The name of the castle, of Latin origin, and that is found in a few other monuments or cities of the South-West of France, is arguably meaning: “fortified mount” (mons adstructum), or also “mount under the stars”…
The valley of the little river “Caudeau”, at the foot of Montastruc, keeps numerous traces of human habitat from prehistory to the period of the Roman Empire.
Through the 5th century, the invasion by the Germans in 407, followed by the Visigoths’ and finally, by the annexation of Aquitaine to the kingdom of the Francs by Clovis (507), bring Montastruc into the High Middle-Age. These troubled times lead its inhabitants into the caves and galleries of its emerging rock, later fortified and isolated by deep moats.
Rise & Fall of the D’Abzac
La Monzia (La Moinerie) is mentioned into documents of the 13th century, under the protection of Montastruc, fief of the Castrum of Montclar. In 1309, Hugues 1st d’Abzac, lord of Clerans and knight for Montclar, is benefiting from a donation of assets in La Monzia, including the “domus” of Montastruc.
In 1329, his son Hugues 2nd d’Abzac fortifies Montastruc over its antique existing bases. Rudel 4th de Mouleydier, lord and baron of Montclar, allows the works to be done and gets a solemn homage as suzerain, in the chapel of Lamonzie. Montastruc and the d’Abzac become from that moment a permanent threat for Montclar and its barons.
In 1437, the “Reppayrium de Monte Astruco” is mentioned as fief of Bertrand d’Abzac. On the 14th of February 1439, Amaury d’Estissac, heir of the châtellenie of Montclar, donates to Bertrand d’Abzac all the rights of high, mid and low justice that he could have over Montastruc, under the condition of a symbolic homage of a pair of white gloves. But Bertrand d’Abzac, is made prisoner after his invasion of the city of Domme, is beheaded in Limoges on the 1st of March 1439 by order of Charles 7th and the demolition Montastruc, to the height of the infamy (“à hauteur de l’infamie”) is undertaken following the criminal trial started in 1438 – however the destruction will be only partial.
In 1449, Jean of Bretagne returns to Jeanne de Beynac, widow of Bertrand d’Abzac, the estate of Montastruc against submission to the Royal authority. The castle is restored from 1480, supported by royal decree (“Lettres patentes”) from Louis 11th dated September 1475.
XVIth – XVIIth Century
In 1568, on the day of Christmas, Blaise de Monluc, trusted by Catherine de Médicis to maintain order in Guyenne, starts the siege of Montastruc. Two cannons oblige the Huguenot troop to surrender. New siege by the seneschal of Périgord in 1569, who takes it from the Protestants, and returns it again to the d’Abzac.
In 1637, the second rebellion of the “croquants” (peasants), is led in the forests not far from Montastruc by La Mothe La Foret, Charles d’Abzac’s brother in law, and Grellety, farmer of Charles’ lands…
XVIIth – XXth Century
On the 26th of May 1650, the fortress walls of Montastruc see at their foot the defeat of the troop of Monsieur de La Valette, by the dukes of Bouillon and of La Rochefoucauld, while these were accompanying Madame the Princess of Condé and her son, the duke of Enghien to Bordeaux, during the last “grande fronde” (revolt of the nobles against the king).
Interestingly, the revolution period does not affect Montastruc. More recently, in May 1940, HRH the grand duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and her family exiled themselves in the chateau de Montastruc, ex-filtrated from Luxembourg in extremis by France before the arrival of the German troops. They remained there for a few months under the protection of a section of Senegalese riflemen, before gaining Portugal… On June 16th 1940, they were joined in Montastruc by the last empress-queen of Austria-Hungary Zita, sister of Felix of Bourbon- Parma, husband of Charlotte of Luxembourg. On her way to exile towards Portugal via Bordeaux and Spain, Zita transited through Montastruc with her 8 children of which her elder son Otto of Habsburg, archduke of Austria.
Fief of the d’Abzac since the 13th century, Montastruc changes hands through alliances and goes to the Ferrand de Mauvezin, the Peruse des Cars, the du Garrich d’Uzech, and then in 1849, goes to the marquis de Lostanges de Saint-Alvere followed by the Loeff in 1936. After the last war, it is owned by the Ordonneau family, and then changes hands briefly before coming in 1998 to Philippe Raynaud de Fitte and his wife Ségolène de Marcellus. This is the beginning of an extensive and meticulous restoration work.
Ségolène de Marcellus is of direct descent from Marie-Louis Andre Charles (alias Lodoïs) de Martin du Tyrac, 4th count of Marcellus (1795-1861), who after difficult and animated negotiations, purchased the statue known today as Venus de Milo, and brought it back to France where it was offered on March 1st 1821 to the king Louis XVIII who donated the statue to the Louvre.