Les Clées and the castle
21 October 2021
The founding date of Les Clées (canton of Vaud) is unknown. The place was already mentioned in 814. The bridge was mentioned in 1050. The first fortress was built and then destroyed before 1137 when Pope Innocent II (pope from 1122-1143) prohibited the rebuilding of the destroyed fortress for a time to sanction unlawful tolls on merchants and pilgrims.
The appropriation of the profits from this road between Italian Lombardy and the Champagne fairs enriched the Counts of Burgundy from the 11th century onwards and the Lords of Savoy from the mid-13th century until the Burgundian Wars (1474-1477).
The importance of this toll passage is evident from the account books: Flemish woollen cloth and other textiles, dyes, cereals, sugar, paper, horses, falcons, spices and other luxury goods appear in the books. The toll of Les Clées, Villeneuve (canton of Vaud), and its castle assured the Duke of Savoy of Vaud’s most significant tax revenues.
For Les Clées and its castle, the Burgundian War between the Swiss cantons and the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold (1433-1477) marked the end of the golden age.
The Swiss burned down the castle in 1475. In 1536, Bern annexed Vaud, and nothing was ever the same for the once prosperous little town, which today has only 90 inhabitants.