Foulques III feared of God and dreaded of the Devil
In the year one thousand, an extraordinary individual, almost legendary, dominated Touraine : the famous Count of Anjou Foulques III Nerra. Also known as the "Black Falcon", he was one of the greatest feudal lords of his time. In fact, he was sometimes cynical, sometimes generous, sometimes impulsive or calculating, a murderer or repentant, following a series of chivalrous exploits and infamous crimes. But above all, he was a tireless fighter, spending most of his time fighting his neighbours and especially Eudes de Blois, his cousin, from whom he took a good part of his Touraine estates.
To the great feudal lords, his cousins, he gave the example of the emancipation of the serfs, the protection of the monks, the sharing of goods, the family dynastic concern, the territorial balance and set up an educational system reviving the Carolingian tradition.
No less than fifty castles, abbeys, churches and monasteries were built during his long life, during which he made four pilgrimages to Jerusalem in 1003, 1009, 1035 and 1039.
It was on the return from the fourth that he died in Metz, on 21 June 1040, at the age of 70.
One of the oldest medieval monuments in France
Fortress of Montbazon was built from 991 on top of a rocky spur dominating the course of the Indre river. The monks of Cormery complained to the King of France about the behaviour of Foulques III Nerra who had taken over the place. He first built a castle mound, a wooden keep on a mound of earth, the stone keep only came a little later.
The fortress was then taken by the King of France, Philip Augustus, in 1205. This led to the construction of round towers and the ramparts of the second shirt. The tower at the south-western corner is composed of several floors, the south-eastern one is solid and acts as a corner buttress.
Permanently attached to the kingdom of France, the fortress then became the property of a succession of illustrious families, notably the Mirabeau, Savary, Craon and La Rochefoucauld before passing to the Rohan family, dukes of Montbazon until the Revolution. Towards the end of the 16th century, the site underwent further profound changes. It was during this period that Montbazon became one of the twelve duchy-pairs of the kingdom and the second richest after Orléans. A second castle, which regularly welcomed Charles VII and Louis XI, was built around 1425, opposite the keep, and demolished in 1746 to stone the bed of the Indre river (currently the Place de la Mairie).
This fortified complex is one of the oldest feudal castles in France. The keep was a massive tower originally 36 m high (26 to 28 m today), with 3 m thick walls at the base and 2 m thick at the top, 20 m long and 15 m wide. The south and east façades are provided with buttresses. It consisted of a cellar and three floors, made of wood, installed according to the "nobility" hierarchy (the nobles at the top). It was topped by a gable roof. It was entered through a door on the north side, situated 6.5m above the ground, by means of a ladder or a ramp.
The "small keep", or forebody, was leaned against it, on the west side, by Geoffroi Martel, the son of the "Black Falcon", in 1050. Another descendant of Foulque, Henri II Plantagenet, King of England and father of Richard the Lionheart and John the Landless, undertook huge works, transforming the simple keep into a real fortress in 1175. Owner of the place through his marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine, he added, starting from the "small keep", the crenellated walls, the parapet walk and the high court.