Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Field Trip #3: Château de Malbrouck et Sierck-les-Bains

From the Roman times covered in our last field trip, we now skip the Middle ages entirely and come to the Rennaissance period (literally meaning re-birth in French). I'm not sure the class was planned with the giant period jump but we'll work with it.

Château de Malbrouck

Behold! The Castle of Malbrouck, reconstructed, of course.
Interestingly enough, the name of the Château is taken from the Duke John Churchill (yes, distant relative of Winston) of Malbrouck who was immortalized in a song we all know well: "For he's a jolly good fellow" although the original lyrics, "Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre" (Malbrouck has gone to war) are more telling of the connection. 

The original Château was built and completed in the year 1434. It was used through the years (although the French wikipedia page doesn't completely specify what for) and in 1793 was sold as national property. It was run down from time and various lootings by the time it was classified as a Historic Monument in 1930. In 1975 it was sold through the General Council of the Moselle to the Weiter family who in turn, worked to rebuild it (using only the ancient methods originally used). Reconstruction was completed in 1999. 

Who knew they would have such a lovely view of the Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant?

the courtyard

the view from the top

the view from the top (most of the following information is taken from a pamphlet given during the visit)
Sierck-les-Bains is a fortified castle dating back to the 11th century. The outer walls, blockhouses, towers, underground passages and protective side bastions ("A bastion is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification, situated in both corners of a straight wall (termed curtain), facilitating active defence against assaulting troops" -- thanks Google, didn't know that one) are still intact. The castle, where the Duke resided, was destroyed in 1643. 

The castle was built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Moselle river valley and there are some that believe it was built on the ruins of a Gallo-roman mansion. The location of the castle was strategically chosen for it's ability to defend the Rhine road that ran through the Moselle valley from the Empires of France and Burgundy (the area was under the rule of the Germanic Empire at the time).
The castle belonged to the Dukes of Lorraine from the 11th century until the 17th century as a favorite residence. 

In 1643 the castle was besieged by the Duke of Enghein and only at that time did the Duke of Lorraine give up the castle and town to France. In 1673 Louvois, a minister of King Louis XIV decided to tear down the living quarters and half of the towers in accordance with the treaty of Vincennes. 

In 1705 the fortifications were again used by the Duke of Malbrouck when he was forced to retreat from Trier, Germany.
In 1713 the fort was demolished yet again in accordance with the treaty of Utrecht. 

In 1773 the stronhold was restore and equipped with powder magazines and a quartermaster's store. 

Before the French Revolution, the cannons and cannonballs were removed and from 1814 on it belonged to the fortifications of the Thionville area and was definitively put into disuse in 1866 when it officially became an official part of the town of Sierck-les-Bains

Wow, what a crazy history. And now, for a few more pictures:

The Moselle River

A restored catapult, apparently similar to one Michael and Dan tried to build in high school, only smaller

Our visit coincided with a mountain bike race. We couldn't help but feel that Shannon (and Adrienne) should  have been there.  They rode through the streets and on even down the stairs of the hillside town then up and around the fort.

a bad picture of the torture chamber...looks lovely, right?

this does look lovely, oh the bread I could bake with this oven!

stair, stairs...

everywhere stairs, dark and damp stairs, it's a miracle we didn't break our necks

winnie-the-poo as a knight, anyone else see it?

a restored cannon

You can see more pictures of our various field trips by clicking HERE.

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