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The Montlhery castle by J. -C. Guillon

© J.-C. Guillon, RAG n°2, APEA, 1996.

(Translation work carried out by Christine Kaminski in 1999) - French text Version française

The Montlhery castleINTRODUCTION

This article is the summary of a master work carried out in 1995 and from a postgraduate work carried out in 1996 on the Montlhéry castle.

It was necessary to begin by tracing the chronology of the area. By doing this, we were able to restore the different phases of construction of the fortress, all in keeping it within the study of the regional fortification. The objectives of this work are to analyze some of the architectural elements and the reconstruction of the castle in three dimensions, linking it to the different key periods of its existence.


2. 1 From the Neolithic age to the end of the Early Middle Ages :

There is proof that the area was indeed inhabited in the Neolithic age. Cut and polished stones have been found, as well as numerous potteries, throughout the region, which testify that the first men who stayed there actually stayed in the Neolithic courtyard. On the other hand, no element has been discovered at the actual site of the castle.

The Montlhery castle (Essone - France)

At the Gallo-Roman period, the region of Montlhéry, was part of the Aequaline forest, which contained in its center the vague boundaries between Parisii, Sénons, and Carnutes. It also had the Roman road from Paris to Orleans passing through it, which crossed at the foot of Montlhéry, in the actual commune of Linas.

The existence of a vicus road linked at the crossing of water, which is situated at the foot of the steep mound of Montlhéry is proven by the discovery of a Gallo-Roman and Merovingian cemetery in 1890 and in 1981 in Linas.

The funeral furniture contained in the approximately ten tombs that have been found to this day date to the second and fifth centuries. The examination of the first tombs gives us an almost certain proximity of the housing, from the findings of pieces of broken domestic ceramic and tiles in the clearings. The housing became stretched out towards the west and the south along the Roman road. This main road of communication passed in front of the Saint-Merry church and crossed the Sallemouille stream, at the foot of the mound. Since then, this very marshy place has been cleaned up.

There is proof at the site of the Saint-Merry church, which was built on the Gallo-Roman and Merovingian cemeteries, of a permanent habitation in this area during the Merovingian and Carolingian periods. Also, the Saint-Merry church, known by the records of the Carolingian period, could have a Merovingian origin, since the term Saint-Etienne suggests a date of higher foundation.

This concentration of habitat in the valley bottom reflects the reality of the populating of Essonne at the Low-Empire and at the Early Middle Ages. The large communication roads that pass through this sector have constituted one of the elements of settling some of the population.

This veritably known history of Montlhéry, begins in 768 AD, a period in which the Abbey of Saint-Denis received from Pépin the Short "Aetrico monte cum integritate". The donation of the Montlhéry mound is confirmed by an act of Charlemagne in 774.

Later, according to oral traditions, Montlhéry had been exchanged for some other ground belonging to the bishops of Paris, and then it became one of their fiefdoms. One of them gave themselves up to the knights, which later became his vassals.


2.2.1 Thibaud Tow-Head (File-Étoupe) and his close descendants (991 - 1105 AD)

The first lord of Montlhéry was Thibaud, whose pale blond hair gave him the nickname Tow-Head. He was one of the principle barons of Hughes Capet, and of King Robert, who followed after Capet. He was responsible for taking care of the forest, which was an important function, and which also included being Master of the Royal Hunt, supervising the waters, forests, wolves, and falcons.

A continuing text called "l'Historia Francorum " from Aimion de Fleury says:

"Temporis Roberti regis, Theobladus cognomine Filans Stupas, forestarius ejus, firmavit Montemlethericum".

So Thibaud fortified the mount around 991 AD, undoubtedly for political reasons. In effect, the royal domain of Robert the Stakes (Le Pieux), which included Montlhéry, was not a united region. In the west and south zones of his domain, the king had to deal with the scheming from the counts of Blois. The Capetian had to dispose the strong points in order to block the maneuvers of the Blois house. Montlhéry was, without doubt, one of these bases.

The Montlhery moundThe castle only consisted of a tower of isolated wood, protected by an enclosure; and though it once soared into the sky from this mound, today much of it is left in ruins. Thus we call it the Montlhéry lump.

Always, according to the account of Aimoin de Fleury:

"Ipse (Theobaldus Filans Stupas) habuit unumfilium nominatum Guidonum, qui accepit in uxore dominam de Feritate et de Gommet. Idem Guido genuit ex ea Milonem de Brayo et Geidonem Rubeum".

From this text we learn that, at the time of King Robert (996 - 1031 AD), Guy, son of Thibaud Tow-Head, married the lady of Ferté and Gometz. From this union, Milon of Bray and Guy the Red were born.

It seems certain that Guy was brought up at Saint-Pierre priory, close to the castle as well as the Notre-Dame church, which first served the parish occupants of the town. His wife Hodierne established a monastery at Longpont in order to serve the domestic necropolis. However, Guy the First of Montlhéry gave his children in marriage to the most noble families of France: Milon, his oldest, married Lithieuse, viscountess of Troyes; Guy the Red, his second son, was count of Rochefort; Guillaume, the youngest, was lord of Gometz; his first daughter MéIisende, married the count of Rhéteil; MéIisende the young, the lord of Pont-sur-Seine; Elisabeth was the wife of Josselin of Courtenay; Alix married Hughes, sire of the Puiset; and his youngest daughter was to be married to Gauthier, count of Saint-Valery.

Guy the First did not obtain lordship until after his death because, wanting to die a Christian, he left it to his son Milon and retired as a simple monk in the priory of Notre-Dame of Longpont.

It seems as though Milon the Big did not show himself devoted enough to his father, Philippe the First; in effect, several times he formed a league with the prince's enemies. Thus Philippe the First comprised an important strategy from the castle which controlled all the communication between the two Capetians towns, Paris and Orléans. He tried to obtain the fortress by exchange or purchase, but without success. Fortunately, the crusades came to his aid.

Milon the Big left during the first crusade (1096 - 1104) with his oldest son, Guy Troussel; his brother guy the Red, count of Rochefort; and his nephew Hughes, sire of Crécy, who was the son of Guy the Red. It is possible to date their departure to 1096 since Guy the Red, also the seneschal, disappeared from these events around 1095, and did not reappear until 1104.

We know the results of the voyage from the accounts of the Abbey Suger. Guy Troussel abandoned the holy business and, unbeknownst to his father, he escaped from Antioch, which was besieged by the Corboran army. He then returned to France.

With the crusade now finished Milon the Big was reunited with his dishonored son. He then set off once more for holy ground where he was killed at the battle of Ramlah in 1103.

Guy Troussel then became lord of Montlhéry. However, being removed from everything, he lived in constraint, no reaching the recommendations of Philippe the First. He agreed to leave the castle on the condition that the king of France marry his natural son, Philippe of Melun, to Elisabeth, his only heiress. The marriage was celebrated in 1104.

According to Suger, King Philippe the First said to his son Louis, "Go, Louis, my child; be well-attentive to conserve this tower. The humiliation nearly killed me, as well as the trickery and criminal fraud which never let me have peace or an assured repose."

So, in 1104, the castle of Montlhéry was once again crowned with a lord.

2.2.2 LOUIS VII AND MILON (1105-1118AD)

During this time period, the Montlhéry castle was a theatre of grand events which had a contemporary historian: Suger, who was the Abbey of Saint-Denis and a friend of Louis VII, and who wanted to write about its life.

Here is what is said about Montlhéry and its lords:

Milon, viscount of Troyes and baby brother of Guy Troussel, along with the Garlande brothers and other barons, introduced himself and his soldiers to Montlhéry. Welcomed into the castle with the understanding that he would stay there, he raised up a garrison, saying, "These armed traitors rush towards the tower, attacking those who defend it, and fight so sharply with fire, bows, spears, lances, and stones, that in several places they breach the outer ramparts of the tower and mortally wound many of its defenders". In this tower were the refugees Alix of Rochefort, the wife of Guy the Red, who was the seneschal of France, and her daughter Lucienne, fiancée of the king's son. Guy the Red prepared a troop in order to deliver his own people. Those who attacked the tower were unable to seize it and ran off at the sight of the ost(army) of Guy the Red. The seneschal skillfully knew to detach the Garlande brothers from the league of lords, and Milon of Troyes, his nephew, was abandoned by all and went to hide his shame and anger in his domain.

Louis VI, upon returning to Montlhéry, confirmed the peace agreement signed between Guy the Red and the barons, but prudently he destroyed all the fortifications with the exception of the tower.

One of the first acts of Louis VI, who became king in 1108 at the death of this father, was to remove the dignity of stewardship from Hughes of Crécy, son of Guy the Red, in order to give it to Anselme of Garlande, whose brother Etienne received the order of chancellor. He presented the ground and the castle of Montlhéry to his natural brother, Philippe of Melun. But Philippe gave the castle back to Hughes of Crécy, to surround the king of enemies. Hughes hurried towards his new lordship once the king threw himself into his pursuit. During these days the two adversaries were in opposition; one to have his lordship and the other to stop him. Milon II of Bray, who was the cousin of Hughes, demanded the lordship by right of heredity. So the king offered Milon II the lordship of the townspeople, who then fought against Hughes in expelling him from the castle, threatening to kill him. Hughes was thus forced to run away.

To continue here, it is necessary to recover the "Chronicle of Morigny", where it is written that:

Hughes was furious from being forced to leave the Montlhéry castle by his cousin Milon who got it back by right. This is why he ravaged the surroundings. A little later, he successfully seized the castle thanks to treason. He then imprisoned Milon II in his Châteaufort tower. One night, "taken by folly", according to the chronicle, Hughes strangled his cousin with his own hands, then threw him out of the window, perhaps to make it look like an accident. The royal reprise did not wait: the king rushed to the Gometz castle and rapidly overtook it. Hughes, taken in fear and panic, was summoned to appear in the court of his lord.

This passage is interesting because we learn that his lord is in fact Amaury IV of Montfort, gruyer(royal officer for forest and water) of the Yvelines forest. No matter what he was, Hughes of Crécy was brought in front of Amaury IV. Tearful, he bowed down at the feet of his lord, gave him back the grounds and assumed the monastic habit. All of this happened before the death of Anseau of Garlande in 1118.

It was as if the Montlhéry castle came back under the royal yoke after successively having had the lords: Thibaud File-Étoupe, Guy the First, Milon the Big, Guy II of Troussel, Milon II of Braye, and Hughes of Crécy.

2.3 THE PROVOSTS (1118- 1529)

2.3. 1. The organization of the provosty

The town of Montlhéry was considerably expanded, extending beyond the ancient fortifications, which first surrounded it, which were built by the lords. This town had two gates dating from the time of Milon the Big; the one was called the Paris gate and the other was called the Baudry gate. This agglomeration placed much importance on the market, which was held on Monday of each week. The Jews, having bought the authorization to set up there, had an entire quarter to themselves; the Rue Des Juifs and rue du Soulier Judas (Judas Shoe). This increase of the Montlhéry market made the room to establish the provosts and guards of the castle.

Master of the Montlhéry castle, Louis VI, entrusted the guard to a provost (proepositus regis), who, under the title of chatelain, and later captain, came together with some of the knights who came under the seigniory to look after the castle in his absence. According to the texts, these men were entitled as guards, provosts, or captains of the chastel, chastellenie and counts of Montlhéry and they took an oath in the count's chambers, whenever they were required to, upon the king's return.

At the time of the administrative reorganization of the kingdom by Philippe-Auguste, Montlhéry became the seat of one of the 78 royal provosts.

The Montlhéry provosty spread from the north to the south: from Mons and Athis to Lardy and the Ferte-Alais; and from the east to the west: from Vert-le-Grand to Angervilliers and to Val-Saint-Germain. It also included the actual districts of Longjumeau, Arpajon, and parts of Limours and Dourdan. The jurisdiction of the provosty was exercised on more than 100 parishes, and on 133 fiefdoms. Most of these fiefdoms belonged to the knights appointed under the name of "Milites of Fisco montis Letherici". They had to be guards of the castle for two months every year. Documents have kept the trace of Guy of Valgrineuse, Beaudoin of Corbeil, Payen of Saint-Yon....

2.3.2. The Royal Sojourns (1160 - 1 356)

Louis VII stayed at Montlhéry several times with Suger, his minister, who recorded several charters, notably the one in 1144, for the Abbey of Saint-Denis.

On the inside of the castle, there were, at this time, two churches: one was the collegiate of Saint-Pierre, which was cleared away by the secular canons; and the other was the parish church Notre-Dame. These two churches were reunited in 1154 at the Longpont priory, and the abbeys of Longpont appointed the parish until Saint-Pierre was erected at the priory, specifically towards the year 1420. They were united with the neighboring chapel of Saint-Laurent and, from this time on, were no more than a single building.

After his return from the second crusade around 1160, Louis VII founded the leprosy hospital of Saint-Pierre in the marketplace, to take care of the poor who were ill. Today it is the general hospital. On the side of this establishment the Notre-Dame Chapel of Mt. Carmel was constructed, which later grew to become the parish church, under the term of the Trinity.

Phillippe-Auguste often lived at the Montlhéry castle. At the request of Guillaume, who was the bishop of Paris, he signed the trade letters by which he admitted to his debt over the years to the diocese of Paris, which was the sum of 45 sous for the fiefdom candles of Corbeil and Montlhéry, which were confiscated and returned to the king. In 1184, he again signed a charter by which he left one 10th of the bread and wine, which he consumed while staying at Montlhéry to the abbey of Bois-des-Dames.

Before his reign (1223-1229), Saint-Louis stayed several times with the queen Blanche de Castille in Montlhéry. In 1227, at the time of the conspiracy of the lords against the regent, the king and his mother were sent back to Vendome to rejoin their congregation; we know that the rebels advanced the troops towards Etampes and Corbeil in order to raise up the young king. Louis IX was already at Châtres (Arpajon) when Thibaud urged him, the count of Champagne, to withdraw himself to the castle. Traditionally it is said that the young king was hid in an underground passage, which we can see today; the entrance is only a few steps from the tower.

The Parisians say that the sire of Joinville rushed through a crowd to rescue the young king and his mother and take them back to Paris. We attribute to Saint-Louis the construction of one of the buildings of the castle's enclosure. In effect, at his return from the crusade around 1256, he was raised up at the left the esplanade entrance, at the chapel, which carries his name.

Jean the Good stayed at Montlhéry, during the first years of his reign. He came in order to hunt. Philippe of Saint-Yon was then captain and count of Montlhéry. The dauphin Charles, Charles V, resided at the castle during the captivity of his father, notably after having dissolved the assembly of the State Generals convened by the ordinance on Dec. 28, 1355. He even dated an ordinance from Montlhéry, on Dec. 5, 1356, relating to the immunities of the town of Tournay.

2.3.3. THE 100 YEAR WAR (1360-1450)

The history of the Montlhéry, castle during the hostility between the British, French, and Armagnacs against the Bourgignons is heavily detailed in an account given by Victor-Adolphe Malte-Brun, an account which is kept in the preserved archives.

In 1358, under the provosty of Jacques of Hangest, the British besieged the castle without being able to seize it. In 1360, the troops of Edouard III succeeded in occupying it, but only for a short time because Charles VI named a new provost in 1365. In 1382, Olivier of Clisson received the guard and the master's office of the Montlhéry castle.

He left the castle a catastrophe for Brittany after Charles, who had a fit of dementia, wanted to have his constable arrested. In 1409, the Armagnacs seized Montlhéry, but evacuated it a year later, only to return and occupy it again the following year.

In 1413, the Duke of Bourgogne chased them out and reestablished the king's people. On Oct. 8, 1417, the Duke of Bourgogne, Jean without Fear (sans Peur), withdrew towards Montlhéry. Tannegui Duchtatel, the provost of Paris, became irritated by the extorsions of the Montlhéry garrison on the region of Paris and besieged the castle, overtaking it in 1418. After being taken, Montlhéry always held the Dauphin party. With the departure of the Parisians, the Montlhéry, garrison resumed looting. A 2nd siege of the Parisians failed.

It wasn't until 1423 that Montlhéry, surrendered to the regent, the Duke of Bedford. The fortress stayed in the hands of the British until 1436. A captain of the bourgeois militia named Gauvin Leroy gave the castlefort to Charles VII. Charles awarded him; he named him provost.

The town continued to stretch out, mostly over the marketplace and towards the route to Paris. The Notre-Dame chapel of Mt. Carmel, which belonged to the general hospital, was enlarged in 1400 and erected by the parish under the protection of the Saint Trinity.


It was in the plain which spread out between Montlhéry and Longpont that the armies of Charles, who became count of Charolais, after Charles the Rash (le Téméraire), and the king of France met at the time of the war and formed the League of the good Public. Philippe of Commines who assisted in this battle on the Charolais' side, left a detailed account. It was a foreign combat: the army of the king of France, strong with 30,000 well-armed home soldiers, went back towards Paris under the commanding of the king himself. When Louis XI learned that his adversary Charles the Rash, accompanied by the count of Saint-Pol who directed the vanguard, descended in haste to his meeting after having gone around Paris, he became hostile towards his enterprise, in the hope of making his junction with the forces of the Duke of Brittany, Francois II. Louis of Luxembourg, who was the count of Saint-Pol, established himself in the castle fort of Montlhéry, which barred the old route from Languedoc, the route of Saint-Jacques of Compostelle. The vanguards of the king of France traversed the Torfou forest in the north of Etampes, where they found the king. The inevitable combat happened on July 16, 1465 in the morning in the plain of Longpont. The first skirmish took place at the extremity of the Montlhéry village. The Bourguignons set fire to one or two houses and forced the French vanguards to move back. During this time, Louis XI amassed his troops behind the castle. Charles the Rash then believed that he had won the party. He moved forward with his archers. That is when the king's people suddenly stood and riddled the approaching cavalry with arrows. Charles only had one resource, and that was to take off passing by the body of archers who dispersed themselves in the forest. Charles continued on, persuaded that he had cut in pieces the king's army. When he learned that, in reality, the combat pursued in Montlhéry, he turned back with his escort and again found the bulk of the troops that Saint-Pol regrouped. The contact was exhausted. Louis XI reassembled the royal army, in good order. Guns were fired from each part without large results. Louis XI and his troops were guided towards Corbeil where the king spent the night. The Rash camped on the battlefield, persuaded that the fight would resume the next day. In the morning, he noticed that he no longer had an adversary in front of him. He uttered aloud that he was the winner and took back the Etampes road. Louis XI announced, from his side, that he was victorious. In fact, the issue of the combat stayed doubtful. But the Bourguignonne army considered this loss to Louis XI as one of the more superior losses. The greatest assets of the king of France were superior to those of his adversary.


2.4. 1. The System of Engagism

On April 6, 1529, king Francois I gave the ground and the lord's estate of Montlhéry to Francois of Escars, lord of Vauguyon and seneschal of the Bourbon, but with the option of buying it back.

From this period, the châtellenie and county of Montlhéry, ceased from directly belonging to the crown. At its head were the administration and the revenues of the estate, which succeeded one another from the engagist lords, who were obtained through the king for a determined sum. But the king always stayed master of these rights to buy back in order to dispose of the new according to his good pleasure.

As long as the king had not exercised this right of buying back, the engagist lord "was pleased at what was to come by him, his advancements and having cause, of the ground and estate of Montlhéry, his memberships and buildings, houses, manors, census, and incomes. Justice: high, middle, and bottom; the fiefdoms and, aumosnes and other accustomed charges."

He administered the provosty and châtellenie through diverse officers. The most important was the provost, or sous-bailiff. This position fulfilled the charges of the ordinary judge, or the assessor of the civil and criminal lieutenant, of the investigator and examiner, and of seer for the king. After him came: the public prosecutor of the king, the assistant to the investigator; the substitute of the king's public prosecutor, two guarantors of the auction; the chancellor : the -steward to the real seizures; the receiver of spices and consignments; the court clerk of the writing box; the court clerk of the ordinary justice; the 22 prosecutors, which were later reduced to 12; the four notaries, which, later in 1621, were created in each one of the principle parishes which came under the châtellenie; the seven bailiffs, which were later reduced to three; the twelve royal sergeants, the complete sergeant and the sergeants of the woods, the huntings, the waters, and the forests; a wine steward for the king. A wine broker, a sworn surveyor, the captain of the castle, a lieutenant of the Master's office, a captain of the. buntings and finally a chaplain of the Saint-Louis chapel.

Montlhéry was the seat of one of the ancient bailiwicks of the royalty composing the viscount of Paris. The provost of Paris do not had any right of justice, but as bailiff of Montlhéry and the other bailiwicks of the viscount of Paris.

From an ecclesiastical point of view, Montlhéry at the time of its foundation depended first on the rural district of Linas. But when the town had taken importance, that is to say in the first years of the fourteenth century, the seat of the district was transported from Linas to Montlhéry.

At this period, the built-up town of Montlhéry was accrued principally in the neighborhood of the market and in the direction of the road to Paris; several crossroads were again becoming joined to the main street. Outside the old Port Baudry, there was no longer the trace of the first enclosure which had connected the town to the chateau. Therefore, with patented letters dated July 9, 1540, the inhabitants obtained the permission to close at their own expense, their town of walls, with drawbridge, towers, graves, and barbicans, in order to protect themselves from the "bad boys." So the town was then surrounded with walls and flanked of towers. There are three principle doors by which we enter: the Port Baudry, on the Linas side; the Paris door in the direction of the capital; and the door of the Borde, opening on the access leading in one direction to the castle and the other direction at St. Michel-sur-Orge at Longpont. These fortifications, which were built in haste, were probably erected with the debris of the first enclosures of the castle.

On March 1, 1543, the royal commissioners bought back the ground and seigniory of Montlhéry from Francois of Escars. They sold it to Claude of Clermont, lord of Dampierre; but he did not keep this domain for a long time, because on March 3, 1547, the commissioners bought it back in order to give the title of promise to the chancellor François Olivier. It was only in the following year, 1548, that the chancellor of Leuville took possession of his ground and seigniory of Montlhéry.

2.4.2 THE RELIGIOUS WARS (1562 -1590)

This history of Montlhéry during the religious wars is very well-related by Jeannine Gaugue-Bourdu in her recent article. Here is a brief summary: In 1562, when the prince of Condé separated himself from the court and reassembled his army around Orleans, he seized Montlhéry. To block from the notable Argis in this way: "During the troubles of the League in 1562, Montlhéry was taken by the prince of Condé and his religious followers." The town was looted and the besieged castle became the general quarter of the Calvinists who left it in order to ravage the surroundings. The monasteries of Longpont and Marcoussis, neighbors of Montlhéry, were "devastated, given over to the lootings and burnings." Saint-Louis, the first chapel of the castle which appeared on the engravings of Chastillon, was without a doubt devastated at this moment. Until the end of the century, the castle was successively passed over into the hands of the different parties in presence. In 1585, the members of the League chased the troops of the prince of Cond6 but the townspeople of Montlhéry, exasperated, killed the captain and gave the town and the fortress back to Henri III. This is the same Henri III who, on December 9, 1587, ordered the Montlh6xiens to repair the fortifications of their town, which was a little closer to being finished in 1589. During this same year, the Duke of Mayenne, who commanded the League army, sent an emissary to the head of the troop in Montlhéry with an order to establish himself there. The provost of the town pointed out that the castle was "uninhabitable" and welcomed Henri IV as its savior, on April 5, 1590. The king made a new sojourn to Montlhéry at the end of the year. once he left, the partisans seized the castle and the town was again devastated and looted. The resistance of the townspeople was vigorous and they succeeded to chase the partisans away. But the fortress, whose state no longer permitted the installation of a regular troop, became "rather a cause of danger than protection" and the governor of Paris gave, in 1591, the authorization to the Montlherians to place it in a state of neutrality and to raze it, if need be. It was at this time that the principle fortifications of the esplanade were demolished and the materials used to finish the repairs of the enclosure walls of the town. On December 15, 1603, Jerome the Maistre, esquire of Bellejambe, obtained by licensed letters from king Henri IV, the authorization of taking the castle stones so he could build his house at Marcoussis, which is two kilometers from Montlhéry, and surrounded it with pits. However, he decided to leave the dungeon alone. Even the nuns used the rubble of the fortress to construct a chapel in Montlhéry.

2.4.3 THE LAST ENGAGIST LORDS (1603-1789)

Armand Duplessis, bishop of Lugon, who later became cardinal of Richelieu, had acquired the ground and county of Limours which fell under the jurisdiction of Montlhéry. In 1603, he learned from the queen Marie of Médicis that the ground and seigniory of Montlhéry was just placed for sale. This is how he became the seventh engagist lord of Montlhéry. But in 1627, king Louis XIII wanted to increase the privilege of his brother Gaston of Orléans. So he bought from the cardinal of Richelieu his county of Limours and removed him from Montlhéry so that they could be reunited at the dukedom of Chartres, which was the domain of Louis XIII's brother. Gaston of Orléans conserved the ground and seigniory of Montlhéry until 1660, the date of his death. After the death of Gaston of Orleans, king Louis XIV, by licensed letters dated June 19, 1662, left to his widow, Marguerite of Orleans, the pleasure and the usufruct of the Montlhéry and Limours domains. But she gave these same domains back, with the exception of the Limours castle that she wanted to live in, to Guillaume of Lamoignon, the first president of the Paris parliament, who thus became the 10th engagist lord of Montlhéry. At the death of Guillaume of Lamoignon in 1677, his widow became Lady of Montlhéry and conserved the ground and seigniory of Montlhéry until 1696. On July 18, Jean Phélippeaux, advisor of the state and intendant of the Paris generality, became lord of Montlhéry.

In 1747, Jean-Louis Phélippeaux, knight and master of the cavalry camps, succeeded his father in quality of an engagist lord of Montlhéry. He died in Paris on December 13, 1763. Philippe of Noailles, duke of Mouchy, was the last engagist lord of Montlhéry. He took back the possession of his domain in 1764. On September 17, 1764, the count of Noailles set up a minute from the state of the castle. Becoming proprietor in 1772, the count of Noailles was given a second minute on the valuation of his Montlhéy domain. This minute indicated the state of disrepair of the fortress and the urban enclosure. In effect, Montlhéry experienced some growth. The door of Paris was knocked down in 1757, allowing the loaded cars to return from the harvest. Finally, the pits were converted to gardens in 1767 and 1771. The marshall of Mouchy, count of Noailles, had married the daughter of Louis of Severac, marquis of Arpajon. When her father died, the countess of Noailles, who was his only heiress, brought to her husband: Arpajon, Saint-Germain, and the Bretonni6re, all of which constituted the marquisate of Arpajon from a recent foundation (1720). The marshall dreamt of joining these grounds to his Montlhéry domain to set it up as a dukedom, but then the French Revolution broke out. Stopped during the Terror, the marshall and his wife were decapitated on June 17, 1794.


2.5.1 The Restoration of the Castle (1842-1995)

The family of Noailles claimed ownership of the tower and outbuildings. They started, at the Restoration, a judiciary claiming against the State, but after a long process their claim was dismissed. On April 5, 1842, they set up a minute from the State's possessive hold of the tower. The tower was then classified with other historic monuments and left to the care of the town of Montlhéry. In July 1842, the municipal administration of Montlhéry acquired the neighboring grounds which, in the past, depended on the castle to convert them into walking grounds. The first of the architects sent by the commission for historic monuments to consolidate the tower and establish the restorative works was Hector Labrouste. He began on May 20, 1842 to restore the walls of the turret of stairs for lack of being able to reconstruct the vaults of warheads from the first two levels of the dungeon. He also converted the terrace just as they really were. He finished these works in 1846. The architect Garrez continued after him in 1847. He constructed the footbridge linking the two interior stairs of the tower at each floor. He repaired the gap in the enclosure wall to the left of the large tower. He also cleared the tombs of the enclosure and converted the principle door with an iron railing for security measures. His works were achieved in 1849. In 1878, the mayor complained about the deterioration of the summit terrace to the prefect of Seine-et-Oise. At his request, the commission of historic monuments ordered the architect Naples to quote an estimate for the restoration of the tower. Then, he was weighed down with the restoration itself, knowing that he would carry out the plans until January 1881. The architect Selmershein followed suit to achieve the work of his predecessor, who died. He finished in 1889. There is nothing notable to report until 1934 ... On June 20 of this year, lightning struck the top of the tower. Berthod, chief-architect, demanded an emergency credit for 4100 francs to repair the parapet and the weakened superior terrace. The works of restoration and protection against lightning were carried out in 1937. The German troops of occupation left the tower of Montlhéry in a sad state. Several series of restorative works were then necessary: replacement of the footbridge, filling of wells... The sequel of the archives say that the growing number of break-ins done on the site carries the necessity of naming a residence caretaker. Since 1944, Monsieur Gérard Goudal, architect to the local office of the Ministry of the Environment (DDE), is in charge of the restoration of the tower which is in danger of collapsing...


Scientific utilization of the Montlhery fortress by Arago and ChappeAfter the great revolutionary torment and the wars of the Empire, a calm came over all the region. The old tower, abandoning its warrior vocation, became a place for walking, and also found a new use in scientific research. In 1822, the scientist Arago used the dungeon for his experiments on the speed of sound. In 1823, a Chappe telegraph station was installed on the top of the esplanade. It receives signals from Fontenay-aux-Roses, to transmit them to Torfou and beyond to Spain. In 1839, a second telegraphic apparatus was edified at the top of the tower. This was removed in 1854. In 1874, on June 5, Cornu and other scientists used it to measure the speed of light between the dungeon and the Paris observatory by installing a glass at the top of the tower on May 7, 1914, Monsieur Defieber tried a model parachute recess from the top of the dungeon.


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Dernière mise à jour : 27.03.02 15:20