Several different forms of power have succeeded themselves on the present-day site of the Law Courts, perhaps since Antiquity, more certainly since the early Middle Ages. The name “Maubergeon”, which is still used to designate the medieval dungeon, derives from the Merovingian “mall-berg”, meaning a court of justice.
PAround the year 1000 a new palace is built on an artificial mound, against the Roman city wall, and completed around 1100 by the addition of a first tower. That ensemble, surrounded by a moat, is the first residence for the Counts of Poitou-Dukes of Aquitaine. The great hall was rebuilt by the Plantagenet family shortly before 1200. Known as the “Salle des pas perdus” (“hall of the lost steps”), it remains one of the most remarkable examples of civilian architecture in France.
From the 13th century onwards, the palace was less used as a residence and became essentially an administrative building. It was greatly transformed around 1380, under the patronage of Jean de Berry : the Tour Maubergeon was rebuilt, private apartments (now lost) were installed to the West, and a new gabled wall ended the great hall. This wall is opened with large windows above three monumental sculpted fireplaces. The structure stylistically announces the flamboyant Gothic style of the following century.
After the French Revolution, the former ducal palace is definitely converted into a Law Court, a new wing is added against the great hall and a classical façade were added, completing the original construction.
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