From a simple fortified manor house to a fortress during the Hundred Years’ War, from a residential castle transformed into a farm, the Château de Blandy-les-Tours has a long history and many prestigious families have figured among its owners. Restored by the Conseil Départemental de Seine-et-Marne, the castle, a rare example of medieval military architecture in the Île-de-France region, is now combines a heritage site and a venue for contemporary artistic creation.
History of Château de Blandy-les-Tours
Viscount Guillaume II and Viscount Adam III of Melun, direct descendants of Adam II who fought alongside Philippe Auguste at the Battle of Bouvines, built the first fortified wall around the Manoir de Blandy in 1220 to make it their stronghold. The Comté of Melun was part of the royal estate, so the fortress represented a show of royal strength as well as occupying a strategic position to keep watch over the border shared with the impetuous Comte de Champagne. In 1316, the Viscounts of Melun formed an alliance with the Comtes de Tancarville. Structural changes and new buildings transformed the old manor house into the castle we see today.
For 250 years after the Hundred Years’ War, the castle belonged to the most illustrious families of the kingdom : its owners were related to the families of Orléans-Longueville, Bourbon-Soissons, Savoie and Nemours.
The castle keep
The castle was refurbished in the style of the day with a gallery, ‘jeu de paume’ (real tennis) court, ‘modern’ facilities, decoration and ornamental garden, but there no significant changes were made to the surrounding walls. The 18th century saw a major turning point in the history of Blandy centred round the figure of Maréchal Claude-Louis-Hector de Villars (1652-1734). On being made a duke in 1705, de Villars needed to acquire lands to legitimize his new rank so he bought the Comté of Melun and the Seigneurie of Blandy from the Duchess of Nemours’ heir. His new title was tied to the land of Vaux-le-Vicomte whose château he bought that same year. Starting in 1707, the Maréchal converted the castle of Blandy into a simple farm.