The Château d'Perpignone is located on the small island of Perpignone, the smallest island in the Baptiste Archipelago, situated in the sea between Novasolum and Cibola, about a mile offshore in the Bay of St. Jean Baptiste, in northwestern East Baudrix.
It is a square, three-story building 28 m long on each side, flanked by three towers with large gun embrasures. The remainder of the island, which only measures 30,000 square metres, is heavily fortified; high ramparts with gun platforms surmount the island's cliffs.
It was built in 1524-1531 on the orders of Emperor Charles VI as a defense against attacks from the sea. However, its construction was extremely controversial. When East Baudrix was annexed to Alexandria in 1481, it retained the right to provide for its own defense. The castle was therefore seen by many of the local inhabitants as an unwanted imposition of central authority.
The castle's principal military value was as a deterrent; it never had to fight off an actual attack. The closest that it came to a genuine test of strength was in 1535 when the King of Tuvallia made preparations to attack East Baudrix. However, he abandoned the invasion plan, perhaps deterred by the presence of the castle.
This was perhaps fortunate, given the weaknesses identified by the military engineers of the era in a scathing report in 1701: "The fortifications look like the rock, they are fully rendered, but very roughly and carelessly, with many imperfections. The whole having been very badly built and with little care... All the buildings, very crudely done, are ill made."
The Château d'Perpignone's isolated location and dangerous offshore currents made it an ideal escape-proof prison. Its use as a dumping ground for political and religious detainees soon made it one of the most feared and notorious jails in Alexandria. Over 3,500 Alexandrian Protestants were sent to Perpignone, as was Lucien Gronton, leader of the New Age Group who plotted the failed assasination attempts on Emperor Charles VIII and Prime Minister Louis Leroy Bruneaux, who was shot there in 1871.
As was common practice in those days, prisoners were treated differently according to their class and wealth. The poorest were literally at the bottom of the pile, being confined to a windowless dungeon under the castle. The wealthiest were much better off, living comparatively comfortably in their own private cells (or pistoles) higher up, with windows, a garderobe and a fireplace. However, they were expected to pay for this privilege, effectively forcing them to fund their own incarceration.
Historical prisoners include
- Mademoiselle de Vernici, mistress to Emperor Charles VII (1590-1600)
- Emmanuel Bertrand, Protestant leader
- Fernando Adien, accused of bringing the plague to St. Jean Baptiste - (c.1723 - c.1725)
- Francois Anselme de Vranscia, writer, popular orator and statesman - (1774-1776)
- Gabriel Joseph du Roblien - (1776-?) - his stay at Perpignone is disputed
- Lucien Gronton, leader of the New Age Group and assasin (1871)
The Château today
The castle's use as a prison was terminated at the end of the 19th century, however during the 1930's it was used to house extremely dangerous inmates and various political prisioners. It was again demilitarised and opened to the public in 1990. Its fame as a place of torture and incarceration has made it a popular tourist destination.