UBBFriend: Email This Page to Someone!
  Castle Quest
  Individual Castles
  chateau de surpierre, switzerland

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   chateau de surpierre, switzerland
posted 10-03-2000 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rebelyell   Click Here to Email rebelyell     Edit/Delete Message
I'm researching on the chateau de surpierre in the canton de Fribourg CH that belongs to my family and can be seen at www.swisscastles.ch/fribourg/surpierre.html

I need help on the topic of renaissance influence in switzerland, savoyard architecture & precise swiss history, also a hint of the age of two of the towers;( the staircase tower with the 'church' looking roof, and the very small tower overlooking the valey)
I would also like to know why the whole main renaissance building is tilted or not parallel to the opposite building, was it maybe because they didn't whant the main entrance of the building too close to the main gateway for defence reasons? ( though it seems that the gateway was added later in the XVI/XVII) or simply because of topographycal convenience?

I would like to know any coments about this castle.
Thank you!!

Senior Member
posted 10-05-2000 07:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
I don't know how much you already know, so I include everything that may be important. But as I'm specialised in medieval history, I'm not able to give you many informations about Renaissance-influence...sorry.
Since 888 AD, the region around the lake of Neuchâtel belonged to the kingdom of Burgundy. This kingdom was founded by Rodolf I., a count under the carolingian emperor Charles III., who took advantage of the weakness of the frankish empire after Charles' removal. Burgundy existed as an independent kingdom until 1032, when Rudolf III. died as the last male member of that dynasty. Although archeological evidence is rare, the rudolfingian kings seem to have buildt many castles along the old roman road from lake Geneva to the Rhine. It is possible that the earliest fortfication at Surpierre was part of that system (as historians of that area have suggested for almost every castle), but that's impossible to prove.
From 1032 to 1034 there was a war, because more than one person claimed the throne. A lot of royal castles have been destroyed in those years (f.e. the nearby castle of Murten), before the german emperor Conrad II. was finally crowned as king of Burgundy in Geneva. Because he needed the support of the local noblemen (during the war and afterwards), he allowed some of them to build castles on former royal lands. It is very likely, that the first castle of Surpierre was buildt in the middle of the 11th century, although the family of 'Surpetra' was not mentioned till the 12th century (there's also mentioned a small town, belonging to the castle).
Early in the 13th century, the noble family of Cossonay buyed the site and constructed a completely new castle - the fundaments of the 'Bergfried' and the second tower are from that period. A strong fortification was needed in those days, because during the 'interregnum' (chaotic period from 1250 to 1273, when the princes of Germany couldn't agree on one king) the mighty counts of Savoy and of Habsburg fought for supremacy in that region.
During the next two centuries, the owners of the castle changed very often, until it was in the posession of the counts of Romont and the princes of Savoy. This was the reason for it's fall in 1475, because these sires stood on the wrong side in the war between the swiss and prince Charles of Burgundy. The swiss destroyed Surpierre (as so many other castles -- we're so sorry for that today) on also the small town with the same name...
The reconstruction of the castle began soon afterwards. In 1499, after one more war, Switzerland became independent from the german kingdom and most of the counts and princes lost their influence. Surpierre got in the possession of the city of Fribourg in 1536, which used the castle as an administrative centre for its lands near lake Neuchâtel. In 1544, Surpierre was destroyed once more by a fire. The Fribourgeois used the occasion to remove most of the fortifications and to change the whole thing in a more mansion-like 'château'. All later reconstructions changed the buildings in the same direction.
I'm not sure, but I suppose that the political function of Surpierre got lost in 1798, during the swiss revolution. After that, the large complex was of no use to the city, it only would cost a lot to maintain; Fribourg selled it in 1850.
As for the age of the towers: I'd suppose that the one that looks like a church-tower was buildt not before the 16th century, same as the gateway. As for the Renaissance-building: I think it's position has nothing to do with defence. At the time when it was added, Surpierre had already lost most of its medieval fortifications, and as far as I can see, no new defensive structures had been buildt. As a fortress in case of war, Surpierre sure had lost it's earlier functions after 1475.
A typical item of savoyard castle-architecture were round towers of the 13th century. Maybe COTW-member Savoy can give you more information on that topic...
You can look up Surpierre also at
or at the official castle-map of Switzerland [Burgenkarte der Schweiz, part 1], in the book "Burgenführer der Schweiz" or the older publication "Burgen und Schlösser der Schweiz / Der Kanton Freiburg" that should be available at any big library in Switzerland.


All times are PT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | Castles on the Web

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Version 5.40
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 1999.

Castles on the WebHome
Castles on the WebIntroduction
Castles on the WebCastle Quest
Castles on the WebSite of the Day
Castles on the WebCastle Tours
Castles on the WebCastle Collections
Castles on the WebNew Sites
Castles on the WebPopular Sites
Castles on the WebPhoto Archive
Castles on the WebMiscellaneous
Castles on the WebCastles for Kids
Castles on the WebCastle Glossary
Castles on the WebPalaces & Homes
Castles on the WebMedieval Studies
Castles on the WebAccommodations
Castles on the WebTop Rated
Castles on the WebCastle Postcards
Castles on the WebHeraldry Links
Castles on the WebMyths & Legends
Castles on the WebOrganizations
Castles on the WebCastle Books
Castles on the WebAbbeys & Churches
Castles on the WebWeapons/Supplies
Castles on the WebRandom Site
Castles on the WebAdd A Castle Site
Castles on the WebAcknowledgements
Castles on the WebSearch Options
Castles on the WebPlease Help Us!
Castles on the WebPlease Link To Us
Castles on the WebContact Us

Castles on the Web Copyright 1995- | Privacy Policy