The foundation of the fortress dates back to the 11th century, under the lord of Talmont Guillaume le Chauve. The seigniory at that time was marked by the Norman invasions and was located in the very heart of the Duchy of Aquitaine which, in the 11th century, was under the authority of Guillaume V dit Le Grand, Count of Poitou and Duke of Aquitaine.
To restore the history of the castle of Talmont, specialists, mediators and archaeological teams do everything to better understand the monument, loaded with a powerful historical, architectural and artistic heritage.
A veritable thousand-year-old fortress, the Château de Talmont bears witness to the evolution of fortification and residential construction techniques from the Middle Ages to the 17th century.
A strategic location
Guillaume le Chauve, first lord of Talmont, began the construction of a stone tower around 1020, around which a wooden enclosure, then very quickly in stone, takes the shape of a rock surrounded by water. This site, bordered by two rivers, the Sauvagère and the Payré, is totally isolated twice a day during high tides. Indeed, the sea, today located 6km to the south, then bathed the foot of the castle. This proximity also allows Guillaume to use pebbles to build his fortress; most of the castles being made of wood, he can thus establish his prestige by erecting stone walls and buildings. His son, Guillaume le Jeune, continued his work by making the bell tower-porch linking the seigniorial building to the church, an imposing dungeon.
The castle overlooks the Payré estuary and an important port, the largest between Nantes and Bordeaux. The city of Talmont therefore benefits from maritime trade and is developing rapidly, north of the fortress.
William the Bald founded the Abbey of Sainte-Croix there; large halls house fairs and markets where wine and salt producers flock. Guillaume le Jeune, second lord of Talmont, will not fail to stage this dynamism by building a ceremonial room located in the keep and offering a breathtaking view of the city, through three large bays.
The burning of the castle
The main tower was partly destroyed by a violent fire: indeed, Guillaume de Lezay, then Lord of Talmont in 1138, revolted against the recently married King of France. to Aliénor, Duchess of Aquitaine. Even today, stones reddened by the heat testify to this episode in the history of the castle.
À the death of Guillaume de Lezay, the fortress becomes property; Mauléon, a family whose influence grew thanks to advantageous alliances.
Savary de Mauléon: an influential lord
Strong man from Poitou, close to Jean sans Terre and named; Seneschal several times, Savary de Mauléon acquired the prestigious title of the first lords of Talmont, thus becoming Prince (princeps Thaleamundi). The fortress was then transformed in the 13th century into a castle whose menacing and majestic appearance marked the power of its owner.
However, the independence and strength of the Mauléon family is challenged. badly from the death of Savary, by the intervention of the King of France, Louis IX, who took possession of Talmondais in 1233. French influence grew and, from 1242, the conquest of Poitou by Les Capétiens is complete.
A declining fortress restored in the 20th century
In the middle of the 13th century, the Château de Talmont became the property of the Viscounts of Thouars, the most influential family in Poitou with many castellanies. Located on the outskirts of conflict zones and plagued by silting, the fortress lost its strategic interest and was used as a second home. Through marriage, Talmont passed into the hands of the Amboise family and then the La Tremoille family in the 15th century. They are the ones who are at the origin of the development of a new dwelling outside the high court.
From the beginning of the 16th century, the Reformation reached Poitou; Talmont quickly became a Protestant stronghold and a temple was built. Despite Claude de La Trémoille's conversion to Catholicism, the conflict continued, exacerbated by the involvement of the English alongside the Protestants. In order to prevent the latter from gaining a foothold in Bas-Poitou, Louis XIII ordered the dismantling of several strongholds, including that of Talmont. In 1628, large sections of the exterior and interior walls, the upper parts of the main tower and the dwellings were destroyed by the Prince de la Trémoille, in exchange for a payment of one hundred thousand pounds.
The castle, in ruins, is no longer used except as a quarry by the inhabitants of the city. Its last lord, Antoine-Philippe de la Trémoille, ascended the scaffold in 1794.
Bought by the municipality in 1920 and classified as a Historic Monument in 2009, it has since been enhanced by restoration and excavation campaigns and a rich cultural program.
Fabulous archaeological discoveries
The Château de Talmont has undergone several excavation campaigns which have made it possible to better understand the building as a whole. With the support of the town of Talmont-Saint-Hilaire, the archaeological study of the Château de Talmont began in 2003 and continued until 2017 under the leadership of Teddy Béthus, archaeologist.
In 2021, ateam from Inrap (National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research) carried out a major excavation in the heart of Talmont-Saint-Hilaire and revealed an essential part of the history of the town: the location of the medieval port of Talmont!
Installed in the Payré estuary, the uncovered port is intimately linked to the evolution of the castle which overlooks it. For the first time, it makes it possible to associate the excavation of a castle and a medieval port. A network of canals has been discovered, allowing goods to be transported to the foot of the castle. In addition, archaeological furniture has been discovered and is undergoing laboratory analysis. They will allow you to better understand the material culture specific to a coastal city.