The 21st of July is Belgium‘s National Day. This date was chosen as on July the 21st, 1831, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha took the Constitutional Oat to become King of the Belgians. Being a public holiday with many shops and catering options closed, Oriol and I decided to go to Sedan just across the border in France. Sedan had been on my wish list for a while and it was near our Florenville – Orval – Bouillon weekend in the Belgian Ardennes.
As a modest history buff, I associate Sedan with the 1870 Battle of Sedan during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Emperor Napoleon III surrendered to Wilhelm I, King of Prussia and future German Emperor.
Sedan is a commune or municipality in the Ardennes department and Grand Est region of north-eastern France. It is also the chef-lieu or administrative centre of the arrondissement of the same name. The town is situated about 200 km from Paris, 85 km north-east of Reims, and 10 km south of the border with Belgium.
The historic centre occupies a peninsula formed by a bend in the river Meuse. Sedan station has rail connections to Charleville-Mézières, Reims and Longwy. The A34 autoroute links Sedan with Charleville-Mézières and Reims.
Sedan was founded in 1424. In the 16th century Sedan was an asylum for Protestant refugees from the Wars of Religion.
Until 1651, the Principality of Sedan belonged to the La Tour d’Auvergne family after it had been the possession of the House of La Marck.
It was at that time a sovereign principality. Their representative, Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne, was born at Sedan on 11 September 1611.
With help from the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, it defeated France at the Battle of La Marfée. Immediately after its victory, Sedan was besieged and its prince, Frédéric Maurice de La Tour d’Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon, submitted to France. It was annexed to France in return for sparing the prince’s life after he became involved in a conspiracy against France.
On 2 September 1870 Napoleon III was taken prisoner with 100,000 of his soldiers at the First Battle of Sedan. Due to this victory, which made the unification of Germany possible, 2 September was declared Sedan Day (Sedantag) and a national German holiday in 1871. It remained a holiday until 1919.
From May 12 to 15, 1940, during World War II, German troops invaded neutral Belgium and crossed the river Meuse by winning the Second Battle of Sedan. The battle allowed them to win the Battle of France by bypassing the Maginot Line, which was the French fortification system, and entrapping the Allied Forces that were advancing east into Belgium, as part of the Allied Dyle Plan strategy.
Sedan Castle is the plat principal, the main event of Sedan. The Château de Sedan covers an area of 35,000 square metres (380,000 sq ft) in its seven floors-
Around 1424, Eberhard II von der Mark built a manor with two towers around a church over a period of six years. When Eberhard died in 1440, his son Jean de la Marck began reinforcing the fortress, but it was Robert II de la Marck, the grandson of Jean, who finished the most important work.
In 1530, the fortifications of the manor were modernised by the construction of a circular boulevard and terraces with cannons, thickening the 4.5-metre (15 ft) curtain wall by an additional 26 metres (85 ft).
The bastions were added during the course of the next century, but some of them were eventually dynamited at the end of the 19th century.
In 1699, the principality having been absorbed into France in 1642 and the castle having been transformed into a garrison, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, Lord and Marquess of Vauban built the Princes’ Gate, that was adapted to the progress of artillery. In 1822, the St. Martin’s Church was demolished and replaced with a store for cannonballs.
On September 1, 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, the Army of Chalons was defeated at the Battle of Sedan. Napoleon III surrendered the following day in the small neighboring city of Donchery.
World Wars I and II
The castle was used as a military hospital by the German army in World War I. Sedan was also the site of a French loss to the Germans in World War II in the Battle of Sedan (1940).
The castle was given by the French Army to the city of Sedan in 1962. Today the castle contains a hotel and a museum showing the lives of inhabitants throughout its history and the Franco-Prussian War.
Visiting Sedan Castle is straightforward. There is a route, there is an audioguide. For a castle, it’s fairly accessible. I visited many medieval castles over the years and this one is fairly comprehensive and not too basic or childish.
There is only one bathroom option though. And it wasn’t very fresh.
5 Comments Add yours
Looks an amazing place.
Thanl’s Timothy for share.
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It is. A beautiful castle.
Have a great day.
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I can see it.
You as well.
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