The Ghost of the Green Lady Haunts this Spectacular French Chateau

Helen Flatley
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Photo by Manfred Heyde CC BY-SA 3.0

The famous Château de Brissac, an impressive example of Renaissance French architecture in France’s Loire Valley, attracts thousands of visitors every year. However, there is one frightening resident of the castle that few tourists wish to see.

According to local rumor, the castle is haunted by the ghost of Charlotte de Brézé, a beautiful young woman who was brutally murdered by her husband in the 15th century.

Today, many local residents believe that she still occupies the iconic chapel tower, tormenting the castle’s residents and visitors. Her mutilated corpse is reported to be a horrifying sight.

Château de Brissac by Octave de Rochebrune (1888).

According to Le Figaro, the Château de Brissac is one of the Loire region’s most impressive treasures. Originally built as a fortress in the 11th century by the dukes of Anjou, it was later pulled down and rebuilt in a decadent Renaissance style by the new royal favorite Charles II de Cossé, the first Duke of Brissac.

The result was an enormous fairytale castle that dominated the region and added considerable prestige to the reputations of Charles and his descendants.

East and north elevations. Photo by Wladyslaw Sojka CC BY-SA 3.0

However, despite these expensive 17th century renovations, the castle still guards many secrets from its medieval past. Just 150 years before Charles took possession of the estate, it had been the site of a shocking and grisly double murder that left a permanent stain on the castle’s history.

In 1462, the castle was in the possession of Jacques de Brézé, seneschal of Normandy and a favored noble in the court of King Charles VII. The king decided for his illegitimate daughter Charlotte, the product of his infamous union with the courtesan Agnes Sorel, to marry Jacques de Brézé, in recognition of his loyal service. According to royal historian Kathleen Wellman, despite the circumstances of Charlotte’s birth, she was a particular favorite of both the king and the queen, Marie of Anjou. The match was regarded as politically expedient for all concerned.

East elevation. Photo by Manfred Heyde CC BY-SA 3.0

Unfortunately, this arranged marriage was not successful. Charlotte had sophisticated tastes and was used to life at court. A drafty castle in the countryside didn’t suit her, and she immediately took a dislike to the boorish character of her husband. He spent long days in the countryside, hunting and tending to his estates, and had little time for the refined, courtly pleasures that Charlotte was accustomed to.

Before long, according to local rumor, she had embarked upon an affair with a man named Pierre de Lavergne. Pierre was a huntsman in the retinue of her husband and is reported to have been handsome and cultivated. He lavished attention and affection on the unhappy Charlotte, and they soon became entangled in a passionate love affair.

Château de Brissac.

One night, after a long day of hunting and feasting, Jacques returned to the castle only to find his wife in bed with her lover. In a fit of rage, he killed them both. The precise circumstances of their deaths are the subject of some speculation. Some sources report that he dealt 100 blows to each of them with his hunting axe, while others suggest that he killed Pierre immediately and then strangled his unfortunate wife. Their bodies were never recovered.

This was not the end, however, to Jacques’ misery. According to the story, he moved away from the castle soon after Charlotte’s death, apparently plagued by the incessant wailing of her ghost that haunted the castle.

South elevation. Photo by Manfred Heyde CC BY-SA 3.0

The ghost of Charlotte de Brézé has reportedly remained in the tower of the castle chapel ever since the fateful night of her murder. While the spirit of her lover appears to have moved on rather quickly, Charlotte herself has haunted the rooms of the castle for centuries, striking fear into the hearts of visitors.

According to ghost-hunter Wesley McDermont, she is often seen floating through the castle wearing a green dress, earning her the nickname of the ‘Green Lady’. Her face is a shocking and ugly sight to behold, with large gaping holes in place of her eyes.

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Unless her restless spirit is avenged, the unhappy ghost of Charlotte de Brézé appears destined to remain in the Château de Brissac, wailing in a high-pitched voice, lamenting the death of her lover and cursing her murderous husband.