The history of the site

Over the course of its history, the Château de Clisson has been known as an impregnable fortress, ducal residence and Romantic ruin.

Discover the Château de Clisson down through the centuries with these maps dating from 1850 on the following website: 

The château boasts a strategic position, at the southern entrance to the Duchy of Brittany and offered protection to the city of Nantes.

The original wooden structure, erected in the 11th century, was replaced by a stone-walled castle in the 12th century, with increasingly elaborate defensive structures.  The château was a fortified castle and a lord’s residence, then a ducal residence. The fortified castle was neglected by its owners during the second half of the 17th century before being burnt down by Republican troops in 1793. The castle ruins inspired François-Frédéric Lemot who purchased them in 1807. The castle was classed a historical monument in 1924 and the site was bought from the Lemot family, by the Département de Loire-Atlantique in 1962.

Olivier V de Clisson (1336 – 1407)

Coming from a wealthy family, Olivier V steadily increased his wealth and power over the years despite the troubled political context of the Hundred Years’ War. During his lifetime, he enjoyed various roles: a British officer, Breton lord and Connétable de France (supreme commander of the French Armies). He remains the emblematic figure of this castle, where he was born, even though it was not one of his preferred residences.
His daughter, Marguerite de Clisson betrayed the Duke of Brittany in 1420. The castle was confiscated and passed onto the younger sister’s side of the ducal family, the family of Duke François II. 

François II Duke of Brittany (1435 -1488)

The last Duke of Brittany was particularly fond of the Château de Clisson, where he married his second wife, Marguerite de Foix. Their first daughter and heir was Anne of Brittany. François II sought to improve the military potential of his fortified castle which would play an important role in the war against Kings Louis XI and later, Charles VIII. He adapted the castle to accommodate the use of gunpowder weapons. He is responsible for the imposing aspect that the castle has today.

François-Frédéric Lemot (1771 – 1827)

In 1807, under the creative impulse of this young sculptor, the old fortified castle was transformed into a Romantic ruin, overgrown with vegetation. Lemot had a particular interest in heritage and therefore actively sought to preserve and protect the castle.