Château de Josselin!!!

This will another update in my saga of revising older posts in my blog in these times. However, this one should be seen by more persons and it remains from visitors an off the beaten path sight; do not know why. It is an impressive castle of a family going way back in the history of France whose descendant still lives in it! Let me tell you a bit more on the Château de Josselin!!!


This is one of the towns of my lovely Bretagne that we have visited the most. Its a lovely town by the Canal Nantes-Brest and the quant city center, and of course the main thing is the Château de Josselin. I have written plenty of posts on Josselin but feel the castle deserves a post of its own; so here it is.  I have to start by saying is a must see in Bretagne, part of the history of it and France lies here, and it has been renovated in good taste with the Dukes of Rohan still living in it! Of course all this is in the town of Josselin, dept 56 of Morbihan in the region of Bretagne!!


The Château de Josselin  was built between 1490 and 1505, taking up many elements from the Louis XII style. It is one of the peaks of the Rohannais triangle of three great fortresses la Chèze, Josselin and Pontivy (see post),  which is the center of the village of Rohan, the nominal fief of the House of Rohan whose castle is neglected for the benefit of the other three. The Castle is since its construction, the residence of the Dukes of Rohan.


A bit of history I like, and history it has! 

Guéthénoc, cadet of the Ducal House of Brittany, Viscount of Porhoët, of Rohan and Guéméné, member of the family of the Counts of Rennes, would have left the feudal mound of Château-Tro in Guilliers to built in this place a first wooden castle around the year 1008. His son Goscelinus gives his name to the new fortress, castellum goscelini, from where Château-Josselin then Josselin, the casterly town that develops at the foot of the castle and offers a relative security.

In 1154, Eudon de Porhoët, stepfather, Regent and guardian of the young Duke of Brittany, Conan IV, brought together Breton Lords to deprive his son-in-law of his rights. He was defeated by Henry II Plantagenet, King of England and new Duke of Anjou, with whom Conan IV was taken refuge. Around 1170, Henri II personally directed the demolition of the Castle and planted salt to keep the walls in ruins. The fortress was raise from 1173 by the Viscount of Porhoët ,Eudon, an ally of the King of France. Then the Chatelaine passes to the hands of several large families foreign to Brittany. In 1370, it is agreed to cede Josselin, Castle and town, to Olivier V de Clisson in exchange for the Barony of Thuit, near Falaise (Normandy).

From the existing castle, Clisson built the best armed fortress of Brittany, a feudal enclosure of 4 500 m2, with a Chalet-residence and walls of 25 meters staked with nine towers and a huge dungeon of 26 meters in diameter and 32 meters in height. In 1389, Clisson was banned from the Kingdom of France and sentenced to death by Duke Jean IV. He takes refuge in his stronghold of Josselin but Jean IV does not delay to make the siege of the castle. The struggle with the Duke of Brittany will continue until his death.  After the death of Olivier de Clisson, the Château became the property of Alain VIII de Rohan ,heir to the Viscounts of Rohan, whose castle is about 20 km away, and who married Beatrice, daughter of Olivier de Clisson.

In 1488, the Duke of Brittany François II took the Castle of Josselin and partially demolished it in order to punish Jean II of Rohan for his support of the French party against him. His daughter Duchess Anne de Bretagne restored it to Jean II, who, thanks to the incomes of the Chatelaine of Dinan and Léhon, he was gratified by Charles VIII in gratitude for his help in conquering the hand of the little Duchess (also Queen of France, Anne), can transform the Castle and built in the ramparts a Logis de Plaisance (pleasure house), which will be endowed with 1490 to 1510 of a beautiful façade of carved granite typical of the style Louis XII.

Banished from Josselin because of their adherence to Protestantism, the Rohan must let the Governor of Brittany, the Duke of Mercœur, make their Castle a base for the League opposite to the new King Henri IV. The war of Succession of Brittany gave him its military role during the episode of the combat of the Thirty in 1351 as from Josselin leave the thirty supporters of Charles de Blois (sided with the king of France) under the leadership of Jean de Beaumanoir. In 1455, the Viscount de Rohan rearranges the castle to install artillery,but the time of military concerns has passed.  Jean II de Rohan undertook important restoration work aimed at improving comfort. He rebuilt the Manor House and its beautiful façade on the northeast courtyard.

Henri II de Rohan, Chief General of the Protestants, transferred the siege of his power to the Château de Pontivy. During the wars of Religion, he rebelled against the Royal power. To punish him, Cardinal Richelieu had the dungeon dismantled in March 1629 , and three towers, but spared the Renaissance building.  In 1694, after the battle of Camaret, the Castle of Josselin served as a prison for British soldiers. In the 18C, the Rohan, living at the Court, no longer resides in the castle which is unfurnished and abandoned. The castle again became a prison in 1758, after the battle of Saint-Cast, and then housed nearly 1 200 prisoners of war. In 1760, in front of the decay of the fortress, Louis III de Rohan Chabot demolished what remains of the two large towers that frame the first door and the drawbridge. In 1776, in order to provide work for poor children in the region, the Duchess of Rohan used to establish a cotton spinning mill in the rooms on the ground floor.


During the French revolution, the town of Josselin took over the castle and settled there to hold its meetings. Part of the dwelling serves as a grain depot and in the Isolated Tower the well-off are imprisoned. In 1799, the castle was returned to the Rohan family, in a much degraded state. This situation of abandonment of the Castle of Josselin will continue until around 1850. In 1822, the Duchess of Berry, during her adventurous tour, convinced the Duke of Rohan to restore it. Around 1835, Charles de Rohan-Chabot, 10th Duke of Rohan, decided to initiate a restoration in good and due form of his abode.  The exterior is rehabilitated; the interior decorated in the neo-Gothic style called “Troubadour” then in vogue and refurbished almost completely redesigned. The work was continued from 1880 to 1904 and then in 1917, before being opened to the public in 1930.  It is currently inhabited by the 14th Duke of Rohan, Josselin de Rohan, withdrawn from regional or national policy affairs, and his family. The gardens and four large rooms on the ground floor of the Castle are visited, the long dining room whose top of the paneling is carved up to date with the names of Duke Alain, his parents, his wife and his children, the Salon, an anteroom and the library containing 3 000 volumes and old portraits. Very nice kept indeed!



There are many works of art exhibited such as paintings by masters including a portrait of Louis XIV by Rigaud, that of the Admiral of the Casse attributed to Rigaud, that of Louis XV child by Rosalba Carriera, number of family effigies like the Cardinal of Rohan, the Duchess de La Rochefoucauld d’Enville, Josselin de Rohan-Chabot 12th Duke of Rohan and member Deputy of the Morbihan dept by Jean-Gabriel Domergue, the marble bust of Duke Alain by Auguste Rodin, a beautiful 18C furniture, the table that served for the signature of the Edict of Nantes, porcelain of Sèvres, a large pendulum offered by Louis XV to Bussy, successor of Dupleix as Governor of the French India c 1755, the bronze copy of the famous statue of Henri of Navarre young by Bosio who was shown until 1830 the apartment of the Royal children at the Palais des Tuileries (Paris) , a monumental equestrian statue in marble by Olivier V de Clisson by Emmanuel Frémiet whose plaster reproduction, offered by the 12th Duke, is exhibited in a room of the Château de Suscinio (Morbihan). The old stables have been upgraded to accommodate the doll museum (musée des poupées) of historical dolls collected by the Duchees of Rohan and very interesting especially for children.


The French garden created at the beginning of the 20C extends to the Renaissance façade of the Castle of Josselin. Boxwood and trimmed yews frame the lawns.  A rose garden has been arranged in 2001. It comprises 160 roses belonging to 40 different varieties.  An English park stretches at the foot of the ramparts, along a river. This park features rare species of azaleas, camellias, many rhododendrons and centuries-old trees. It is open to the public for the heritage days (journées du patrimoine).


As usual by me , some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Château de Josselin

The Morbihan tourist board on the castle:

The Bretagne tourist board on the castle:

It should be one of your highlights of a visit to Brittany away from the beaches. I say worth the detour indeed at the Château de Josselin. Enjoy it with the whole family and not forget to visit the Dolls museum in it, great for all but especially for children.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

One Comment to “Château de Josselin!!!”

  1. That is what I call a chateau!

    Liked by 1 person

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