Castle of the Week 93 – Modave

The Chateau des Comtes de Marchin, better known as Modave Castle, is situated on a large rock ledge hanging over a small tributary of the River Muse in the middle of what is now a nature reserve. It’s in the province of Liège, about 30km from the city of that name. Although a few parts date back to the 13th century, the majority of it was restored, both outside and inside in the mid 17th century.

The 13th century castle was completed by Walther de Modave in 1233 and was protected by moats, walls and turrets; the tower is the remaining part of this original castle. The family was an important one and the castle became a feudal palace. It was badly damaged in the late 15th century during the wars between the Duke of Burgundy and the inhabitants of Liège.

It was purchased in 1642 by Jean de Marchin, a friend of Philip IV of Spain and Charles II of England and a great military commander. He fought in Spain and the Netherlands but, after a disastrous campaign in Portugal in 1664, he returned home and decided to use his fortune on restoring the castle. Much of what you can see now is from this restoration which took fifteen years. His son followed in his footsteps with a military career but, having been brought up in France, rarely visited Modave which started to decay.

In 1682 he sold Modave to Maximilien-Henri of Bavaria, the Archbishop and Elector of Cologne who, two years later, sold it to William, Count of Fürstenberg. He had the patronage of Louis XIV of France and beautified the inside of the castle to a sumptuous level hoping for advancement. His hopes were dashed and he ended his days in a Parisian monastery.

Modave passed to the de Montmorency family, one of the premier families in France, by marriage. Anne-Léon, duc de Montmorency, was a Field Marshal in the musketeers and fought in the siege of Namur, the battle of Rocour and the German campaign of 1763. The family rarely visited Moldave until the French Revolution of 1789 when they took refuge there, offering shelter to Louis XVI, but the King was arrested before he could reach the safety of Belgium. The French armies advanced into Belgium so the Montmorency’s fled to Germany and sold the castle with all its contents. It changed hands several times between the Lamarche and Braconier families until, in 1928, it became a limited company.

Since 1941 it’s been owned by a water company and nowadays about 20 of the rooms are open to the public – many beautifully decorated with stucco ceilings, marble fireplaces and Gobelin tapestries and filled with items and furniture from the castle.

Write-up provided by GillB. Pictures courtesy of Jayhawk.