The Beginings

It is still difficult to date the founding of the site of Vouvant. The only proof of the beginnings of Vouvant is shown in a Charter granted to the Abbey of Maillezais, by William the Great, Duke of Aquitaine, between 1010 and 1020.

William the Great, wishing to assert his authority over Bas-Poitou, chose Vouvant for the building of a grand fortress, probably at ‘Chateau Neuf’, and constructed a monastery complex there as well.  Before the building at Chateau Neuf, there probably existed, across the river, a small fortified castle, called « le petit château », which was a meeting place for those involved locally in the hunt.

After 1190 the seigniory of Vouvant passed to the Lusignan family, who sometimes found themselves in opposition to the King of England, and sometimes to the King of France, as a consequence of the two marriages of Eleanor of Aquitaine – first to Louis VII, King of France and later to Henry II, King of England.

geoffroy-lusignan-vouvantIn 1241 the Lusignans, and especially Geoffrey ‘Big-Tooth’, did not want to submit to the King of France. Saint Louis fought for, and consfiscated Vouvant, then putting it under the control of the church. This battle damaged the castle which was later reconstructed and altered. The Melusine Tower dates from this period, a small slender dungeon, symbol of royal power.

Geoffrey ‘Big-Tooth’ died childless and the land thenpassed to the family of the Archbishop of Parthenay. During the 14th century and the Hundred Years War, the castle was further modified : the fortifications were extended and the dungeon restored.

arthur-richemontIn the 15th century, the King conferred control of Vouvant to his First Military Officer, Arthur of Richemont, and in 1458 the lands fell to the control of John, ‘Bastard’ of Orleans. During the Renaissance, Vouvant was at its peak, but the Religious Wars destroyed her beauty and power. Finally Vouvant returned to the control of the crown of France in 1694.

Vouvant went on to have a prosperous period, but short-lived, as under Louis XIV, the crown lost interest and put the land up for auction in 1718. The privileged location of Vouvant, as a defensive site on a rocky outcrop, with difficult access was no longer an asset, but a hindrence to its development, especially in the 19th century when the question arose of the operation of the coal mines in the Vouvant area.

In the 20th century with the development of tourism and the desire of families to live in the countryside, its exceptional location once again became an asset.

naissance Vouvant