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The Bloody Feud Over the Coveted Castle Of Ivry

The Bloody Feud Over the Coveted Castle Of Ivry

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The history of the Castle of Ivry is one of betrayal and bloodshed. Its very construction ended in violence. Countess Aubrée, who had the castle built, was so impressed with it that she had the architect Lanfred killed to prevent him from building another fortress like it. She herself was in turn killed by her husband who wished to possess the castle himself. The impressive castle on the border between the Duchy of Normandy and the Kingdom of France remained at the centre of many feuds, none bloodier and crueller than that between William de Breteuil and Ascelin Goël at the end of the 11th century.

The ruins of the donjon at Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille (Nitot/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

The ruins of the donjon at Château d'Ivry-la-Bataille (NitotCC BY-SA 3.0)

The Coveted Castle of Ivry

At the time of the 11th century the border between Normandy and France was not a clear line on the map. It was not defined by significant geographical obstacles, nor was there a language barrier. People, then as now, continually crossed and re-crossed these borders, working, trading, and living on either side of it, and noblemen like Robert Beaumont, Count of Meulan, held land both in Normandy and France owing allegiance to both the King of France and the Duke of Normandy. The control of the Duke of Normandy over his territory – particularly along the border – therefore depended on which of the noblemen were willing to follow his lead rather than that of the King of France. This caused constant friction between the two rulers, giving even smaller lords who held border castles leverage to greatly enhance their power and influence and it made border castles highly desirable places to hold.

As one of the oldest and strongest fortifications on the Norman-French border, the formidable Castle of Ivry situated above the river Eure was one of those highly coveted border castles. It has been argued that Ivry was the model for the White Tower in London.

The White Tower in London, seen from the southeast (Bernard Gagnon/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

The White Tower in London, seen from the southeast (Bernard GagnonCC BY-SA 3.0)

The history of the castle is one of betrayal and bloodshed. In the 12th century, the monk Orderic Vitalis relates that Aubrée, wife of Ralph, Count of Bayeux and half-brother of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, commissioned the castle to be built. The finished castle was so impressive that Aubrée had the architect Lanfred beheaded to prevent him from building another fortress like it. She herself was in turn killed by her husband who wished to possess the castle himself.

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Extracts from  From Robber Barons to Courtiers: The Changing World of the Lovells of Titchmarsh. Pen and Sword

Dr Monika E. Simon studied Medieval History, Ancient History, and English Linguistics and Middle English Literature at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich from which she received an MA. She wrote her DPhil thesis about the Lovells of Titchmarsh at the University of York. She is the author of From Robber Barons to Courtiers: The Changing World of the Lovells of Titchmarsh.

Top ImageTwo medieval knights battling over a castle ( SmulskyAdobe Stock)

By: Dr Monika E Simon

 

Monika E

Dr Monika E. Simon studied Medieval History, Ancient History, and English Linguistics and Middle English Literature at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich from which she received an MA. She wrote her DPhil thesis about the Lovells of Titchmarsh at the University of... Read More

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