The castle (sometimes also called simply “dungeon”) of Loches, in the eponymous commune of Indre-et-Loire, 40 km south-east of Tours, is a castle built in the eleventh century in the heart of a city royal which also includes a “home” (palace) and a collegiate. The whole city situated on a rocky outcrop is surrounded by a wall. The dungeon was built between 1013 and 1035 by the Count of Anjou Foulques Nerra. It resists several seats and over the centuries, is equipped with new elements: a curtain (XII), towers (XIII), a house for its governor (XIV), a round tower and a barbican (XV). The fortified building is composed of two parts: the large dungeon, rectangular in shape of about 25 by 14 meters, formerly adorned with a crown, and a fore-body adjoining its north face, called “little dungeon”. The thickness of the walls varies from 3.40 m at the base to 2.60 m at the summit. In the 15th century, the castle became a royal prison, a vocation that he kept until the Revolution, then changing into a prison from 1801 to 1926.
John II of Alençon (Jean II d’Alençon) (2 March 1409 – 8 September 1476) was a French nobleman. He succeeded his father as Duke of Alençon and Count of Perche as a minor in 1415, after the latter’s death at the Battle of Agincourt. He is best known as a general in the Last Phase of the Hundred Years’ War and for his role as a comrade-in-arms of Joan of Arc.
John was discontented with the Treaty of Arras, having hoped to make good his poverty through the spoliation of the Burgundians. He fell out with Charles VII, and took part in a revolt in 1439–40, (the Praguerie) but was forgiven, having been a lifelong friend of the king. He took part in the invasion of Normandy in 1449, but he had unwisely entered into correspondence with the English since 1440. (He had also accepted the Order of the Golden Fleece at this time.) Shortly after testifying at the “rehabilitation trial” of Joan of Arc in 1456, he was arrested by Jean de Dunois and imprisoned at Aigues-Mortes. In 1458, he was convicted of lèse-majesté and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted and he was imprisoned at Loches. He was released by Louis XI upon terms at his accession in 1461, but he refused to keep them and was imprisoned again. He was tried a second time before the Parlement of Paris and sentenced to death again on 18 July 1474, and his Duchy was confiscated. However, the sentence was not carried out, and he died in prison in the Louvre in 1476.
LOCHES (L-et-L.) –Le Donjon – Sculptures dans le mur la Salle d’Armes
The Dungeon – Sculptures in the wall (Room of Arms)
Published: A. Papeghin, Paris-Tours (1900-1931)
Detailed plain of the chateau (from Wikimedia Commons)
Detailed view of the dungon (from Wikimedia Commons)