Royal Citadel of Brouage
UNESCO Heritage List
Visitor's Rating: (0 out of 4/Number of Votes:0)
The first name of the citadel was "Jacopolis" after the name of its founder Jacques de Pons, Earl of Hiers, who built it in 1555. At the time of its birth the citadel was an ocean port, in one of the most beautiful harbours of France.
A rich and prosperous port, with more then 4000 inhabitants (as opposed to 150 today!), the town was attached to the Crown by King Henri III under the new name of Brouage. During the reign of King Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu became the governor of the place and used it as a Catholic base to keep under control the mainly Huguenot region. Later under King Louis XIV the town is transformed into a military stronghold by Marshal Vauban.
The darkest hour of Brouage passed during French Revolution when the citadel became a prison for the unsubmissive clergies. Over the centuries the marshland took little by little the place of the ocean and the town lost its strategic significance. It is now surrounded by salty marchlands and fields.
Among the most famous of Brouage's inhabitants during the times two stand really out: Marie Mancini and Samuel de Champlain. Marie Mancini was the first love of King Louis XIV and for course the niece of Cardinal Mazarin. Being considered to low born for a royal marriage she was forced to leave the court and was exiled for several months in Brouage.
Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec was actually born in Brouage in 1580 (the Chaplain memorial house is not his birth house but a new museum!). In 1603 he sail to the New France (Nouvelle France) on the ship "Bonne Renommee". In 1608 he founds Quebec City. After Quebec was captured by the English in 1629 and before it was returned to French rule after the treaty of Saint Germain en Laye in 1632 Champlain spend his time in Brouage. The little church of the town still mentions on one of its columns that that was the place where Samuel de Champlain prayed for the return of the new found lands to French. His prayers have been answered. In 1634 he chooses the place for a new city - Montreal - that is erected in 1642.
Nowadays the little fortified town is a very pleasant place to visit. In the memory of Champlain the town still holds many ties with the Canadian province of Quebec. There are several little shops that sell French-Canadian perceived goods like maple syrup, cranberry juice, iced wine, Canadian whisky!
But the most beautiful reminders that Brouage is the birth place of the founder of Francophone culture in North America are the stained glass windows in the town’s church ... a gift from the provincial government of Quebec.