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Chateau Montreuil-Bellay

Chateau Montreuil-Bellay in the town of Montreuil-Bellay, département of Maine-et-Loire, France, was first built on the site of a Gallo-Roman[?] village high on a hill on the banks of the Thouet River[?].

The property, consisting of more than 1,000 acres, was acquired by a Bellay family member in 1025 but was seized by a Plantagenet during the second half of the 1100s. After the defeat of the English by King Philippe II, a Bellay descendant, Guillaume de Melun, had the massive high walls constructed with 13 interlocking towers and accessible by a fortified gateway.

As a huge defensive fortress the construction created a virtual walled city. In the 15th century the interior of the complex was modernized with a new chateau and a collegiate church with several residences for canons.

During the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) the town of Montreuil-Bellay was ransacked and burned but the sturdy fortress suffered little damage. Ownership of the chateau changed several times including, through marriage, to the Cossé-Brissac family until the French Revolution when the chateau was seized by the revolutionary government and used as a prison for females suspected of being royalists.

In 1822 the property was acquired by Saumur businessman, Adrien Niveleau, who divided the huge property into rental units. In 1860 Niveleau’s daughter undertook occupancy and a major restoration campaign, redoing some of the rooms in what is known as the Troubadour style. Descendants of her husband’s nephew still own the property to this day.

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