At an important crossing place on the Meuse, situated between France and the Spanish Netherlands, Sedan has been a strategic fortress for many years. A castle was built there in the 15th century. The La Marck family, holding the title of Duc de Bouillon and Prince of Sedan, ruled over their own small country here until Sedan came under the control of France in 1642.

Early fortifications of Sedan

In 1535, some crude fortifications were built around the town and the castle was modified by the construction of some large rounded artillery towers, which despite being capable of mounting impressive firepower, were weak due to their pour fields of fire.

In the mid 16th century, four irregular bastions were constructed around the castle, forming a citadel.

In 1584, protestant engineer Jean Errard fled to the principality of Sedan when his previous employer, the Duc de Lorraine, joined the Catholic League. He was taken on as Chief Engineer of the Prince of Sedan, and began to work on the fortifications in 1585.

Sedan, probably in the early 17th century.

Sedan is one of the few places known to have been fortified by Errard, who was more famous for his theoretical contribution to fortification than his pratical work. He was involved in updating the defences of the citadel and possibly in improving the trace of the town's defences.

The bastioned castle of Sedan.

In 1642, Sedan became part of France, and the castle lost its status as a residence. The fortifications of Sedan were improved by Vauban, who appears to have strengthened the hornworks and the covered way.

Visiting Sedan

Today, little or nothing remains of the bastioned fortification around Sedan, save for the castle, with its trace of four irregular bastions, one of which was partially destroyed by experiments with dynamite in 1873.

Vauban's fortifications at Sedan.

The castle of Sedan can be visited, with a gift shop and guided tour available. The castle is quite a walk from the train station though.

Condition Access to fortifications Size of fortress Accessability of town Museum/Info Overall score
5 8 4 6 8 6.2
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