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Château-Landon: the historical capital of the Gâtinais region

Château-Landon, the former capital of the Counts of Gâtinais, was given to the King of France in 1068 by Foulques IV "le Réchin". It became a royal residence: Louis VI, Louis VII and Philippe Auguste stayed there regularly.
However from the 6th century onwards, the town became a major religious centre and place of pilgrimage.
Here is the story behind it: a monk named Séverin, who according to legend had miraculously healed Clovis (the first Christian Frankish king), came to die in Château-Landon around 511AD.
To honour the memory of this holy man, around 545 Childebert, son of Clovis, had the first basilica built. Over the centuries this was to become the great royal Abbey of Saint Séverin. Many of the faithful came to venerate the Saint's relics. Thanks to its powerful Abbey which received gifts from the kings of France and popes, Château-Landon became a very prominent religious centre. In the Middle Ages, the town had 17 religious buildings including 4 monasteries and priories!

The cradle of the Plantagenet line...
At the end of the crusades, Foulques V, son of Count Foulques IV, le Réchin, and Count of Château-Landon became the first King of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem. His son, Geoffroy, married Mathilda of England and became the head of the famous royal Plantagenet line, which was to reign over England from 1154 to 1485. It was this same Geoffroy who slipped a small branch of broom in his helmet, leading to the name "Plantagenêt" which was to make the family famous.

French culture, heritage, chateau, museums in Seine-et-Marne
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French culture, heritage, chateau, museums in Seine-et-Marne
A wool town...
In a royal charter in 1381, Château-Landon was listed as one of the 17 "wool towns" in the kingdom.  The remains of this can still be seen today in the many mills along the river Fusain. In days gone by there were 17 mills where wool was washed. The town produced "tabards", thick woollen coats, after which the Tabarderie Park is named, a green leisure area on the banks of the Fusain.

A prime site...
Château Landon has an exceptional setting. The mediaeval town rises proudly on its rocky promontory, earning it the nickname of the "Rocamadour" of the Gâtinais region. At the foot of this narrow promontory flows the peaceful river Fusain, a tributary of the Loing, forming a very well-preserved lush green valley. The town's monuments and buildings bear witness to the high quality and fine local stone. This Château-Landon famous white stone, which is present as far as the town of Souppes, was used to build some of the monuments in Paris, for example the Sacré Coeur.
French culture, heritage, chateau, museums in Seine-et-Marne
French art, culture, architecture: Château-Landon, Seine-et-Marne
French art, culture, architecture: Château-Landon, Seine-et-Marne
French culture, heritage, chateau, museums in Seine-et-Marne

Exploring the medieval town in ten stages:

1) The Madeleine Tower
This is one of the towers that fortified the medieval town walls. Built into to the wall, the tower is 9 metres high, with impressive walls: at the base the tower's wall are 3m thick.

2) Notre Dame Church
A lesson in mediaeval architecture combining Carolingian, Roman and Gothic styles. An expression of the town's prosperity and pride, the clock tower in Château-Landon is unique in France with its Tuscan-style campanile... This very tall tower with open stone-work is a real architectural exploit.

3) The Hôtel Dieu
This building can only be visited on guided tours. The almshouse was built in 1178 as a place of refuge for the poor and a place of rest for pilgrims. The main hall is vaulted with a series of three barrel arches supported by thick square pillars. It is a simple yet highly harmonious construction.

4) The money porch
This civil monument, close to the old market hall, was the exchange bureau. It was in the Jewish quarter in the mediaeval town.

5) The Saint André Tower
Dating from the middle of the 12th century, these remains of an imposing Clunisian abbey are one of the most beautiful monuments in the town. The flat wall of the old church is still visible with its three triangular arched windows.

6) The great town washhouse
This superb building leaning out over the beautiful river bears witness to daily life in the olden days: the scene of washerwomen and their gossip, the noise of laundry beaters... Today we can still see the architectural beauty of this rural building when walking along the banks of the Fusain.

Beaupoivre mill and washhouse
Walking along the paths in Château-Landon, you can see 17 washhouses, 13 of which have been partially restored. In 1696, the mill which used to belong to the Saint Séverin Abbey was given to Claude Petit de Beaupoivre, a lawyer in Parliament. It ceased operation working after the Second World War. The great wheel was restored in 1990.

8) The old Saint Séverin Royal Abbey
The architecture of this magnificent 12th century building, which has now been converted into an old people's home having been fully restored with the help of the Conseil Général of the Seine-et-Marne département, is reminiscent of the wonder of the Mont-Saint-Michel. A pure, austere architecture, supported by powerful buttresses, built into the rock and flanked by a narrow tower, Saint Séverin Abbey is the epitome of Château-Landon. Medieval frescoes are on display in the old chapel. These were discovered in 1928 when a Carolingian crypt was cleared.

9) The southern sally port and the Tour Saint Thugal
The sally port is an open passageway through the southern wall leading to the Fusain valley. A stairway leads to it, going along the western facade of the old Saint Thugal basilica. Only the truncated bell tower remains of this religious building. This tower used to shelter the relics of Saint Thugal, founder of the monastery in Tréguier in Brittany.

10) The northern sally port
This open passageway through the northern wall leads to the "Dry valley". The stone path down which still exists to this day shows what the streets were like in the middle ages.

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