Blois Castle (France)

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While Chambord is one of the most beautiful and great monuments of France, the Royal Castle of Blois is one of the royal residences that have marked the history and art, everyday place the Court in the Renaissance. The building is located in the Loir-et-Cher in Loire Valley Region, and in the Loire Valley.

The castle has the distinction of being urban, there is in other words located in the center of the city of Blois, on the banks of the Loire and in the heart of the Valley of the Kings.

In addition to being a royal residence, it also has a selection of architecture and French art, including being labeled Museum of France. History, architecture, and visits ... here's the perfect example of the art and history of the Loire castles.

The Royal Castle of Blois has hosted many families, like stately royal, even from the Middle Ages to modern times. The first appearance of the castle in history remains the Blisum castrum, old castle, which was built on the banks of the Loire during the reign of Charles the Bald in 854. This wooden castle was unfortunately attacked and destroyed by the Vikings. It will then wait for the tenth century to see arise the first fortress.

The counts of Blois in the Middle Ages

Castle of Blois was originally a residence of the counts, which have in particular been appointed by the Emperor of time, Louis the Pious, and of heredity. These powerful feudal lords of the tenth and eleventh century owned land Blois and Chartres up to the Champagne, their home eventually being that of Blois-Champagne until the thirteenth century. Thibaud the Cheater I said, son of Thibaud the Old Viscount Tours and Count of Blois, was the first to Blois built the first fortress in the tenth century. Indeed, following its acquisition attempts counties of Chartres, and Dunois same Anjou, he began to build fortresses where he was victorious and built in Blois a "big turn". Fortifications with towers and high walls surrounded a house then, chapels and dining States and another large number of buildings.

Having always different with the kings of France, the counts of Blois still face afterwards the crown. Louis de Blois allied indeed to Richard the Lionheart to fight Philip Augustus, his uncle, the brother of his mother Alix of France. Louis de Blois was also one of the leaders of the Fourth Crusade, and he participated in the Capture of Constantinople in 1204. However, death in the Holy Land in 1205, his son Thibaud VI was the last count of Blois home Blois- Champagne. It is the latter that is the origin of the hall, the Salle des Etats, in 1214. At his death, Blois county is in the hands of the House of Châtillon-sur-Seine, and loses weight on political influence in the crown.

Châtillon family is still the source of many religious establishments in Blois. The Franciscan convent in 1256, the monastery of Chouzy Guiche in 1271, or the convent of the Jacobins in 1273. The house of Châtillon losing its last heir to the fourteenth century, Guy II - the last count of home - decided to give County Blois to Louis of France, Duke of Touraine and founder of the important house of Orleans.

Dukes of Orleans: the first princes of Blois

The Dukes of Orleans were the first prince who lived at Blois. Castle of Blois was even their favorite residence for almost a century. Bought in 1391 by Louis d'Orleans, brother of Charles VI, Blois becomes the property of the Dukes of Orleans officially in 1397 with the death of Guy II. Murdered in Paris in 1407 by his rival John fearless dukes of Burgundy, Louis I Duke of Orleans and gives the county of Blois to his son Charles of Orleans, becoming head of French feudalism. Only war is always present between Orleans and Burgundy, the English took the opportunity to return to France, beat the French knights at Agincourt and make prisoner Charles d'Orléans, taken to England. For 25 years, it will be in captivity in London, where he wrote his famous poetic works.

Revenue in 1440 in France, he thanked his half-brother Jean, Bastard of Orleans illegitimate son of Louis, who defended the possessions of the county of Blois, offering him the county of Dunois. Jean d'Orléans, the "bastard", has also been the companion of Joan of Arc during the liberation of Orleans. Before leaving for this battle, it has also been blessed in the Blois castle chapel by the Archbishop of Reims Renault Chartres, who will consecrate King Charles VII later.

On his return to Blois, Charles of Orleans has also decided to make the castle a French cultural center, making his court the appointment of all the poets of the time. François Villon, the most famous poet of the Middle Ages, there has also lived 1457 to 1458. He even won them a competition launched by Charles d'Orleans with his Ballad Contest Blois.

royal residence during the Renaissance

June 27, 1462, Charles d'Orléans has a son, Louis. On the death of Charles in 1465, he became Duke of Orleans, Count of Blois as the Louis II. King Louis XI decided strategically to compel Louis II of Orleans to marry his daughter Jeanne of France, marriage being celebrated in 1476, that the Orleans branch is out and it does not become a political rival the future. On the death of Louis XI, it does not seem to get the regency entrusted to Anne de Beaujeu, his cousin Charles VIII becomes king of France. But the latter died accidentally in 1498, childless heir. Louis II, now Louis XII, becomes King of France, and cancels his first marriage by Pope Alexander VI. Castle of the Counts of Blois becomes royal residence and Louis made his principal residence elsewhere. He moved there with his new wife since 1499, Anne of Brittany, who was already queen and wife of Charles VIII, and undertaking a major reconstruction of the castle, including a new wing that now bears his name. Under the reign of Louis XII, the Royal Castle of Blois became the meeting place between the king and many nobles (Cesare Borgia, Philip of Austria, or Machiavelli). The castle then sees in 1514 the death of Anne of Brittany, his funeral was celebrated at the Saint-Sauveur collegiate Blois, near the castle.

The daughter of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany Claude of France, wife then in 1514 his cousin Francis of Angouleme, great-grand-son of Louis of Orleans. The couple became the royal couple from France, François d'Angoulême took the name of ... Francis, considered the emblematic monarch of the period of the French Renaissance. The latter, with his wife, have every intention of leaving Amboise and Touraine to settle in Blois and the Sologne. The queen decided to refurnish the Royal Castle of Blois to house the Court. Francis decides him to build two new wings, including the wing Renaissance François I, who host a large collection of books for the time and a monumental staircase. It was also at this time that he decided to build the Chambord castle on a hunting field then acquired by Louis XII.

Claude of France died in 1524 at the castle, Francis stopped construction and moved to Fontainebleau. However, their 7 children remain in Blois, which then becomes the place where the royal children are educated. The descendant of Francis I, Henry II is crowned King of France in 1547 and entered in Blois in August of the same year. It is already married to Catherine de Medici from 1533 became thereby also queen. In 1550, it is built for new work in the house "new" wing Francis today, and Catherine de Medici are represented Sophonisbe the tragedy in 1556, first play to meet the classic rule of the three units.

On the death of Henry II in 1559, his successors son Francis II and Charles IX keeps the Chateau de Blois as the main royal residence, Catherine de Medici always the Queen Mother and having a penchant for Blois. In 1572, a treaty with England during the Wars of Religion is signed there, and the marriage between Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV) and Marguerite of France, daughter of Henri II and Catherine de Medici, there is also celebrated . Henry III, the last king of the dynasty of Valois and brother of the two previous kings, takes her place of King of France in 1574. It was he who convened the Estates General in 1576 the great Blois Castle room called today ' hui the Salle des Etats. In 1588 and 1589, he summoned new, and there is particular killing in his room on the second floor 23 December 1588 his enemy the Duke of Guise, the brother of the latter, and the Cardinal of Lorraine. A few days later, the queen mother Catherine de Medici comes to die on 5-January 1589. The Royal Castle of Blois thus seen to that time the highest point of historical interest, having seen heavy gore and death many kings during the War of religions.

During the Old Regime

Eight months after the murder of the Duke of Guise Jacques Clément kills King Henry III of his dagger. His brother Francis of France died in 1584, the only heir remains the man with whom his sister Marguerite of France was married Henri de Navarre. Henry became King of France, the first of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty. Blois loses its privileged status of residence of the royal court. The castle, however, sees Henry staying there twice, in 1589 and 1598-1599. He decided also to build a large gallery in the gardens, two hundred meters long, between 1598 and 1602, but this will always be unfinished. In 1600, he canceled his marriage with Margaret and married Marie de Medici. The latter, a widow in 1610, will ensure the Regency Crown on behalf of his son Louis XIII until 1614.

Nevertheless, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were the time of exile in the castle of Blois. Queen Marie de Medici, as the Duke Gaston of Orleans, but the queen of Poland Maria Casimire are occupied much of their time in captivity. Marie de Medici, widow of Henry IV, has indeed been exiled by her son at Blois castle because of conflicts of interest. The queen castle built in a northwest corner flag, with an inscription in memory retains in the basement of the wing Mansart. Legend has it that Marie de Medici had fled the castle in 1619, by a window, with the help of the Duke of Epernon, via a rope ladder. This episode has inspired Rubens actually a famous picture painted for the Luxembourg Palace and now on display at the Louvre.

Louis XIII offering in 1626 the county of Blois to his brother Gaston d'Orléans as a wedding gift. Installing them in 1634 after having conspired against his brother and being chased by the Court, Gaston had always attached great importance to the castle. There has also undertaken work, arrested in 1638 for lack of money, because it is no longer the heir to the kingdom since the birth of Louis Dieudonné. The Sun King, Louis XIV, succeeded his father in 1643. Gaston d'Orléans then returned to Blois, exiled again from 1652 to 1653, during the famous Fronde war of Lorraine, between the kingdom of France to that of Spain. However, he meets there a large collection, but died in 1660 in the Castle of Blois unfinished, bequeathing to his nephew Louis XIV moved all its collections in the garden of the gallery, and marking the abandonment of the castle of Blois. Even if the county of Blois and Orleans are back to the Crown, Louis XIV carried no interest during his reign the castle of Blois. He even launched a project of destruction of the castle in 1788, although at that time, many artists like John Fonte of Claude Perrault or visited there. The War Department proposing to install a regiment, the castle was occupied by the Royal Comtois, Cavalry regiment, which became in 1791 the 73rd Line Infantry Regiment.

The Revolution after

During the revolution in 1789, the castle was abandoned for almost 130 years after the death of Gaston d'Orléans. The revolutionaries wanting to remove all memory of royalty, loot the castle and empty of its furniture, statues and other artwork. The Saint-Sauveur college is acquired even then destroyed by Guillon contractor. The state of the Royal Castle of Blois become so pathetic that its destruction will be thinking. But Napoleon decided to sell it to the city of Blois in 1810. For lack of money, the castle is again used as a barracks by the army.

From 1788 to 1867, the castle is well occupied by the military. This caused many damages in the building, but also saved the royal monument. The François I wing will thus be open to the public during the Restoration, which allowed new artists such as Victor Hugo, Balzac, Alexandre Dumas or to visit. Prosper Mérimée, historian, writer and French archaeologist, Inspector General of Historical Monuments in 1834, decided to classify the Chateau de Blois historical monuments under Louis Philippe in 1841. He gets on the restoration of the royal castle in July 1844 particularly by Felix Dauban Jules La Morandière and Louis de la Saussaye. It will be transformed into a museum in 1850 when Pierre-Stanislas Maigreau Blau decided to found the famous Museum of Fine Arts of Blois, located in the François I wing, but then opened in the wing Louis XII in 1869. according to him, despite the fact that nothing remains of the kings of France collections at the Castle of Blois, the place must still be a place of historical and artistic importance in France. Since, the Royal Castle of Blois host numerous works of repair or restoration, as to the year 1920 when Goubert built a monumental stone staircase as sketches by Mansart at the Gaston d'Orléans wing, restored too.

Since then, the castle belongs to the city of Blois, and a sound and light was created in the 1990s in order to live the castle, in addition to increasing visits.

Images of the castle


Useful infos

Latitude: 47.5853918
Longitude: 1.3305829
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Map of Blois Castle