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|Native name |
French: Tour Mélusine
The Tour Mélusine
|Location||Place du Bail|
|Built||End of the 12th or beginning of 13th century|
|Governing body||Town of Vouvant|
|Official name: Enceinte fortifiée de Vouvant|
This keep and watchtower, probably built at the end of the 12th century or the beginning of the 13th century (very often dated 1242), is the only vestige of the ancient castle of the Lords of Lusignan built in the present location of the "Place du Bail". This castle was separated from the fortified town of Vouvant by a moat. A chapel, long gone, was leaning against the tower.
Like all of the Lusignan's castles, legend holds that it was built in a single night by the fairy Melusine "de trois dornées de pierres et d'une goulée d'Ève" ("from three apronfuls of stones and a mouthful of water").
This tower, 45 m high from the ditch and with its cylindrical shape, is original from that time. Indeed, the majority of the castles of this region and of this time are of the "Niortais" style (a square tower with round towers at each corner).
The keep has a square base, which indicates the height of the curtain wall that surrounded the courtyard of the castle, which is today the Place du Bail ("bail" meaning "fortified enclosure").
The Tour Mélusine consists of a total of five levels :
- The ground floor of the tower was used as a cellar for storing food supplies. It is not accessible to the public.
- The second level was originally accessible by a mobile ladder, now replaced by a stone staircase.
- The third and fourth levels are accessible by a metal staircase (previously made of stone) and each has a vaulted dome. The third level allowed access to the wall walk.
- The fifth and final level corresponds to the terrace at the top, hence a view of the fortified city, the forest of Mervent-Vouvant and the surroundings is impressive.
Notes and references
- Ministry of Culture: Enceinte fortifiée (in French)
- Exhibition : Vouvant d'un millénaire à l'autre, from the research of Nicolas Prouteau (lecturer in medieval archaeology at the University of Poitiers - vice director of CESCM) and the historical watercolours of Lionel Duigou, August 2016, Patrimoines du Vouvantais association. Read online.
- "13th century Ramparts". Vouvant. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
- "Patrimoines du vouvantais - La Tour Mélusine de Vouvant". www.patrimoines-du-vouvantais.fr (in French). Retrieved 28 April 2018.
- Gilles., Bresson, (2013). Châteaux forts de Vendée : guide d'histoire et de visite ([Ed] D'Orbestier ed.). Château-d'Olonne: Orbestier. ISBN 9782842381523. OCLC 853442733.