Let’s go to Josselin!!

Well it’s time to tell you again and update about the wonders of my department 56, Morbihan of lovely Bretagne. It has so much to offer , no wonder is the third destination of the French! for vacations and very prize to live here. You have forest, lakes, rivers, monasteries, castles, churches, things to do galore, the beaches, the sea goodies , the cider ,the galette hey hey wait a minute. I am trying to tell you all in advance!! Anyway, my belle France is a country of wonders, no doubt why no 1 most visited country since numbers are kept which is like after 1949 by the UN-WTO. We reach 90M visitors before the pandemic , and we only have about 67M folks living lol! But, let’s go into the wonderful introduction to the city of Josselin , cradle of Brietagne’s history and France.

Josselin is located between the Rennes/Lorient Expressway  (N24) and the Nantes-Brest Canal on the Oust river. Located 44 km from Vannes, 73 km from Lorient and 81 km from Rennes, and 50 km from me. It is the name of the one who built the castle of the same name. This Josselin was one of the sons of Guethénoc, Count of Porhoêt, who lived from the year 998 to the year 1040. Anecdote, the current owners are also call Josselin.


A bit of history I like on Josselin and the castle

Josselin is a town probably created around the year 1000 by Guéthénoc, son of the Duke of Brittany Conan Ier the Wrong. This viscount of Porhoët would have built in this place a first wooden castle around the year 1008 and which will be destroyed by King Henry II Plantagenet in 1168. His son Goscelinus gives his name to the new fortress, Castellum Goscelini, from where Château-Josselin then to Josselin town is name and which offers a relative security.

According to the legend, in 808, a laborer discovers a statue of wood in the brambles which allowed his daughter, blind to be born, to find the sight. Following this miracle, a Chapel and then a Church with still some remains from the 12C and finally a Basilica are built in the place of this discovery. In this Basilica, a fresco recalls the struggle of the thirty that took place halfway between Ploërmel and Josselin in the Hundred Years War. Josselin was a main government district between 1790 to 1795, where a revolutionary military commission was held. Nothing much to tell from the great wars.

A must is the Château de Josselin,( see post) much of the history of Brittany and France. Built between 1490 and 1505 by picking up many elements of the Louis XII architecture style. It is one of the points of the Triangle Rohannais (three great fortresses la Chèze, Josselin and Pontivy) which has for center the village of Rohan, the nominal fief of the House of Rohan. Guéthénoc, cadet of the ducal house of Brittany, Viscount of Porhoët, Rohan and Guémené, a member of the family of the Counts of Rennes, would have left the feudal motte of Château-Tro in Guilliers to build in this place a first wooden castle around the year 1008.


Around 1170, Henri II came in person to direct the demolition of the castle and filled with salt to keep the walls in ruins. The castle is passed on into the hands of several great families foreign to Brittany, including the Lusignan, the Counts of Alençon and the Perche. In 1370, the latter agreed to cede Josselin, Castle and town to Olivier V de Clisson in exchange for the barony of Thuit, near the town of Falaise. From the existing castle, Clisson built the best armed fortress of Brittany: A feudal enclosure of 4 500 m2, with a chattel-residence and ramparts of 25 meters dotted with nine towers and a huge dungeon of 26 meters diameter and 32 meters high. In 1389, Clisson was banished from the Kingdom of France and was sentenced to death by Duke John IV. He fled to his stronghold of Josselin, but John IV soon made the siege of the castle. Dotted with truces, the struggle with the Duke of Brittany will continue until his death. After the death of Olivier de Clisson, the castle became the property of Alain VIII de Rohan (heir to the viscounts of Rohan), who married Beatrice, daughter of Olivier de Clisson. His son Alain IX de Rohan began to build a dwelling that he was leaning on in the towers and the courtyard.

In 1488, the Duke of Brittany Francis II took the castle and demolished it partially in order to punish John II of Rohan for his support of the French party opposed to him. His daughter Anne of Brittany gave it back to John II, banished from Josselin because of their adherence to Protestantism, the Rohan had to let the governor of Brittany, the Duke of Mercœur, make their castle a base for the league opposed to the new King Henry IV. The history of the castle remains obscure for many years, but the war of Succession of Brittany makes it its military role during the episode of the war of the thirty in 1351 as from Josselin depart the thirty supporters of Charles of Blois (for battle of Auray) under the leadership of Jean de Beaumanoir.

The castle passes into the hands of the Rohans, whose rise is affirmed in the 15C. In 1603, when the viscounty of Rohan was erected in the duchy-paired by King Henri IV, Henri II de Rohan, the chief general of the Protestants, transferred the siege of his power to the castle of Pontivy. In order to punish him, Cardinal Richelieu dismantled the dungeon in March 1629 (in two times, as its mass was imposing) and three towers, but spared the Renaissance building. In 1694, after the Battle of Camaret, the castle served as a prison for the English soldiers.  In the 18C, the Rohans, living at court, no longer reside in the castle which is unfurnished and neglected. The castle reverted to prison in 1758, after the Battle of Saint-Cast, and then sheltered nearly 1 200 prisoners of war. In 1760, in the face of the decay of the fortress, Louis III of Rohan Chabot demolished what remains of the two large towers that frame the first gate and the drawbridge. In 1776, in order to provide work for poor children in the region, the Duchess of Rohan established a cotton mill in the rooms on the ground floor. During the French revolution, the town requisitioned the castle and settled there to hold its meetings. In 1799, the castle was returned to the Rohan family, in a very degraded state. In 1822, the Duchess of Berry, on her adventurous tour, convinced the Duke of Rohan to restore it. Around 1835, Charles de Rohan-Chabot, tenth duke of Rohan, decided to undertake a proper restoration of his home, which was largely dilapidated. The construction site starts around 1855, and work continues until open to the public around 1930.

The castle is presently inhabited by the 14th Duke of Rohan, Josselin de Rohan, withdrawn from the affairs of regional or national politics, and his family. The gardens and four large rooms on the ground floor of the chateau, the long dining room, whose top of the panelling is carved up to date with the names of the Duke Alain, his parents, his wife and children, the living room , an antichamber and library containing 3 000 volumes and old portraits. Many works of art are exhibited: paintings of Old masters . On the stables have been rearranged to accommodate the Dolls museum. ,a collection enjoyed by the Duchess of Rohan. The French garden were created at the beginning of the 20C along the front of the Renaissance facade of the castle. A rose Garden was built in 2001 and has 160 roses belonging to 40 different varieties. An English garden, also created, extends to the foot of the ramparts along the river. This garden presents rare species of azaleas, camellias, many rhododendrons and centenary trees only open in heritage days and go to the garden event. Nice


Other things to see in Josselin me think are:

The Basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Roncier,(see post)  also a parish Church, built at the end of the 12C and several times enlarged and modified. It houses the tombs of Olivier V de Clisson, Constable de France, and his wife Marguerite de Rohan. There is a pilgrimage here and one of the most important of the Morbihan, after that of Sainte Anne d’Auray (for Sainte Anne).

The Fontaine Notre-Dame-du-Roncier still called the Miraculous Fountain dated 1675, restored in 1958 is a fountain-wall.  The Chapelle Sainte-Croix founded in 1060 at the place-dit le Prieuré , including the 11C nave with flat bedside, the massive tower and the lateral chapel. The granite Calvary representing Christ in the Cross, Saint Laurent, Saint John the Baptist, Sainte Anne Crowned and the Virgin and the child at the foot. The Church of Saint Martin, which depended on the Saint-Martin Priory of Josselin founded in 1105, became a parish around 1400. It was very revamped in the 17C, the nave was destroyed in the 19C and a chapel was rebuilt in its place. It is important for the Breton Romanesque architecture because it reproduces the real Benedictine plan. The Carmelite Convent of St. Joachim says of the retreat, Sisters of Wisdom was built from 1640, enlarged in 1750 and the Chapel was rebuilt in 1975.  There are only restored remains of the convent of the Ursulines of Notre-Dame, which were established in 1646.  The Benedictine Chapel known as the congregation was built from 1702 and surmounted by a belfry in the 19C.

The City/Town center or downtown between the Basilica and the Castle is made up of medieval half-timbered houses and stone houses. The house of the place Notre-Dame built in the 15C;the house dated 1538 to pilasters in spindles on the ground floor and the wood of 3 rue Georges-Le-Berd, the old Grande-rue, that of rue Glatinier dated 1602 , the one called Maison Morice at 21 rue Olivier-de-Clisson those of 27 rue Olivier-de-Clisson that of the 4 place of the Resistance, that of the Rue des Trento, those of 5 and 7 rue des Trento; Two houses rue Saint-Michel, the building of the 16C of 3 rue des Devins ‘ mansion built in 1763 at 6 rue des Devins le logis and 4 rue Olivier-de-Clisson, the only one of this time in stone. With the ancient ramparts, the Oust river forms the boundary of the medieval city. The Mall is a tree promenade in the heart of the city.



The Official Chateau de Josselin: https://www.chateaudejosselin.com/en/homepage/

The City of Josselin on heritage and castle: https://www.josselin.com/decouvrir/histoire-et-patrimoine/

The Bretagne region tourist office on Josselinhttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/destination-broceliande/josselin/

There you go folks, a dandy town of Josselin to enjoy fully! You have a beautiful old town and a gorgeous castle, a must to visit in the Morbihan. Hope it helps your plans.

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

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