architectural and historical context
Guédelon has adopted a specific historical timeframe.
The start date for the castle's construction is taken as 1228
At the start of the construction, the year was taken as being 1228. Louis IX, the future Saint Louis, was crowned in Reims three years earlier in 1226; too young to rule, his mother, Blanche of Castile, acted as Regent until 1235.
Locally, Puisaye is under the control of Jean de Toucy. To the south-east lies the county of Auxerre-Nevers, controlled by Mahaut de Courtenay; in the north, the Capetian lands of Gâtinais. On the eve of the sixth crusade, Puisaye is enjoying a period of relative peace and stability.
An imaginary social context
The builder of Guédelon castle is Guilbert, a fictional low-ranking local lord, vassal of Jean de Toucy, himself vassal to the king of France. His overlord has just granted him "licence to crenellate".
His modest status in the feudal hierachy and his limited financial means, prompt him to raise a "small" castle, a fortified manor house, far removed from the scale of the royal castles of the Louvre in Paris or Brie-Comte-Robert in Seine-et-Marne.
The architecture of Philip Augustus
The future castle of Guédelon is an entirely new construction; there are no vestiges of a former castle in or around the site. The castle's design is based on the architectural canons laid down by Philip Augustus in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Philip II Augustus, King of France from 1180-1223, is attributed with standardising the military architecture of castles in the French kingdom. Examples of this standard plan include the Louvre in Paris, Yévre-le-Châtel castle in Loiret, or more locally, the castles of Ratilly or Druyes-les-Belles-Fontaines in Yonne.
Castles built to this standard plan have the following characteristics: a polygonal ground plan; high stone curtain walls, often built on battered plinths; a dry ditch; round flanking towers pierced with single embrasured arrow loops, the position of which is staggered on each floor of the tower; one corner tower, higher and larger than the rest: the tour maîtresse; twin drum tower protect the gate.
During his reign, Philip Augustus established - by way of treaties, alliances and politically advantageous marriages - a long-term Capetian policy of expansion, this fact justifies the choice of a French, as opposed to a Burgundian, architectural model in this particular part of France.