Of course, the estate already had a long history before Montesquieu. It was first mentioned in 1079 when the lord of La Brède fought a duel with a man named Hernandes who was the champion of the army of Navarre. At the time, the building would have been a fortified wooden structure built on an artificial mound of earth, in the center of a dugout moat.
Two centuries later, the wooden structure burned down, and in 1306 construction began on a much sturdier, stone Gothic-style castle. It was at this time that the builders created a large square courtyard, connected to the castle but surrounded by the moat. In the late 16th century, more improvements were made to what had become an elegant country home. Three drawbridges remained, but from this point, the edifice itself remain largely unchanged. The interior, naturally, changed with the times. Rooms were decorated with ornate, intricately carved walnut panelling painted in dark colours and stone fireplaces painted with floral motifs and landscapes. The medieval hall was converted into the library. While each generation added artwork and beautiful furnishings, there was an conscious effort to maintain Montesquieu’s connection to the estate.