Castle of the Day  
Chateau Gaillard Present-day location:  Les Andelys, France


The castle was erected in one year starting in 1197.  It was sponsored by King Richard I of England who is also known as Richard the Lionheart.  The castle was built to protect Richard's Norman territories from King Philip Augustus of France.  The castle was built among the high cliffs of the Seine River to protect the towns of Petit and Grand Andelys.  It was built in a strategic manner that an invading army could only invade the castle from one side by following a narrow strip of land.


Architecture: The castle had three baileys: an inner ward laid out at the end of the spur near the cliffs and housing the living quarters and keep; the middle ward that included two towers protecting the entrance, a large chapel, latrines, and other mural towers; and the triangular outer ward that served essentially as a barbican, for to gain access to the castle, attackers had to go through the outer ward first. A dry moat separated the middle and outer ward, the two connected by a fixed bridge.

Keep walls- 2.5 meters thick

Middle and outer ward separated by a 9x6 meter moat

Walls facing only direction of attack were 3.5 meters thick, the rest of the walls were 2.5 meters thick


Famous Siege: After Richard Lionheart's death, a siege began ordered by Philip Augustus of France in 1203.  Roger de Lacy who was in command of the castle had to order elders, women, and children out of the castle to conserve supplies. In the spring of 1204, the King of France ordered the assault on Chateau Gaillard. The French army hurled projectiles, and sappers undermined the base of a tower, and finally a section of the wall collapsed, and the French army stormed the breach and took the outer ward. The English retreated to the middle ward, and the French, now in control of the outer section of the castle, began their assault on the middle bailey, though crossing a dry moat under relentless fire would not prove so easy. They had to find another way to capture the castle. Luck was on the French side when the found an unguarded way into the middle bailey through the chapel.  The final line of defense of the inner bailey was no match for trebuchet and mining operations.  The surviving 140 defenders surrendered and were taken prisoner by the French.  The castle was repaired until 1603 when the dismantling of defensive efforts was ordered by the first Bourbon King.


Kaufmann, J.E., H.W. Kaufman. The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts, and Walled Cities of the Middle Ages. MA: Da Capo Press, 2004.

Steven Till Medieval History website. <>


Author:   Doug Mucha

Copyright MMIX by Brian A. Pavlac
Last Revision: 2009 November 5
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