Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus, French Heritage monument to Mauvezin

The foundation of Mauvezin is lost in this darkness of the Middle Ages or the man, delivers entire to the prowesses of the brute force, raised and destroyed castles and dynasties without taking care to leave the date of his establishments or his disasters.

Some drafts of peace, some accounts of war contain the name of Mauvezin, as of the beginning of the XI E century, and its architecture proves enough that it does not go up beyond this time. Its massive style, its cyclopean heaviness worthy of the primitive fortifications of feudality, must make us seek his founder among the first lords of Bigorre, and to make it regard as one of the standard fortresses which were built out of stone, in the place of the campings of ground and of wood of which we have description gives while speaking about the count d' Astarac.

In the vast quadrilateral of Mauvezin, contemporary of the turns of Montaner and Doors, any east impresses of this nature exclusively quarrelsome and barbarian, adapts with the impregnable dens of the dominators of the XI E century. Contain in their keep, like the vultures on their rocks, these men, constantly in war, were not very anxious to get has their body robust and hardened the interior conveniences of an easy existence; the sword with the fist, and has horse, they preferred to seek with far from the wild beasts has to continue, of the travellers and of the populations has to hold to ransom. If we go up has these times move back, or the captains of lorry drivers entered their den by a raised window as the large-duke penetrates in his hole, the manor house of Mauvezin will not offer only one stone to us, not only one ornament on which art and industry have tries to carve a benevolent or gracious thought.

When the fortress is seen, one believes oneself transports in front of that of Montaner, so much the unit and the details of two constructions present points of resemblance. The keep squares, though less colossal, built out of small apparatus, and not out of brick, the same seal of antiquity offers; the same projection in the center of the curtain most easily contestable. The colossus storm-tossed which it faced so a long time, saw decouronne of its roof, and has preserve only the underground dungeon and arches or groaned so much of victims. It is hardly if one sees the trace of the floor of the higher room of weapons, or the knights made prowesses of fencing, accounts of adventures and galantery. The room has to sleep which surmounted it, and in which the companions extended on their campbeds, has half weapons, roll in a simple cover, has division the fate of the lower floor. It is not to the windows which were not deprived of their framings, like concealing us an invaluable means to dissipate the vagueness which reigns on the origin of the fortress. The only attic window which its extreme height has preservee this destruction is of form square and furnished with iron bars. However, in spite of mutilations reiterees which enleverent at the building the major part of its character, we do not hesitate has to give him for date the XII E or the XIII E century. It should be noticed, indeed, that if the enclosure of the walls forms a cross-section length, instead of imitating the circumference of the castles of Montaner and Gisors, it is not less consolidee by buttresses external of two bills of quantities of projection; the parapets lead in the tower by two access doors, alone average to penetrate in this impregnable refuge; the interior of the court, finally, presents only one central cistern, built out of stone of size. As one distinguishes no remains from tenantable buildings, it is obvious that the garrison lived under provisional shelters in the shape of hangar, while the chief placed in the high rooms of the keep.

By which exit did penetrate one at that time in the enclosure of Mauvezin? A formless opening, pratiquee in the curtain, in the south of the keep, would seem to indicate that one reached it using a scale, and it would not be impossible that the principal door, open a bill of quantities to the lower part, and provided with a drawbridge, had been pratiquee at the time of Gaston Phebus (XIV E century). We must add, in all the cases, that this door was reparee and completee by this famous Viscount, restorer of so much of strong castles; the ECU of the weapons of Bearn and Foix, encrusts in the stone, as has Montaner, the inscription Febus me Fe (Febus made me) similar has that of the keep of Pau, do not make it possible to question it.

It should not be been unaware of, moreover! the first feudal castles were a more or less sophisticated imitation of the Roman oppida; those almost always took the square form and contained a castellum (or strong castle), leans have part of the rampart, and intend has to serve as last refuge with the garrison. In accordance with these military principles, the enclosures of all the castles of the Pyrenees, except for that of Montaner, adopterent, as much as the localities allowed it, the quadrangular form, and the keep rose in the center of the most exposed curtain. It was only to the XIV E and to the XV E centuries that it was built some distance from the walls has, so as to insulate it by an interior covered way. Those of Beaucens, Doors, St-Happy and Montespan belong has this second class.

We must remark also that the castle of Mauvezin was not, at least to the XII E century, the fortress of simple vassal; it always had the title of castle comtal, like those of Doors, Orthez and Montaner. The counts de Bigorre or the Viscounts of Bearn maintained a captain with his company there, in order to supervise this part of the border. However, the men of war of this time did not point out themselves by the justice of the processes, and the severity of the discipline; also, the memory of a den of plunderers, bad neighbors; in turn, Gascons, English and Bigordans, he survived the fortress half destroyed. When the manor house was not any more the refuge of these men in the middle of iron, the legend has it people of wizard and ghosts; it has place there the Sabbath of the hantaoumos; the infernal tales have replace or, for better saying, supplement the feudal chronicles; and the manor house, doubly cursed, saw the inhabitant of the borough being avenged for these secular terrors while coming to sap his thick walls, and to conceal his materials. But let us neglect the vulgar traditions, and return to the history.

Which were the principal events, the most memorable seats whose these ramparts were the witnesses?

Esquivat, count de Bigorre, threaten by Gaston de Bearn, want to put themselves under the patronage of king d' Angleterre, Henri III; the protection of this vindicatory prince, irresolute, cannot intimidate the Viscount of Bearn. Gaston invades the count de Bigorre; several lords embrace his party; others remain faithful has Esquivat, in particular the inhabitants of Tarbes, Maubourguet and Mauvezin. However, Esquivat, press vigorously by its enemy, made donation of his fields has Simon de Monfort, his relative; but Roger, count de Foix, calls has to judge the disagreement, spared a transaction following which Esquivat had to give several hostages has Gaston; Mauvezin appeared among the castles yield in this circumstance etc One was in 1254. The count de Foix, who did not want to lose his sorrows, paid, itself, his vacations of referee, by granting his daughter to the count de Bigorre, after had mortgage its dowry of 25000 grounds, and its douaire of 20000, gives by her husband, on the castle which occupies us.

Little time after, weak Esquivat sanctioned the imprudently made donation has his/her uncle, Simon de Monfort, while obliging has to give this fortress and that of Doors to him. He hoped that its relationship would put it safe from the achievement of this expensive condition; but generosity seldom triumphs over the requirements of the ambition; and the large uncle hastened to take possession of the guarantees promised by his nephew.

Soon Philippe-the-Beautiful, benefitting from the dissensions of Bigorre, whose Constancy of Bearn, the viscountess de Turenne, Mathilde de Thiet, Guilhaume de Teisons and Mate, countess of Armagnac, disputed the possession, asserted the count, and made it seize by Jean of Length-Perrier, lieutenant d' Eustache de Beaumarchais, who raised the banner of France on the castles of Vic, of Tarbes, Bagneres and Mauvezin. However the king of France, whose life agitee appauvissement put finances into large, saw himself obliges to yield this manor house to the Viscount of Castelbon, to uncle de Phebus, Viscount of Bigorre, in hypothecation of a poor wretch summons of 500 pounds It is from this date that Mauvezin, highlighted by this business of wear, plays a rather important historical role, thanks to the disastrous domination of the English, in midday etc His strong position naturally ensured to him an active share in this fight of two nationalities. In turn taken and begun again, it was used as goal with the most heroic efforts, of theatre to the bloodiest exploits.

Remove with the Viscount of Castelbon by the English, as of the first times of their invasion, it was the first of those which the duke of Anjou vigorously attacked in his forwarding of Bigorre. The duke having entrusts has Duguesclin the care to make the seat of Doors, reserved the honor to attack in person the castle of Mauvezin, defended on behalf of the English by the honest Raymond captain of the Sword. The duke of Anjou, understanding that it could not carry the place from the start, sat his camp on the edges of Arros, close to the secular trees which ombrageaient fat pastures, and let his knights, impatient measure themselves with the English, make, like known as Froissard: skirmishes and feats of arms to the barriers of the manor house, invaded races and, apperties and beautiful blows of lances. Garcis Duchatel, one of its captains, pushed its prowesses to the fort of Trigalet, locates at the south-west of Mauvezin. Five consecutive attacks could shake neither its walls, nor the resolution of intrepid Bastol de Mauleon, knight Gascon, who kept them in the name of the lord of Labarthe.

In spite of the distress to which the garrison was reduced, Garcis had some sorrow has to make authorize Bastol, has to accept a honourable capitulation. This last finishes, however, by returning the castle provided that one would let his troops be withdrawn with weapons and luggage with the castle of Castelcueiller, on the borders of Languedoc. But while forgiving the men-at-arms, one renonca not does not have to be avenged for the castle of Trigalet; this accomplice of Mauvezin was book to the inhabitants of the canton, who empresserent themselves to destroy it basic in roof.

In spite of this failure of the English party, Raymond of the Sword would have continues has to defend the impregnable walls of Mauvezin, if, in saying of Froissard, '' soft water had not failed to them '' the French being itself seize an external well which fed the place; the horrors of thirst tourmenterent the garrison under a sky sets ablaze. It was necessary to think has to pose the weapons. Raymond of the sword obtained a safe conduct to go in the camp of the duke; and the latter had generosity to enable him to carry all that his/her companions could place on them and on their beasts of burden. Raymond, as a true chief of frank company, wanted nothing to lose of what it had gains honourably, the sword with the hand, by facing the greatest dangers. However, the word honourably could be translated into this circumstance, by that of violently, using touts the massacres, plunders, fires, treasons, only right of the war of this time; and not to let question the nature of his interested bravery, Raymond stuck immediately to the duke of Anjou, and continued under the French flowers of lily the plundering which it had a long time exerts under the English leopard.

It was an extremely ordinary means, then, to conceal by St-Georges what one did not have completes to take by St-Denis, and to fill to the throat the two pockets of the double sack

However, the duke of Anjou did not want to entrust the guard of the castle has that whose conversion appeared a little abrupt to him; he gave the guard from there to the knight bigordan Chicar de Luperiere; in removed the property with the Viscount of Castelbon, in order to punish it of its attachment to the English party, and transmitted it, according to Froissard, to the Viscount of Bearn, and according to the files of the castle of Foix to the count d' Armagnac.

Bigorre and the castle of Mauvezin did not have exhausts the adventures of these changes of Master. Sequestrations by Philippe-the-Beautiful, they were returned has Gaston de Foix by Charles VII, about 1425, in reward of the eagerness that the valorous knight had put has to come has Issoudun, to the orders of king de France, to order the intended army has to fight the English. It was not the only place besides only the count possedat in this region; Froissard tells us '' that emmy landesbourg, sied the chatel of Lannemezan which is to the count de Foix; '' but all disappeared since many years; the site alone is rather easy has to recognize. The small Romance vault of Lannemezan of which we have already speaks rose has fifty steps with raising drawbridge.

Later, when the house of Bearn was confused with that of Navarre, the castle of Mauvezin was occupies by the captain of Known (1584). The impetuous huguenot share to make it its ashamed forwarding of St-Bertrand. Treason, plundering, cruelty go has its continuation. It seizes the capital of Comminge by the trick and the lie; he extorts from the inhabitants one crushing contribution and pays has Mauvezin produces it of his plundering.

Five years later, the religionnaires still leave Mauvezin, and direct a new attack against St-Bertrand. They there penetrate by treason, exert the massacre and the depredation on a vaster scale, and go back has Mauvezin to divide the fruit of a dyed armed robbery of the blood of the priests and the middle-class men.

After this last forwarding, the frightening fortress disappears from the scene, and its name, falls into the lapse of memory, is not more pronounces.

For what is necessary it to allot this silence? With the progress of the French domination which was pressed on the abbeys and the communes, in order to carry the last blow to the feudal parcelling out.

Monarchy and the church, liguees against feudality and the sects nuns, acheverent under Henri IV and Louis XIII to destroy the influence of the chatellenies; they substituerent there that of the cities, true centers of the news, administrative and political franknesses.

All old the boulevarts of a barbarian despotism, taken successively by the armies of the first Bourbons, was books with the peasants and the middle-class men who traiterent them as they had milked that of Trigalet. More respect were deprive of garrisons and became the field of the sea eagles, of the foxes and of the bats Such was the punishment of the keep of Mauvezin; we are pleased that it was preserves like a striking testimony of the violence and the coarseness of manners of the Germanic element.

Source: Archaeological and historical voyage in the former count de Bigorre By Justin Edouard Mr. Cenac-Moncaut in 1856.

Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus
(Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus, mauvezin)

Heritage listed, historical monument, or having been under investigation

Structural information

Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus, « Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus » is a construction of the city of Mauvezin (France, Hautes pyrenees). Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus, French Heritage monument to Mauvezin mauvezin, hautes pyrenees

Location and general information

  • identifier : 105934
  • item : Château et donjon de Gaston Phoebus
  • Location of the building :
    • Midi-Pyrénées
    • Hautes-Pyrénées
    • Mauvezin
  • INSEE code of the municipality : 65306
  • Zip code of the municipality : 65130
  • Order in the communal list : 1
  • Name of the building : The building is designated by the following 3 names :
    • castle
    • strong
    • castle
  • State :
    • the current state of the monument is not known.

Dates and times

  • Period of construction : 3 different epochs of evolution of the building.
    • 13th century
    • 14th century
    • 15th century
  • Date of protection : 1941/12/22 : inscrit MH

Construction, architecture and style

  • Materials:
    • We do not have this information.
  • Roofing :
    • We do not have this information.
  • Materials (roofing) :
    • We do not have this information.
  • Other about the composition roofs :
    • No information on the coverage of the place.
  • Floors :
    • any information about this construction.
  • Stairs :
    • No stairs mentioned on this construction.
  • Decoration of the building :
    • No information about decoration.
  • Representation :
    • No information on the ornamentation of the place.
  • Typology :
    • No information about typology.
  • Plan :
    • We do not know the type of plan for this building.

Monument and history of the place

  • Elements protected MH (historical monument) :
    • This element of the building is the subject of protection : keep
  • Constituent areas :
    • no information.
  • Parties constituantes étudiées :
    • no information.
  • Use :
    • We do not know the different uses that have been made of this construction.


  • Other :
    • other Information : property of a private company Castle and Dungeon of gaston phoebus type registration by order of 22 December 1941, 1992
  • Picture : af8e0a9739ccac7ac7a7bc2fb788ebb2.jpg
  • Mérimée reference : PA00095398

Contributions documentaries made by visitors

Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus, French Heritage monument to Mauvezin. Picture of Monique c
Château et donjon de Gaston Phoebus, mauvezin
Contact contributor with his mail for more information.

Castle and Dungeon of Gaston Phoebus, French Heritage monument to Mauvezin. Picture of Monique c
Château et donjon de Gaston Phoebus, mauvezin

source of information: database Mérimée and contributions of Internet users.
Images shared by the contributors of the site are provided only that they are the owners of the photo. In case of violation of copyright, thank you for contacting us.

Participate in the increase of the database

You have "old photos" of the monument or recent, you know this monument and want to share your photos, knowledge, stories about him, click here.

The objective of the website is to preserve the collective memory heritage user intervention are offered to the community.