Montlhéry, cité millénaire.
The Montlhery castle by J. -C. Guillon
© J.-C. Guillon, RAG n°2,
(Translation work carried out by Christine Kaminski in 1999)
- French text
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. THE MONTLHERY CASTLE - HISTORY
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.
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
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. THE COUNTS OF MONTLHÉRY(991-1118AD)
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
2.3.4. THE BATTLE OF MONTLHERY (1465)
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 THE ENGAGIST LORDS
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
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 MONTLHÉRY FROM 1789 TO TODAY
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...
2.5.2 THE SCIENTIFIC UTILIZATION OF THE MONTLHÉRY
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.