1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Loches
LOCHES, a town in France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Indre-et-Loire, 29 m. S.E. of Tours by rail, on the left bank of the Indre. Pop. (1906) 3751. The town, one of the most picturesque in central France, lies at the foot of the rocky eminence on which stands the castle of the Anjou family, surrounded by an outer wall 11 m. in circumference, and consisting of the old collegiate church of St Ours, the royal lodge and the donjon. The church of St Ours dates from the 10th to the 12th centuries; among its distinguishing features are the huge stone pyramids surmounting the nave and the beautiful carving of the west door. The royal lodge, built by Charles VII. and used as the subprefecture, contains the tomb of Agnes Sorel and the oratory of Anne of Brittany. The donjon includes, besides the ruined keep (12th century), the Martelet, celebrated as the prison of Lodovico Sforza, duke of Milan, who died there in 1508, and the Tour Ronde, built by Louis XI. and containing the famous iron cages in which state prisoners, including—according to a story now discredited—their inventor Cardinal Balue, were confined. Loches has an hôtel-de-ville and several houses of the Renaissance period. It has a tribunal of first instance, a communal college and a training college. Liqueur-distilling and tanning are carried on together with trade in farm-produce, wine, wood and live-stock.
On the right bank of the Loire, opposite the town and practically its suburb, is the village of Beaulieu-lès-Loches, once the seat of a barony. Besides the parish church of St Laurent, a beautiful specimen of 12th-century architecture, it contains the remains of the great abbey church of the Holy Sepulchre founded in the 11th century by Fulk Nerra, count of Anjou, who is buried in the chancel. This chancel, which with one of the older transepts now constitutes the church, dates from the 15th century. The Romanesque nave is in ruins, but of the two towers one survives intact; it is square, crowned with an octagonal steeple of stone, and is one of the finest extant monuments of Romanesque architecture.
Loches (the Roman Leucae) grew up round a monastery founded about 500 by St Ours and belonged to the counts of Anjou from 886 till 1205. In the latter year it was seized from King John of England by Philip Augustus, and from the middle of the 13th century till after the time of Charles IX. the castle was a residence of the kings of France.