The Château de Chaumont is a French castle at Chaumont-sur-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, France.
The first château-fort on this site between Blois and Amboise was a primitive fortress built by Eudes II, Count of Blois, in the 10th century with the purpose of protecting Blois from attacks from his feudal rivals, the counts of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, the château passed into the family of Amboise for five centuries. The castle was burned to the ground in 1465 in accordance with Louis XI's orders and was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance.
The Château de Chaumont was purchased by Catherine de Medici in 1560, a year after her late husband Henry II's death. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. In 1559 she forced Diane de Poitiers, her late husband's long-term mistress, to exchange the Château de Chenonceau for the Château de Chaumont. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.
In 1594, at the death of Diane' grand-daughter Charlotte de la Marck, the chateau passed to her husband the vicomte de Turenne, who sold it to a tax farmer Largentier, who had grown rich on gathering in the salt tax called the gabelle. Largentier eventually being arrested for peculation, the chateau and the title of sieur de Chaumont passed into a family originating at Lucca, who possessed it until 1667, when it passed by family connections to the seigneurs de Ruffignac.
The duc de Beauvilliers bought the chateau in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. His eventual heir was forced to sell Chaumont to pay his debts to a maître des requêtes ordinaire to Louis XV, Monsieur Bertin, who demolished the north wing built by Charles II d'Amboise and the Cardinal d'Amboise, to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. Benjamin Franklin was never a guest at the castle. His grandson, Temple, was. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.
Madame de Staël later acquired the château in 1810. The comte d'Aramon bought the neglected château in 1833, undertook extensive renovations under the architect Jules Potier de la Morandière of Blois, who was later inspector of the works at the château de Blois; M. d'Aramon installed a museum of medieval arts in the "Tour de Catherine de Médicis". By 1851 the "Chaumont suite" of early-16th century Late Gothic tapestries with subjects of courntry life emblemmatic of the triumph of Eternity, closely associated with Chaumont and now at the Cleveland Museum of Art, was still hanging in the "Chambre de Catherine de Médicis"; the tapestries had been cut and pieced to fit the room. Marie-Charlotte Say, heiress to the Say sugar fortune, acquired Chaumont in 1875. Later that year, she married Amédée de Broglie, who commissioned the luxurious stables in 1877 to designs by Paul-Ernest Sanson, further restored the chateau under Sanson's direction and replanted the surrounding park in the English naturalistic landscape fashion
Full article ▸