Chaumont, a fortress to inherit
The Count of Blois, Eudes I, ordered the construction of a fortress in the 10th century in order to protect the town of Blois from numerous attacks by the counts of Anjou. The château was then given as a gift to the knight Gelduin, after which it was passed on through marriage to the Amboise family for the next five hundred years.
Louis XI had the fortress of Chaumont burned to the ground in 1465 in order to punish Pierre of Amboise for having rebelled against the king during the 'Ligue du Bien Public (League for the Public Good).' However, his son Charles I d'Amboise undertook the reconstruction of the château from 1465 to 1475 by building the north wing (facing the Loire) which is no logner standing.
From 1498 to 1510, Charles II of Chaumont d’Amboise helped his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, to continue the reconstruction of the château in a style which was becoming increasingly marked by the Renaissance, all while maintaining its original fortified look.
Near the end of 1559, Catherine de’ Medici, who had been in possession of the château since 1550, forced her rival Diane de Poitiers (mistress of King Henri II) to exchange it with the Château of Chenonceau.
Following the death of Charlotte de la Marck (grand-daughter of Diane de Poitiers) in 1594, the destiny of the Château of Chaumont was full of changes. It became a joyous property for numerous owners: farmers, barons, lords of Ruffignac, Dukes of Beauvilliers, Dukes of Anjou…
Over the years, the château was bought, bequeathed, used to repay debt, and chosen to serve as a land of exile. It was used as a fortress, a factory, and a farm. Finally, restoration work was started by the Count of Aramon who acquired the château in 1834. After his death in 1847, the restoration was continued by Viscount Walsh.
In 1875, Marie Say and her husband, Amédée de Broglie (son of Albert de Broglie), gained ownership of the château. They had luxurious stables and a magnificent landscape garden that they added later on. The building of these sumptuous stables in 1877 was entrusted to the architect Paul-Ernest Sanson, who was also hired for the complete restoration of the château by the prince and princess de Broglie. The architect chose to use brick and stone for the entire construction.
The stables at Chaumont are representative of what the wealthy aristocrats at the end of the 19th century had built to house their horses. During this period, they were considered to be the most luxurious stables in Europe, and were equipped with electric-arc lighting (at the same time as the Opera Garnier and the City Hall of Paris).
For forty years, the château experienced a luxurious lifestyle during which the Broglie family gave numerous dazzling fêtes (celebrations) and receptions that could rival even that of royalty. Unfortunately, a turn of fortune forced the princess of Broglie to sell Chaumont to the state in 1938. It was then registered as a historical monument.
To find out more about the Château of Chaumont>>