Beynac Castle, one of the Baronies of Périgord

Beynac Castle
Beynac Castle

Beynac  Castle is, with Biron, Bourdeilles and Mareuil, one of the four Baronies of the historic County of Périgord that was formed during the 10th century.

King Henri IV reattached it to the French Crown in the 15th century.

The old fortress of Beynac is perched on a 150m high and abrupt promontory.

It commands the Dordogne and its valley and boasts prime views over the region.

A double curtain wall protects it on the other side of the promontory.

Beynac Castle at the heart of the Franco-English rivalry

Beynac Castle was not that impregnable, though!

The English indeed seized it during the conflict triggered by the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henri II of England in 1152.

Beynac Castle seen from Castelnaud
Seen from Castelnaud

A band of ruthless pillagers, who acted on behalf of the English King, then used it as stronghold until 1214.

Simon de Montfort, Count of Leicester by his mother and leader of the rebellion against Henri III of England, captured the ruined fortress.

He pulled it down and rebuilt it.

However, Beynac Castle became once more English possession in 1360.

It was indeed one of the territories the French king retro-ceded with the Brétigny Treaty at the beginning of the Hundred Years War.

That said, his troops re-seized it in 1368!

They turned it into a base camp from where they fought the English troops based in Castelnaud, on the southern riverbank.

Beynac Castle today

Montfort built the current fortress dates in the 13th/14th centuries, but the manor-house dates from the 15th century.

Beynac Castle chapel
Chapel

This is where you’ll find the main architectural features of the castle; the broken barrel vault of the Great Hall of State and the Gothic frescoes of the Oratory.

The chapel is now the village parish church.

The fortified village stretches along the steep lane that connects the fortress to the river.

The houses and the remaining fortified gate were all built in the local golden limestone.

They were beautifully restored and turn Beynac into a picturesque village of Dordogne.

Coordinates: Lat 44.839863 – Long 1.142103

Photos via Wikipemia Commons: BeynacBeynac seen from Castelnaud

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