Vaussieux Castle

The Vaussieux’s castle is located less than 10 minutes from the town of Bayeux in the commune of Vaux-sur-Seulles in the department of Calvados, in the region of Normandy.

Rich in history, the castle of Vaussieux has much to teach us about the late 18th century and important activities in the whole of the Bessin Normand. Two ancient strongholds existed before its construction, archaeological excavations having confirmed this.

Since its construction in 1771 by the Marquis de Héricy, it has been occupied by several owners with different activities; from a children’s vacation camp, to a sultan’s harem, to a rock music video shooting location, etc…

The owner of the estate, who died in 1995, had his mausoleum built at the back of the Château. Following his death, his will bequeathed the house to the “Association du Château de Vaussieux“, which respected the 10 years of mourning of the domain.
Thereafter, she allowed with the association Un Nouveau Monde the realization of the first edition of the Camp de Vaussieux in 2018.
Due to lack of funds and not being able to maintain it properly, the castle association donated the estate to an Israelite cultural association in 2019, as stipulated in the will of its predecessor. Subsequently, it was sold to a young couple in 2021.

From now on, the current owners wish to accompany the passing on of the rich history of this place and to ensure its future.
Renovation and development work is underway, including in particular the preservation of the old mill (on the left of the photo below).

The castle of Vaussieux (center) and its old mill (left). [2022]

Its French military importance

In August 1778, Louis XVI assembled an army of 30,000 soldiers in Normandy, which at the time represented the entire population of Caen and Bayeux combined.

Under the command of Marshal de Broglie, the infantry, the cavalry and the artillerymen settled on the right bank of the Seulles river, more particularly on the territories of Vaux, Vaussieux, Esquay, Brécy, Saint Gabriel, etc… that is to say on a distance of approximately 4,5 kilometers.

The Château de Vaussieux, made available by its owner, the Marquis d’Héricy, became the headquarters of the camp, hence the name “Camp de Vaussieux“.

Separated into two opposing armies, one commanded by Marshal de Broglie and the other by Count de Rochambeau and Baron Luckner, the soldiers maneuvered to compare two combat tactics in vogue in Europe at the time: thin order and deep order.
More than 70 trainings continued for 1 to 2 months depending on the arrival and departure of the men.

Photo taken at the Vaussieux Camp reenactment event [2019].

However, the real military objective of this gathering is quite different and takes place against the backdrop of the American War of Independence.

For more than two years, George Washington’s troops have been fighting for their freedom against the English army. They suffered many setbacks, mainly due to the lack of training of their men.

To help them in the conflict, Louis XVI ordered this gathering. The king wanted to make the English fear a possible landing on their coast. The strategy was to keep a large part of the English army away from the New World theater of operations. This diversion is intended to reduce the “military pressure” on Washington’s army.

Moreover, France had to commit itself militarily, having already declared war on England in March 1778. Several regiments present in Vaussieux left for America with the Count of Rochambeau in 1780 and contributed to the victory of Yorktown which allowed the United States to gain independence.

Photo taken at the Vaussieux Camp reenactment event [Becot, 2018].

The American War of Independence

The colonial empire of England, following the Seven Years War, increased their taxes over the years with various tax reforms since 1763. This increasingly damaged relations with the colonists of the new world, in North America.

Tensions and diplomatic mishaps became more and more important, with anger rising among a large part of the population at the refusal of King George III of England to take the word of the colonies into account. This turned into an open war between the independentists and the royalists.

It was on July 4, 1776 that the thirteen North American colonies officially entered into rebellion against Great Britain in order to obtain their sovereignty and that the Declaration of Independence was ratified.

Map of the thirteen colonies, 1775. [Creative commons license]
photo_2022-05-21_09-00-39 - Copie
Dress of an independence militiaman made by Historiae Collegium. The militia was made up of the civilian population that had enlisted to complete the continental army of the 13 colonies.

Led by the General George Washington, the beginnings were very difficult for the independentists who lost many battles. However, their determination enabled them to turn the tide thanks to the battle of Trenton in 1776 and the battle of Saratoga in 1777. This put the British army at a disadvantage, fighting far from home and facing new pressures from Europe.

France, under the reign of King Louis XVI, entered the conflict wishing to take its revenge following the Seven Years’ War and encouraged by the involvement of the Marquis De La Fayette towards the American patriots.

The battle of Yortown in 1781 was the great battle of this conflict and the defeat of the British army. The general Cornwallis retreated to Virginia thinking he could receive reinforcements, but he was surrounded by the American army and the support of the French army. The blockade by land and sea and the constant artillery fire forced the surrender of the royalists.

This led to the Treaty of Paris in 1783 which recognized the independence of the United States by Great Britain.

Reddition du Britannique Cornwallis après la bataille de Yorktown, 1781.

Now that you know the basics of this historic and little-known event, come and learn more and LIVE IT through our various events: Journey to a Summer in the 18th Century.

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