The architect was a legend, a rock star among the French court – so much so that he is often referred to simply as ‘Vauban.’ While the iconic Vauban (1633-1707) built over a hundred citadels, his own personal favourite is that of the Blaye Citadel.
Located along the right bank of the Gironde River, just downstream of Bordeaux, the ancient town of Blaye was of strategic importance, dating back to Roman rule. A castle was built here as early as 625 AD as the town was attacked numerous times during the Middle Ages. Artillery fortifications may have first been installed during the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598), a time of civil infighting between Catholics and Protestants.
In 1685, Vauban was sent to Blaye to update the citadel even further, building one of the strongest fortresses along the French Coast. Born in 1663 in the city that now claims his name, Saint-Léger-Vauban (previously known as Saint-Léger-de-Foucheret), France’s foremost military engineer of his time was both engineer and soldier. At age 17, Vauban enlisted with Le Grand Condé in the war of the Fronde. Later, despite being held captive, he became devoted to the monarchy, his once-enemy. He began engineering new designs while still a soldier and was soon known for his designs as much as (or even more than) his ability to strategically break through them. His ideas were the dominant model in sieges for almost 100 years, inspiring engineers even to this day.