A little history
Around 1251 Hendrik van Gelre started building Montfort Castle on the site of an earlier fortification. Until
1267 a curtain wall, out of natural stone, was built, on an irregular ground plan on a mound. It was equipped
with 2 round towers on its northern corners and 2 open bastions on its southern corners, enclosing a courtyard.
In those times it was located in inaccessible marshlands and moated. The groundlevel inside the castle walls
was higher than the surrounding lands to stay dry during fluctuating waterlevels.
The castle is a typical example of a transitional type of a round castle turning into a square one.
After the death of Hendrik in 1284 the castle came into the possession of the Dukes of Gelre. It became their
most southern bastion. In 1285 the castle was added with a new keep next to the entrancegate. This was a so
called beak-tower which is unique for the entire Benelux. Its outward facing wall points out to reflect
objects that were hurled towards it. It was named 'the Grauwert' (the Grey One) and its building was ordered
by Count Reinoud I of Gelre. This keep had a diameter of ca. 12 meters and walls of up to 3,5 meters thick.
Count Reinoud however didn't enjoy this new keep because he was kept prisoner in it, by his own son, from 1320
until his death in 1326.
Under the rule of Count Reinald II of Gelre underwent a lot of building activities in 1342 and 1343. Several
residential and industrial buildings were put up inside the castle against the north and east walls and the
castle was considerably strengthened which made it a formidable stronghold. In several medieval texts the
castle was considered impregnable.
Between 1473 and 1477 the castle was besieged by troops of Karel the Bold and also in 1493 the castle was
besieged. These war acts caused a lot of damage to the castle.
The castle was again besieged and heavily damaged between 1543 by troops of Emperor Karel V.
Due to the threat of new tactics using artillery a new square wall with bastioned corners was put up around
the entire castle around 1550. Also it was provided with a double moat. These new defensive works were
repaired between 1632 and 1643. This, however, couldn't prevent the castle for losing its military importance
at the end of the 17th century.
In 1685-1687 and the following centuries its outer defensive works were demolished and sold and the keep was
blown up. The moats were filled in and the mound on which the castle stood was dug off, revealing the
foundations of the curtain walls. The castle ruins were repeatedly used as a quarry for cheap building
materials by the locals.
In 1840 an octagonal hunting lodge was built on the ruins of the northeast tower which has also fallen into
ruin. In 1952 the last private owner sold the castle ruins to the Valkenburg Castle Association who carried
out some preservation works.
Directly next to the castle ruins lies a farm and when I visited, the normal entrance to the castle grounds
was closed and I was permitted entrance through a side door by the farmer's wife. The castle grounds were
fenced off and occupied by a flock of grazing sheep. It's a very nice castle ruin to go to and it doesn't seem
to receive many visitors.
The castle has got its own website at Kasteel Montfort.nl.
Location and contact information
At Huysdijk 10 in Montfort, tel.nr. 0475-542061.
Open: at present only for groups on appointment with a guide, whole year round.
Montfort Castle Links
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