#129 Château de Vincennes
Ile de France (Val-de-Marne), France
1337 - 1373
This is NOT an official Lego site

The fabulous château at Vincennes is first mentioned as a royal Capetian hunting lodge in the Paris forest just a mile east of the Porte de Vincennes in the 12th century. King "Saint" Louis IX (1226-1270) was the first to fortify the site with a donjon, and his grandson, King Philip IV the Fair (1286-1314) added a courtyard. The fate of Vincennes might have been completely different had it not been for the untimely death of Philip IV. The Capetian line of kings of France continued through all three of Philip's sons during the next 14 years, but all three died withing a few years of becoming king, leaving - in 1328 - no direct male heir to the throne of France. There was considerable doubt about the paternity of Joan, the 16 year old daughter of Louis X (Philip's oldest son) and Philip IV's daughter Isabella was married to Edward II of England and by law unable to ascend to the throne of France herself. That left Philip of Valois, nephew of Philip IV, as closest non-English male heir and logical King of France - unless you were Isabella and Edward II of the House of Plantagenet, whose son Edward of Windsor was the most legitimate heir to the French throne! The Hundred Years War is great stuff - but our focus here is that the newly crowned King of France, Philip VI, did not feel safe in Paris...
At the onset of the Hundred Years War, Philip VI in 1337 began construction of the current castle with the huge donjon added by King John II the Good in 1361. Charles V added the approximately 600' by 1100' outer courtyard, which included the entire old castle, with its 4 corner and 5 mural towers. He also made the castle more liveable. Located near the middle of the western curtain, the donjon with its broad 45º talus and machicolated enceinte, formed a second castle within the larger one. The donjon was 52 feet square with a turret at each corner. It stood 171 feet [52M] tall! The six vaulted levels were kitchen on the ground floor, then royal hall, royal chambers [see plan below], children's apartment, officers' chambers, arsenal and combat platform. All the rooms were decorated and heated by fireplaces.
Following the period of peace from 1389 to 1415, during which time the Château de Vincennes was finished, Henry V of England resumed the war, defeating a much larger French army at the Battle of Agincourt in October 1415. He made an alliance with the Duchy of Burgundy and from 1419 to 1435 half of France was in the hands of the English or Burgundians. Henry V contracted dysentery in the Battle of Meaux in 1422 and died in the donjon of Vincennes soon after. Vincennes was in English hands from 1430 to 1432, serving as the residence for King Henry VI, but was then recaptured by the French in 1432, following the revival of the French spirit by Joan of Arc in 1429. By the seventeenth century, despite the conversion to support cannon, Château de Vincennes had lost most of its military value. During the eighteenth century the château was a porcelean factory and then a state prison housing the likes of the writer Denis Diderot, politician Honoré Riqueti, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and for five years Donatien François, the Marquis de Sade! Mata-Hari was executed there in 1917. Vincennes served as French General Staff headquarters during the invasion of France in 1940, and is now a museum, housing the archives of the Defence Historical Service. The donjon was restored in 2007.
The bridge into the
Part of the inner courtyard
including cannon platform
Plan of the entire castle at its peak Plan with the old chateau
layout still present
The plan of the first
(entrance) floor.
The plan of the second
floor (= royal suite)
The cross-section of the donjon


Photos of the Lego Model
under construction in November-December, 2010
Construction begins on November
6 with the pyramid-like plinth.
The inner courtyard is complete with
drains for rainwater - and the donjon
and powder stores outlined.
On November 11 the ring of
cannon ports is almost complete.
Here is a detail picture of
the final 4 cannon slots
under construction.
On November 17 work on the
enciente and gatehouse
The view of the interior of
perimeter sheds light on the
complexities of the gatehouse.
The gatehouse is completed
up to the level of the
The ground (kitchen) level
donjon is complete, as are
the perimeter battlements.
Next the first floor (great
hall) is complete
And work begins on the
royal apartment level.
On December 10 work begins
on the 3rd floor (childrens'
The 4th floor is next - the
servants quarters and/or


Photos of the Lego Model
Completed December 31, 2010
The view from the
And from the southeast. The southwest view. The interesting northwest
A closer view of the
south side of the donjon
with the staircases.
The north side with
its unique projection.
A closer look at the
middle gatehouse.
The bell turret.
The main door of the
donjon with its draw-
bridge (no longer there.)
The courtyard surrounding
the donjon...
And two views of the
cannon which protect...
...the outer half of the inner
castle and donjon.


Build Your Own
Lego Plan
East Elevation
South Elevation
North Elevation
West-East Cross Section

Other Château de Vincennes pages:

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Castles created by Robert Carney
Page designed & maintained by
Robert Carney