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The Castle of Chenonceau

The six women castle.

Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau

The current castle was built from 1513 to 1521 by Thomas Bohier, receiver of Finances under Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I.
The acquisition of Chenonceau by Bohier is a true Balzac drama.
The field is the property of the family of Marques whose dilapidations caused the ruin. The grounds are sold piece per piece. Bohier, who threw his reserved on Chenonceau, buys each one of these pieces. The lords of the manor feeling the cobweb which weaves itself around the castle, make efforts despaired to escape from it. After twenty years of fight, have 1512, they must be acknowledged overcome, Bohier repurchases the castle for 12 500 pounds and the fact of shaving, except the keep. As of the following year, on the Expensive one charming it building starts to rise that the tourist has today under the eyes.
Chenonceau present, consequently, in its history, an original feature: one could call it « the castle of the six women » pointing out the paramount role that its ladies of the manor played during 400 years.


Catherine Briçonnet, the bâtisseuse one (16th C.).

Bohier married Catherine Briçonnet, tourangelle belonging to a family of large financial. Very absorbed by its load and often following the armies in the Milanese, it cannot monitor work of Chenonceau. It is Catherine who is the heart.
One feels besides in the site chosen for the castle, in his distribution, a female influence and concerns of housewife. Thus, sour the first time, the parts is distributed on each side of a central hall, which facilitates the service largely. In the same way for this other innovation of Chenonceau: the staircase in right, more practical slope and adapted better to the receptions than the spiral staircase.
Bohier dies in 1524 and Catherine two years afterwards.
François 1st makes investigate the accounts of his treasurer. It is found that it is indebted with the Treasury strong sums. To pay this debt, his son gives up Chenonceau with the king then.


Diane de Poitiers, the always beautiful one.

Diane de Poitiers
Diane de Poitiers

In 1547, when Henri II goes up on the throne, it gives Chenonceau to Diane of Poitiers. She is 20 years old more than him, but its seduction is famous. « I saw it, writes a contemporary, in age the 70 years (in fact, she died in 67 years), also beautiful of face and so pleasant as in the 30 years age. And especially, it had a very large whiteness and without farder at all. But it is said well that every morning it used of some bubble and other drugs which I do not know « .
Widow of Louis de Brézé, it made him raise a splendid tomb in the cathedral of Rouen and always carries the colors of black and white mourning. Its empire on Henri II is such as it makes him adopt. Diane orders a beautiful garden and makes raise a bridge connecting the castle to other bank of Expensive. She finds abundant resources in the tax of 20 books per bell of which she receives a good share, which makes say to Rabelais the king hung all the bells of the kingdom to the collar of its mare.
The death of Henri II, killed in 1559 by the lance of Montgomery, during a tournament, places the favorite one opposite Catherine de Médicis become regent. The queen, patient and dissimulated, accepted the division, she will enjoy her revenge. Diane is very attached to Chenonceau and Catherine knows that, she strikes her at the point sensitive by obliging it to yielding to her in exchange of Chaumont. Death in the heart, the favorite one leaves the edges of Expensive, does nothing but pass to Chaumont and withdraws themselves with the castle of Anet where she dies seven years later.


Catherine de Médicis, the sumptuous one.

Catherine de Médicis
Portrait de Catherine de Médicis – château de Chenonceau.

With the taste of arts, Catherine de Médicis has the taste of ostentation and satisfied with Chenonceau one and the other. She makes trace a park, to build on the bridge a gallery on double floor, to establish vast commun runs.
Beautiful festivals follow one another and the contemporaries are filled with wonder some. There is that of the entry of François 1st and Marie Stuart, that of Charles IX who is even more brilliant. In the ditches which border the alley of the castle, of the young women dressed up as sirens accomodate the visitors. Their tuneful songs answer those of the nymphs which leave the thickets. But the arrival of the satyrs made fly away the gracious troop. Meal, dances, masquerades, fireworks, naval action on Expensive, nothing miss with these rejoicings.
Henri III chairs a pastoral feast which costs 100 000 most beautiful pounds and fact feeling « and honestes injuries of the naked court being half and having their scattered hair as married, were employed to make the service with the girls of the queen ».


Louise of Lorraine (end of 16th C.)

Catherine bequeathed Chenonceau to her daughter-in-law Louise of Lorraine, wife of Henri III. After the assassination of the king by Jacques Clement, Louise withdraws herself with the castle, takes mourning in white according to the royal label and keeps it until the end of her life, from where the name of « Queen or White Injury » who was given to her. Her room, her bed, the carpets and the chairs are tightened black velvet, the curtains of black Damas the ceilings carry crowns of spines and « cordelières » painted in white on black bottom. During eleven years, Louise, faithful to the marital memory, shares her time between the speech, the embroidery and the reading.


Mrs Dupin, the friend of the letters (18th C.).

After Louise of Lorraine, Chenonceau enters during one time of abandonment, until the moment when the general farmer Dupin becomes owner about it.
Mrs. Dupin holds a living room to with it where all the celebrities of the time ravel. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the tutor of her son. It is with the use of the latter that his treaty of education was made up: « Emile ». In his « Confessions », he speaks with heat about this happy time: « One had fun much in this beautiful place, one made very good expensive there, I y fatty soothsayers like a monk ».
Mrs. Dupin ages surrounded of the affection of the villagers, thanks to what the castle crossed the Revolution without damage. According to her wish, she was buried in the park.


Mrs Pelouze, the amatrice of old (19th C.).

In 1864, Mrs. Pelouze buys Chenonceau and fact of the restoration of the castle the business of her life. She restores it in the state where Bohier had left. Catherine de Médicis had modified the principal frontage by doubling the windows and while placing between them of the caryatids. The additional openings are stopped and the caryatids transported in the park. A building added between the vault and the bookshop is also removed.
The castle is currently the property of the Menier family.


The arrival to the castle

The arrival is done by a splendid alley of plane trees. The tourist who likes the plays of imagination will be able to revive the entry of Charles IX in the medium of the sirens, the nymphs and the satyrs. One sees, in withdrawal on the left, at the end of an alley, the old caryatids of the frontage. After having passed between two sphinges, one sees, on the right, the commun runs raised within Philihert Delorme.
Crossing a drawbridge, one arrives to a terrace surrounded of ditches. On left, the garden with Italian extends from Diane of Poitiers on the right, that of Catherine de Médicis, bordered by the large trees of the park. On the terrace draws up the keep of the old castle of Marques altered by Bohier. His initial here are read: « TBK » (Thomas Bohier and Katherine). One will find them in the castle with his currency « If it comes at the right moment, will remember ». The direction of this currency remains a little mysterious. One can understand that if the building is concluded, it will carry far the memory from that which built it.


The castle

the castle is composed of a rectangular main building with turrets with the angles. It sat on the two piles of the old mill which rest on the bed of Expensive. On left thre are, projecting, the bookshop and the vault. On the bridge of Expensive rises the gallery on two floors of Catherine de Médicis. This construction of Philibert Delorme is of an already traditional sobriety which contrasts with the aspect rich and merry that gives, the older part, sculptures of the balustrades, the roof and the attic windows.
At the ground floor, the old room of the Guards is paved the majoliques ones and decorated Flemish tapestries of 16th C. In the vault, we notices a fine Virgin with the Carrara marble Child (16th C.) ; the chambrede Diane of Poitiers preserves a fire place due to Jean Goujon; the Green cabinet of Catherine de Médicis, a tapestry of the workshops of the Loire and various tables. The large gallery on Expensive, the 60 meters long, at the black pavement and white presents, embedded in the medium of the ceiling, the old ceiling of the room of Louise of Lorraine. In the room of François Ier, paintings of Van Loo (Three Graces) are exposed, of Primatice (Diane of Poitiers as a huntress). Hall with triangulated ribbed vaults. Always at the ground floor one can see a living room, who has a splendid ceiling with the Frenchwoman, works of Rubens (Jesus and holy Jean), of Mignard, Nattier (Mrs. Dupin) and a portrait of Louis XIV within a sumptuous framework.
One reaches on the 1st floor by the staircase with right slope which, in France, was at the time an innovation. Hall, where are presented tapestries of Audenarde (scenes of hunting) and effigies of Roman emperors out of Carrara marble reported of Florence by Catherine de Médicis, one penetrates in the room of Gabrielle d’ Estrée, in the room of honor (or of the five Queens), in that of Catherine de Médicis and in the gallery who was her ballroom, then in the room of César de Vendôme, all furnished and decorated beautiful tapestries.
Under the roofs the small convent of the Nasturtiums was installed, with its drawbridge which was concerned the evening to separate the nuns from the hosts the castle.
To finish, do not forget to visit the park which will offer to you, of the edge of Expensive, of the very picturesque sights on the castle.

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