Biron Castle

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

The origins of the castle of Biron are unknown. Their masters appear in historical documents around the year 1000. The wooden buildings are replaced by thick stone walls around about the middle of the 12th Century. During the Middle Ages, Biron straddled the border of two territories : one belonging to the « rois-ducs » (kings of England and dukes of the Aquitaine) ; the other belonging to the kings of France. The castle therefore suffered several occupations, especially during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) in which France and England fought over ownership of the region.

The Gontaut Biron family is one of the oldest families of France. The brothers Pons (1460 -1524) and Armand (1462 -1531) repaired and restored most of the damage caused by the war, and improved the castle by adding new buildings. This was a long and exacting job. They were rewarded 1598 when the title of duke and peer was bestowed on Charles de Gontaut. However, it was said that Charles later plotted against his king, Henri IV, and he was consequently decapitated during the night of the 31st of July 1602. Each year, on that night, his ghost is seen to be walking in the chapel, with his head cradled under his arm... The Revolution left other destructions in its wake : the castle was completely stripped of its furnishings and the interior was mutilated and wrecked. It remained a large empty shell until it was sold in 1938. In order to save it from total ruin, the Regional Council of Dordogne took over ownership in 1974. Since then, one restoration project after another has taken place under the watchful eye of the Historic Monuments Trust.