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Chateau Angers

The Chateau d'Angers is located in the city of Angers in the departement of Maine-et-Loire, in France. The photo is of the ramparts only of the ancient fortress.

The fortress of Angers, on a rocky ridge overhanging the river Maine, was one of the sites inhabited by the Romans because of its strategic defensive location.

In the 9th century the fortress came under the authority of the powerful Counts of Anjou, becoming part of the Angevin empire of the Plantagenet Kings of England during the 12th century. In 1204, the region was conquered by King Philippe II and an enormous chateau was built by his grandson, King Louis IX ("Saint Louis") in the early part of the 13th century.

Nearly 2,000 feet (600m) in circumference, and protected by seventeen massive towers, the walls of the chateau encompass 6.17 acres (2.5 ha). In 1352, King Jean II (le Bon), gave the chateau to his son, Louis I. Married to the daughter of the wealthy Duke of Brittany, Louis had the chateau modified, and in 1373 commissioned the famous Apocalypse Tapestry from the painter Hennequin de Bruges and the Parisian tapestry-weaver Nicolas Bataille.

Louis II (Louis I's son) and Yolande d'Aragon added a chapel (1405-1412) and royal apartments to the complex. The chapel is a sainte chapelle, the name given to churches which enshrined a relic of the Passion. The relic at Angers was a splinter of the fragment of the True Cross which had been acquired by Louis IX.

In the early part of the 1400's, the hapless dauphin who, with the assistance of Joan of Arc would become King Charles VII, had to flee Paris and was given sanctuary at the chateau in Angers.

In 1562, Catherine de Medici had the chateau restored as a powerful fortress, but, when the Huguenots threatened to take it over, her son, King Henri III, had the towers and walls stripped of their embattlements. However, the king made it part of the military, maintaining its defensive capabilities by installing artillery on the chateau's upper terraces. At the end of the 1700's, as a military garrison, it showed its worth when its thick walls withstood a massive bombardment by cannons from the Vendean army. Unable to do anything else, the invaders simply gave up.

A military academy was established in the chateau to train young officers in the strategies of war. In a twist of fate, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) who is best known for his defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo was trained at the Military Academy of Angers.

Still a part of the French military, the chateau was severely damaged during World War II by the Nazis when a munitions storage dump inside the chateau exploded. Today, owned by the City of Angers, the massive, austere chateau has been converted to a museum housing the oldest and largest collection of medieval tapestries in the world, with the 14th century "Apocalypse Tapestry" as one of its priceless treasures.