International Castle Society ( ICS ) presents :
Exhibition French Donjons


The travelling exhibition French Donjons comes in four languages, Dutch, Englisch, French, and German. It features the remarkable residential towers of the Middle Ages that served as a last resort for the residents of a castle and were constructed on a prominent spot within the castle. Remining us of the centuries-long struggle between France and England a long time ago, many of these towers still stand today. They were several things at a time: living quarters, residence and symbol of the owner’s power. Such residential towers were built by kings, princes, dukes, counts or simple country noblemen.

Among the well over 1,000 residential towers still in existence, a special selection has been made to be represented on some 50 display boards. Of the four languages offered, for each exhibition a choice of three can be used according to the location.

The exhibition has as its centre piece the model of the Donjon of Coucy, reproduced at scale 1:25 placed on a base of 6 x 6 m and up to 2,40 m high. There are some 2,500 figurines mainly handcrafted. This exhibit presents the moment of a siege; ist also shows, inside the building, members of the courtly society meeting and a knighting taking place. Dancers, acrobats and mountebanks, pages, cooks and artisans are shown going about their work. At the same time soldiers on horseback as well as foot soldiers with bows and crossbows or working siege machines are shown, as well as scenes showing the exchange of prisoners and the treatment of wounded soldiers.

The model brings back to life the original donjon of Coucy which was destroyed in the First World War. It was the biggest donjon in western Europe, being 54 m high and boasting a circumference of some 31 m with walls up to 7.5 m thick. For three centuries it was home to the mightiest dynasty in France, the Enguerrands. Barbara Tuchman in her “A Distant Mirror” lovingly wrote about it as many will remember. This exhibit requires some 7 to 8 m square for a base. It has a protective glass shields all round it.

Then there is the model of a Knights’ Tournament which, on a base of 2 x 2 m, presents another aspect of courtly life in 14th century France, showing some 600 figurines. This exhibit too has protective glass shields all round it.

This exhibition has been on show at National Geographic Society, Washington DC, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, Abbey Church St. Leger, Soissons, Royal Castle Loches, Hôtel du Département, Strasbourg, Donjon of Château Sully-sur-Loire, Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt/ Main, Kriebstein Castle, Albrechtsburg Castle Meissen, Veste Coburg Castle, Plassenburg Castle, Schloss Burg Castle, and Haus der Architekten, Düsseldorf.

The whole exhibition covers some 400 sq.m. It is at present available at short notice. To exhibit it 3 months’ running time is recommended. Transport requires a 7.5 t vehicle. Posters and flyers are available on CD free of charge; a four-language catalogue is on sale.

For any information on this exhibition go to and contact Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Siepen, Gesellschaft für Internationale Burgenkunde, Grindelweg 4, 52076 Aachen, Tel. 0241-604500, Fax 0241 – 604070.

This exhibition, French Donjons, and the ICRS’ other exhibition Castles and Bazars in Crusader Times, between them so far have attracted almost one million people visitors. Both exhibitions are recommended for school groups and families.


Copyright: Gesellschaft für Internationale Burgenkunde e.V., Aachen
Stand: 27.02.2008