The castle of Pompadour was entirely transformed into a sophisticated residence, around the year 1500. Between 1560 and 1580, it was equipped with a significant defense system, designed to stay out of reach of artillery firing, under the circumstances of the religious wars going on at the time.
The outer gatehouse was built in a vast bailey, circled by a large moat and guarded by 10 circular towers, 9 of which are still standing. It was defended by loopholes, for large artillery and smaller ones called« couleuvrinières », for smaller firearms.
Notice its lovely door with its rusticated pillars, worthy of the finest Renaissance residences.
The many loopholes in the wall were probably accessible via a network of underground tunnels.
The access was guarded by a triple defense system : a first airlock called a barbican, which no longer exists today ; then a double drawbridge, which led to a pedestrian door and carriage door; and last of all, to the back door of the gatehouse, with its double casement.
It opened on to a vast embankment, built around the central castle, the artillery boulevard, enabling canons to be moved around on a flat surface. This sizeable embankment was built upon older defense systems. The surrounding wall supports this large platform where trees have now been planted.
The towers’ bottom floors were dedicated to defending the castle with hackbuts, and the top floor was a residence for officers or domestics.
The Religious War defense systems considerably reinforced the 1500s castle, which already had its own moat, that has now been filled up. It also already had its own gatehouse, equipped with a drawbridge and loopholes.
The castle's defense system
In the middle of the 16th century, the castle of Pompadour was endowed with an important defense system, to protect it from attacks in the religious war context. Here, the major points of this fortified ensemble are explained.