Philippe Auguste and the founding of the Louvre
The history of the Louvre begins around 1190 with Philippe Auguste?s decision to erect a fortified enclosure to protect Paris. This was an important gesture in favor of urbanism and a display of the king?s authority just as he was preparing to leave the country to go to war in the Crusades. To defend one of the weak spots in this fortification, namely its junction with the Seine, a castle was needed: as such, the Louvre was born. The building designed by Philippe Auguste?s engineers was square in plan, protected by a moat, and equipped with circular defensive towers at its corners and in the middle of its sides. In the center of its courtyard stood a main tower with its own moat. This model was used on several occasions with some variations; the Ch?teau de Dourdan in Ile-de-France still offers a well-preserved example.
Philippe Auguste?s Louvre was not a royal residence but a garrison fortress. It was not in the very heart of the city?as it is today?but on its outer limits. Its mission was to protect and perhaps also to watch over the city. The Louvre?s ?Grosse Tour? or cylindrical keep also acted as a royal strongbox and a prison for important people. Ferdinand, count of Flanders and enemy of Philippe Auguste, was held there for thirteen years after being defeated at the Battle of Bouvines.
The ch?teau?s site however underwent rapid change. A dense urban district gradually grew up around it, taking away its defensive interest. In addition, the kings of France, who liked to travel between their various residences within the capital, were to find themselves staying there more and more. A large pillared hall set in the ch?teau basement and dating from the reign of Saint Louis (1226?70) can still be seen today.
Uploaded: Aug 13, 2017