Château de Ventadour
Placed on a rocky outcrop overhanging the valley of Luzège, only few vestiges remain on the site of this feudal castle, which is still remarkably wild. The existing enclosure follows the contour of the plateau thus protecting a place of 170 m length and 30 m wide at its maximum. One finds inside some traces of a chapel and a residence, an important round tower and a section of wall seeming to be that of a square keep.
The castle built in 11th century, probably altered during several periods of construction and rebuilding spreading out essentially from the 12th to the 15th century, controlled the viscounty of Ventadour whose capitals were Égletons and Ussel. Of viscounty until 1350, it was transformed into county by Philippe de Valois, then in Duchy-Peerage in 1578. It belonged thus to the first lineage of Ventadour, resulting from the lineage of Comborn, until 1472, date of the marriage of the last heiress with Louis de Lévis, baron de la Voulte. After Lévis-Ventadour, the stronghold belonged, still by marriage, to Rohans; and to Rohan-Soubises-Ventadour, passed to the Prince of Condé, who ignored the castle.
Sold as a national asset, the castle became the prey of the demolition contractors, especially after the Bourbon Restoration, when it was acquired by a material merchant of the name of Pertuis du Gay. It was then the property of the duke of Lévis-Mirepoix.
Classed as a historic site in 1946, the site already strongly damaged required major work. In 1965, consolidation work and excavations were undertaken to try to reconstitute the former splendor of the fortress.
The excavations continued until 1980 when it beaceme possible to identity contours of a certain number of rooms inside the enclosure and to bring to light several important decorations of the lordly residence. Excavations were performed in 2003 (north-eastern curtain wall), in 2004 and 2005 (barbican, tower) with consolidations. Nevertheless, the site remains closed to the public.
- 1059: One of the sons of the Viscount of Archambaud II of Comborn received the prerogative of Ventadour and decided to establish a fortress there. Construction continued until 1060 with the simultaneous establishment of several châtellenies like Lieuteret, Fontmartin, and in several cities like Égletons, Neuvic, Corrèze, Meymac and Ussel.
- 1060: Ebles I founded the priory of Moustier-Ventadour then those of Meymac and Bonnesaigne.
- 1096: Ebles I died and his son Ebles II was interested in courteous art of Languedoc and became friend with Guillaume IX of Aquitaine, one of the most famous troubadours of the time. Ebles has founded a poetic school with Ventadour.
- 1125: birth of Bernard, son of a servant who became a famous troubadour
- 1182: Henry II of England established a siege of Ventadour. After a few months, the fortress not going, it raised the siege.
- 1198: Richard the Lionheart tride once again a siege which failed; after which he went to Chalus where he died.
- 1250-1350: The fortress is deeply altered with higher and thicker ramparts and also more decorated and more comfortable apartments.
- 1379: During the Hundred Years' War, the castle was invested by the robber Geoffroy and a band of plundering rovers who, starting from the fortified place, ransomed and plundered all the area during nearly 10 years.
- 1450: a new residence was built in the walls of the castle by Charles de Ventadour.
- 1450-1500: Charles and his Louis son organized a military academy in Ventadour for the formation of pages for the service of the King.
- 1575: Gilbert III of Ventadour became governor of the Limousin; important religious confrontations ruined his territory. The abbey of Bonnesaigne was burned but Ventadour remained intact.
- 1578: Henri III raised the county of Ventadour to a duchy. It became the first Duchy of the Bas-Limousin
- 1599: The wars of religion were sources of destruction and plunderings of fortified towns in the Limousin but Ventadour, citadel of the governors, has resisted.
- 1631: Charles, new Duke of Ventadour was admitted among the close relations of Louis XIII. He was at the same time Lieutenant Général of Languedoc and Gouverneur of the Limousin.
- 1649: Charles’ son, Louis-Charles became Duc and Pair of France. He lived in Paris and it was the beginning of the decline of the castle.
- 1793: The Comité de salut public of Égletons and the Conventional of Tulle ordered the destruction of Ventadour. The castle was plundered and the roofs were destroyed.
- 1796: On July 11, Ventadour is sold to a farrier of Égletons.
- 1800: The castle is resold to a demolition contractor who sold materials and who undertook to take off the stones.
- 1804: An access path and an opening in the enclosing wall were carried out to facilitate the transport of materials of demolition.
- 1829: The vestiges of Ventadour were purchased by Madam d' Ambert de Lamazière to organize pastoral afternoons in the “romantic ruins”.
- 1895: The site was transferred to the Lévis-Mirepoix, cousins ot the Lévis-Ventadour.
- 1900: A feast celebrates Bernard, the troubadour.
- 1930-1939: Feasts were organized annually in the site by the mayor of Moustier-Ventadour.
- 1965: Beginning of the excavations and of the emergency works of consolidation.
- This article incorporates information from