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Briffœil Castle

Belgian Castles

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Briffœil Castle, locally known as Château de Briffœil, lies east of the hamlet with the same name, in the province of Hainaut in the Wallonia region in Belgium.

An earlier fortification at this site probably already existed in the 12th or 13th century when the land belonged to the Briffœil family.

In the 15th century Briffœil Castle was a moated quadrangular enclosure flanked by corner towers. Within the enclosure stood a seigniorial farm with stables, a manor and a chapel. So Briffœil Castle was probably built in the 13th or 14th century. The castle was often manned by a garrison probably because of its proximity to the border between the German County of Hainaut and the French Tournaisis territory. When the castle was garrisoned its owners, the d’Enghien family, lived elsewhere and it was administered by a squire while its lands where administered by a bailiff. The round tower we see today dates back to that period.

In 1477 Briffœil Castle was besieged without succes by French troops led by the Sire of Mouy for Louis XI of France. In 1478 the French returned to the area. This time chatelain Antoine de Mortagne, instead of abandoning the castle to the French, set fire to the castle which left it in ruins.

Later it was rebuilt and went to the d’Argenteau and Merode families. They never lived in the castle but left its management to bailiffs.

In the 17th century the domain of Briffœil went to the Vilain de Gand family. They probably did reside in the castle from time to time as it was rebuilt and repaired. The ruined stable building and the chapel of Saint-Georges we see today probably date back to that period.

In 1655 French troops again besieged Briffœil Castle, this time led by Turenne, Marshal General of France, for Louis XIV of France. The castle surrendered after a day. Afterwards the French troops tore down its defenses and demolished the castle. Later that century it was partly rebuilt.

Due to financial difficulties the Vilain de Gand family had to sell the castle to the Hannecart family from Ath in 1705. They made it their primary residence. In 1745 the castle served as the headquarters for Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, Dominik von Königsegg-Rothenfels, Imperial Fieldmarshal, and Karl August, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont, during their preparations for the Battle of Fontenoy.  In 1745 the castle was renovated.

During the French Revolution Briffœil Castle was confiscated, the Hannecart family fled and never returned, leaving the castle deserted. During the 19th century the abandoned castle dilapidated. Finally in 1869 the castle was sold at an auction for building materials and subsequently demolished.

At present the chapel can freely be visited. The tower and stable ruin are on private farmland. A nice forgotten castle.

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