Model-tower, 1811 type

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Model 1 tower in Pointe des Espagnols

A model tower (tour-modèle), also known as an Empire tower or a Napoleon tower, was a standardised defensive fortification created in 1811.


Napoleon I wished to remedy the disorder in France's coastal defences and so demanded the construction of a fortification combining powder magazines, food storehouses and gunners' lodgings in one building[1] Napoleon's idea was that the cannons in coastal batteries were very vulnerable to enemy raids and so they could be made safer by combining these elements in a single building.[2] As a coastal defensive chain, they can be compared to the United Kingdom's near-contemporaneous chain of Martello towers (built between 1804 and 1812).

This defence programme is known by the name "model towers and redoubts, 1811 type".[2] Their construction programme was begun in 1812 and was originally intended to run for ten years, but it was abandoned on Napoleon's abdication in 1814. Of the 160 model works originally planned (106 on the Atlantic coast, and 54 in the Mediterranean), only 12 towers were completed by 1814, including the 6 in Finistère around the roadstead of Brest (listed below). Louis-Philippe of France attempted to emulate Napoleon and complete this defence chain in 1846 with a set of standardised crenellated guardhouses.


1 (model tower)[edit]

Model 1 is 16m wide and could house 60 men, along with four 24- or 16-pounder cannons.

2 (model tower)[edit]

Model 2 is 10.5m wide and could house 30 men, 1 field gun and 2 caronades.

3 (model tower)[edit]

Model 3 is 9m wide and could house 18 men (or 12 men and a battery 'guardian') and 2 caronades.

4 (defensive guardhouse)[edit]

9m wide, it was built on 2 levels.

5 (defensive guardhouse)[edit]

9m wide, it was only built on one level.


  1. ^ Michel Dion, Batteries, réduits, tours, forts, casemates... de Camaret et Roscanvel, Association du Mémorial Montbarey, Brest, 1996, 67 p.
  2. ^ a b Fortifications littorales : les tour-modèles "1811", in the general inventory,, consulted 14 June 2011
  3. ^ Roscanvel, Pointe de Cornouaille, on the high point of the point, model 1, in the general inventory,, accessed 11 June 2011
  4. ^ Roscanvel, Pointe des Espagnols, model 1, in the general inventory,, accessed 11 June 2011
  5. ^ Camaret-sur-Mer, Pointe du Toulinguet, number 3 model built in 1812, along with a defensive wall of 1884, in the general inventory,, accessed 11 June 2011
  6. ^ Plougonvelin, Pointe de Créac'h Meur, model 3 (razed terrace), in the general inventory,, accessed 11 June 2011
  7. ^ Locmaria-Plouzané, Pointe du Grand Minou, Toulbroc'h, model 3 (demolished, 1884 redoubt), in the general inventory,, accessed 11 June 2011
  8. ^ Plougonvelin, Saint-Marzin, model 3 (demolished), in the general inventory,, accessed 11 June 2011