Richard the Lion Heart – Historic Route

Limousin, autonomous region and historically prized since antiquity, contains in lush rolling countryside and an important artistic and cultural heritage, combined, to a rich religious and military past.

Its western part, situated on the foothills of the Massif Central, has many castles and fortified buildings today both administratively divided into Haute-Vienne and Correze border in the Charente and Dordogne. Particularly interesting for their architecture and history, they were mostly built in the eleventh century, and often remodeled and modified by necessity or by choice warlike fashion. The extensive remains are evidence of ongoing struggles that fought the dukes of Aquitaine, also became kings of England, and the kings of France all keen to expand its influence through the Viscounts of Limoges, who were vassals of first but strongly attracted by the latter.

Thus, the castles of Rochechouart Lavauguyon, Montbrun, Châlus Lastours Courbefy, Jumilhac, Bonneval and Segur, evenly spaced, were controlling a defensive barrier to the west and southwest, over 60 km as the crow bird access to the Viscount of Limoges.

To develop a collaborative animation of these sites and their environment, a “Tourist Route” across the north the “Land of Feuillardiers” and south “Country Arédien” seemed a picturesque way to develop a common regional past while respecting their individuality and overall theme was therefore sought between castles, medieval churches, castles and abbeys, browsing the Limousin countryside. Naturally, a legendary image, regional and world-famous figure was an emblem: Richard 1st, known as “Lion Heart”.

Richard, King of England and Duke of Aquitaine (1157 -1199); waged war for 5 years in Marche Limousine, against his overlord: Philip Augustus, King of France (1180-1223). If there are reports his visit to St. Yrieix at Chalard to Courbefy and perhaps Bonneval, his troops attacked many other sites like Jumilhac, Lastours Rochechouart … He died in 1199 during the siege of Châlus-Chabrol, fatal event which the Lord of Montbrun was closely associated.

Founded in 1984 as a “Beauty Road” Route Richard the Lion Heart, is sponsored by the Association of Historical Mansion.

Hyphen between three regions: Poitou-Charente, Berry-Limousin and Périgord-Quercy, and their four border departments: Charente, Correze, Dordogne and Haute-Vienne, the historic route of the West Limousin together over nearly 180 km, or 19 sites open to the public. His career focused on the Departmental 901 is indicated in both directions by a traffic signal at Route header: a crowned lion in the heart pierced by an arrow, recalling the tragic fate of Richard the Lion Heart.

With its mission to promote tourism on the border of Perigord and Limousin, the Route Richard the Lion Heart, driving the discovery and development of authentic Limoges places and often prestigious, annually organizes concerts and cultural events in sites where the legend alongside history.

Good visit and good “road”!

The castles, churches and towns of the Route Richard Coeur de Lion

Chateau de Rochebrune, Etagnac.

An English castle which was allied to the Angevin (English) Kingdom against the Capetians (French). (* Small discount available for guests at La Croix Spa.)

Chateau de Rochechouart.

Due to earlier marriage between the House of Rochechouart and Angouleme, this chateau supported Richard the Lionheart in his struggle against the Capetian (French) king.

The Curch of Les Salles de Lavauguyon

Built by the viscount of Rochechouart from 1049 – 1075 and presided over by the prior of Rochechouart and therefore pro-Angevin. Renowned for its beautiful paintings and in a beautiful setting at Les Salles.

The chateau de Brie. Oradour sur Vayres

Bastion of Limousin nobles the present chateau is not contemporary with Richard the Lionheart (built several centuries after his death).

Chateau de Montbrun.

Again, not absolutely contemporary with Richard Coeur de Lion, there was a former motte-and-bailey castle near by the site of the present chateau near the site of a former “Camp de Cesar” (and therefore aligned with a previous political balance!). However the square stone keep of the present chateau was constructed in the 12th century and would have been contemporary with Richard I. The Lords of Montrun were hostile to the Angevin kings and bore allegiance to Philip Augustus.

Chateau Chalus-Maulmont

Not contemporary of Richard I, this castle was built retrospectively following a bequest of land by the viscountess of Limoges Marguerite of Burgundy to Geraud de Maulmont in the 1200’s following his advice and counsel (presumably following the break-up of the Angevin kingdom under John and their allegiance to the French King). Its significance as the place where Richard Coeur de Lion had died must have made it a significant political gift.

Chateau Chalus-Chabrol

The place where Richard the Lionheart died, whilst laying siege against this bastion of the viscounts of Limoges. The Lord of Montbrun offered fierce resistance to Richard, who was wreaking vengeance on the viscounts of Limoges for their support of Philip Augustus and for having been imprisoned and heavily ransomed (at Engliush expense) on his return from the third Crusade. Richard was shot in the shoulder by a crossbow and died on gangrene from the resulting wound.

Chateau Les Cars

Overlorded by the Viscounts of Rochechouart in the 12th Century and therefore favourable to the English kings and subsequently occupied by them during the 100 years war. A classic chateau of the Twelfth Century Renaissance.

Chateau de Lastours

The site as a seat of power dates back to Neolothic times and by the 12th Century presided over by lords of the Limousin who built motte-and-bailey castles to strengthen their hold on their land and thus establishing a difficult relationship with any overlord (French or English) who presided over them. The Lastours princes fought in the first crusade where the feats of Guy de Lastours were recounted in the epic “SOng of Antioch” as the “Chevalier au Lion”.

Chateau Nexon

One of the chateaux of the Lastours family above this chateau became famous as a stud for anglo-arab horses.

Abbey of Le Chalard

A rich abbey on the ancient gold-road in the Dordogne (where gold seams were mined), this abbey was fortified and defended itself and the local village against Richard the Lionheart.

Chateau de Jumilhac

Also part of France’s Gold Route and a prize to be sought both by Philip-Augustus as much as by Richard Coeur de Lion. It was deserted and destroyed before being rebuilt in 1289.

Saint-Yrieix La Perche

12th Century church built on the former site of the monastery of St Yrieix (St Aredius). The local community withstood the attentions of both the viscounts of Limoges and the King and saw themselves as vassals only of the vatican.

Chateau Bonneval

Home of the counts of Bonneval. Guillaume de Booneval went on the 3rd crusade and was contemporary of Richard the Lionheart.

Segur le Chateau

A beautiful mediaeval town – formerly part of the duchy of Aquitaine but captured from the Plantagenets in 1177 and pillaged on the death of Richard the Lionheart. It is probably worth remembering that upon his death, there were probably numerous bands of soldiers formerly in Richard’s pay (or service) who were now not only master-less, but un-paid and would therefore have gone on the rampage locally until brought under control or dispersed.

Chateau of Pompadour

Historically significant seat of power since Roman times, the fortress owned by the Lastours family was burned down in approximately 1200 following the death of Richard the Lionheart.