Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
Located on one of the îles de Frioul, a little more than a kilometer off the city of Marseille, the Château d’If is an imposing fortress and notorious prison. The fortress, completed in 1531, was built by order of King François I, ostensibly to protect the city and its important port, but to many Marseillais, jealous of their independence and privileges, it is seen as an instrument of royal oppression.
Because of its isolated location and natural defenses – high cliffs and dangerous currents surround the tiny island – the fortress serves as an ideal prison. Many Huguenots were incarcerated in the fortress during and after the Wars of Religion. Wealthy prisoners may enjoy comfortable if spare cells, but the poorest are locked away in the lightless dungeons beneath the chateau.