Château Gaillard

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The magnificent castle of Château Gaillard was built at Les Andelys in Normandy by Richard Coeur de Lion, King of England and Duke of Normandy, on his return from the Third Crusade in 1196. It was situated on a promontory overlooking the Seine to control the approach to Rouen, the capital of Normandy, and its natural defensive position meant that it need only be protected on one side. The design of Chateau Gaillard, which probably took its inspiration from Krak des Chevaliers and other major fortifications in the Holy Land, was soon to become outmoded: its first defence was a wide ditch cut across the spur, then came an outer bailey, and then a moat between the inner bailey and the so-called chemise wall protecting the keep. The chemise wall had a series of round towers at extremely short intervals, while the walls of the keep were 3.6 metres thick. Although a massive and impressive construction it was successfully besieged by Philip Augustus in 1203: the French king merely starved the defenders, who in the last resort surrendered.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied