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Chateaux in Gironde
The fortress chateaux that exist in the Gironde are a testament to its military past. The Norman invasion, in particular, left its mark on the Gironde with the powerful Lords being forced to strengthen their fortifications. Donjons were constructed as a way of defending the chateaux and they soon became a symbol of power (see Chateau de Roquetaillade).
The chateaux of the Gironde are also distinctive because they were influenced by Pope Clement V (the first Avignon Pope). Elected in 1305, he enjoyed considerable wealth which he ploughed into building works such as Chateau de Villandraut. It was the perfect model of a palace cum fortress. The residential quarters of such chateaux are sumptuous as they served to receive prestigious guests/kings of the time. They also served as a place to store wealth and material possessions.
The Gironde chateaux also played an important role in the Hundred Years War from 1337 onwards. Many of the chateaux Lords supported Henri II Plantagenet in his wars against the French Crown. This resulted in the Chateaux constantly passing between French and English hands during this period and some were partly demolished.
After the Hundred Years War, the chateaux were redistributed among royal supporters. There was no longer any need for fortress chateaux and residential chateaux started to pop up such as the beautiful creation of Chateau LaBrede, home to the celebrated poet, politician and philosopher Montesquieu.