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The first fortifications of Rocroi were constructed by Henri II in the 16th century. The French King had a pentagonal, bastionned wall built around the town. The decision to fortify Rocroi was made when the Emperor Charles V began the construction of Fort Charlemont at Givet.
In 1643, the Spanish attempted to invade France, laying siege to Rocroi with a large force. A relief force led by the young Duc d'Enghien (the future Prince Condé) met the Spanish forces just to the south of the town, where the French routed the Spanish at the Battle of Rocroi. In 1675, when Vauban visited Rocroi, he realigned the defences and added several outworks.
The town takes the shape of a near-regular pentagon, with five bastions and five demi-lunes. There are two entrances, the Porte de Bourgogne in the north-east between the Bastion du Roi and the Bastion de Petit-Fort, and the Porte de France in the south-west between the Bastion de Nevers and the Bastion de Montmorency.
As befits a town in the Pré Carré (second line), the fortifications of Rocroi are very strong, every curtain wall being protected by a false bray and a demi-lune. 3 of the five bastions are protected by counterguards.