The oldest parts of the castle have not been definitively dated, but the first written record of the castle is in 1160 or 1005. From the mid 12th century, the castle was home to the Counts of Savoy, and it was greatly expanded in the 13th century by Pietro II. The Castle was never taken in a siege, but did change hands through treaties.
It was made popular by Lord Byron, who wrote the poem The Prisoner Of Chillon (1816) about François de Bonivard, a Genevois monk and politician who was imprisoned there from 1530 to 1536; Byron also carved his name on a pillar of the dungeon. The castle is one of the settings in Henry James's novella Daisy Miller (1878).
The history of Chillon was influenced by three major periods: the Savoy Period, the Bernese Period, and the Vaudois Period.