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The castle of Saumur

Castle of Saumur
Castle of Saumur

The castle of Saumur is built on a height which orders the Loire Valley. Saumur is in the beginning a strengthened site. A main tower of square plan occupied the slope at the 11th century. There remains of this first construction, the bottom grade which correspond to the arched room located under the court, and a face integrated in the frontage of the body of building located on the right of the entry. At the 13th century, one builds around this « keep » a square, confined enclosure of four round towers of which the lower part still exists and is quite visible.
In second half of the 14th century, Louis 1st of Anjou, brother of Charles V and Jean de Berry, transforms this medieval fortress into a more elegant castle. The castle of Saumur, at that time, was eternalized by the book of hours of the «Très riches heures du duc de Berry» (« Very rich hours of the duke of Berry »).
This painting, which illustrates September, represents a scene of grape harvest, and in the second plan, the castle of Saumur. We can thus make us a precise idea of the state of the building in XVème century. One can see all the high parts of the castle cutting out on a blue sky in a sumptuous crowning: notched parapets, roofs, chimneys, attic windows, wind vanes with the flowers of lily gilded.
All these ornaments disappeared today. The covered ways were covered, and this modification made disappear crenellations from the parapets.

Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry
Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry

However, while entering the court of the castle, one can still include/understand the luxury of the residence of the duke of Anjou. Louis 1st makes destroy the square tower which throne in the center of the court to create space. This gesture is an innovator if one thinks that the practice to preserve the keep near the new castle is prolonged until the 16 th century: it should be waited until 1528 so that François ler decides to destroy the circular old tower who encumbers the Louvre.
But the motivation of Louis 1st of Anjou is to make more comfortable its residence. It makes, consequently, increase the main building located at the bottom of the court, while making build galleries on several levels which rest on arcades open to the ground floor. These galleries serve the home and facilitate circulation.
At the bottom of the court, is a staircase out of screw, slightly except work, open in loggias and decorated with niches with platform intended to receive statues. This staircase led to a room of the left wing which does not exist nowadays any more.
Saumur presents a relationship with the Louvre of Charles V where is a similar staircase.
The great period of the castle of Saumur ends to dead of Rene of Anjou in 1480. It is on this date, under Louis XI, that the castle of Saumur enters the royal field.
With the end of 16th, time to which the castle of Saumur becomes again fortress, and at the 17th century, the town of Saumur reaches its apogee. It is one of the large hearths of Protestantism. Henri III gives it like places safety at king de Navarre. The future Henri IV installs there as governor Duplessis-Mornay, large soldier, large well-read man and reformed enthusiast. This one, that the catholics call it. pope of Huguenots. melts in the city a Protestant Academy which acquires a great reputation. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) carries a fatal blow to Saumur good number of the inhabitants are expatrient. Although the school of cavalry and the trade of the wines gave again activity at the city, it counts more 7000 inhabitants of less than at the 17th century.
Today the castle shelters, in the old apartments of the Dukes of Anjou, a collection of decorative arts and, under the roofs with the vaults in the shape of hull of ship, a museum of the horse devoted to harnessing throughout the world, of antiquity at our days.


Museum of decorative Arts

Formed partly by the Lair collection, it presents a beautiful whole of works of art of the Average Age and Renaissance: enamels of Limoges, woodcarvings and alabaster, tapestries, pieces of furniture, paintings, ornaments liturgical and an important earthenware collection and French tender porcelains of 17th and 18th C. among pieces of furniture and tapestries of the same time. Among the tapestries of the 15th and 16th C. formerly exposed in the church Our Injury of Nantilly, to notice the Ball of the Savages, the Return of hunting, the Sacring of Vespasien and the Catch of Jerusalem; the two last form part of hanging of the History of Titus.


Horse Museum

It evokes the history of the horse through the ages and the countries. Particularly to notice the collections of saddles, bit, clamps, spurs and a beautiful series of engravings. Top of the tower of Guet, one can admire a beautiful panorama on the city, the Loire Valley and Thouet.


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