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Château d'Amboise

château d'amboise, chapel of saint-hubert in château d'amboise
The royal Château at Amboise is a château located in Amboise, in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France Confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favoured royal residence and was extensively rebuilt King Charles VIII died at the château in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel The château fell into decline from the second half of the 16th century and the majority of the interior buildings were later demolished, but some survived and have been restored, along with the outer defensive circuit of towers and walls It has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840 The Château d'Amboise is situated at an elevation of 81 meters1


  • 1 History
    • 11 Origins
    • 12 Royal residence
    • 13 Amboise conspiracy
    • 14 Decline
  • 2 Gallery
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 Further reading
  • 6 External links



The château seen from the south

Château d'Amboise was built on a spur above the River Loire The strategic qualities of the site were recognised before the medieval construction of the castle, and a Gallic oppidum was built there2 In the late 9th century Ingelgarius was made viscount of Orléans and through his mother was related to Hugh the Abbot, tutors to the French kings Ingelgarius married Adelais, a member of a prominent family a bishop and archbishop were her uncles who controlled Château d'Amboise He was later made Count of the Angevins and his rise can be attributed to his political connections and reputation as a soldier Château d'Amboise would pass through Ingelgarius and Adelais' heirs, and he was succeeded by their son, Fulk the Red As Fulk the Red expanded his territory, Amboise, Loches, and Villentrois formed the core of his possessions3 Amboise lay on the eastern frontier of the Angevins holdings4

Amboise and its castle descended through the family to Fulke Nerra in 987 Fulk had to contend with the ambitions of Odo I, Count of Blois who wanted to expand his own territory into Anjou Odo I could call on the support of many followers and instructed Conan, Count of Rennes, Gelduin of Saumr, and Abbot Robert of Saint-Florent de Saumur to harass Fulk's properties While Conan was busy on Anjou's western border, Gelduin and Robert attempted to isolate the easternmost castles of Amboise and Loches by raiding the Saumurois and disrupting communications5 To further threaten Amboise, fortifications were erected at Chaumont and Montsoreau, while Saint-Aignan was garrisoned6

Royal residenceedit

The château rises above its surrounding town

Expanded and improved over time, on 4 September 1434 it was seized by Charles VII of France, after its owner, Louis d'Amboise, was convicted of plotting against Louis XI and condemned to be executed in 1431 However, the king pardoned him but took his château at Amboise Once in royal hands, the château became a favourite of French kings, from Louis XI to Francis I7 Charles VIII decided to rebuild it extensively, beginning in 1492 at first in the French late Gothic Flamboyant style and then after 1495 employing two Italian mason-builders, Domenico da Cortona and Fra Giocondo, who provided at Amboise some of the first Renaissance decorative motifs seen in French architecture The names of three French builders are preserved in the documents: Colin Biart, Guillaume Senault and Louis Armangeart

Following the Italian War of 1494–1495, Charles brought Italian architects and artisans to France to work on the château, and turn it into "the first Italianate palace in France"8 Among the people Charles brought from Italy was Pacello da Mercogliano who designed the gardens at the Châteaux of Ambois and Blois; his work was highly influential amongst French landscape designers9 Charles died at Château d'Amboise in 1498 after he hit his head on a door lintel8 Before his death he had the upper terrace widened to hold a larger parterre and enclosed with latticework and pavilions; his successor, Louis XII, built a gallery round the terrace which can be seen in the 1576 engraving by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, in Les plus excellens bastimens de France The parterres have been recreated in the twentieth century as rectangles of lawns set in gravel and a formal bosquet of trees

The chapel of Saint-Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci is buried

King Francis I was raised at Amboise, which belonged to his mother, Louise of Savoy, and during the first few years of his reign the château reached the pinnacle of its glory As a guest of the King, Leonardo da Vinci came to Château Amboise in December 1515 and lived and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the château by an underground passage It has been assumed that he is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining the Château, which had been built in 1491–9610citation needed

Henry II and his wife, Catherine de' Medici, raised their children in Château Amboise along with Mary Stuart, the child Queen of Scotland who had been promised in marriage to the future French Francis II

Amboise conspiracyedit

Main article: Amboise conspiracy

In 1560, during the French Wars of Religion, a conspiracy by members of the Huguenot House of Bourbon against the House of Guise that virtually ruled France in the name of the young Francis II was uncovered by the comte de Guise and stifled by a series of hangings, which took a month to carry out By the time it was finished, 1200 Protestants were gibbetted, strung from the town walls, hung from the iron hooks that held pennants and tapestries on festive occasions and from the very balcony of the Logis du Roy The Court soon had to leave the town because of the smell of corpses

The abortive peace of Amboise was signed at Amboise on 12 March 1563, between Louis I de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, who had been implicated in the conspiracy to abduct the king, and Catherine de' Medici The "edict of pacification", as it was termed, authorised Protestant services only in chapels of seigneurs and justices, with the stipulation that such services be held outside the walls of towns Neither side was satisfied by this compromise, nor was it widely honored

Detail of Late Gothic carving on the Chapel of Saint-Hubert


Amboise never returned to royal favour At the beginning of the 17th century, the huge château was all but abandoned when the property passed into the hands of Gaston d'Orleans, the brother of the Bourbon King Louis XIII After his death it returned to the Crown and was turned into a prison during the Fronde, and under Louis XIV of France it held disgraced minister Nicolas Fouquet and the duc de Lauzun Louis XV made a gift of it to his minister the duc de Choiseul During the French Revolution, the greater part of the château was demolished,11 a great deal more destruction was done, and an engineering assessment commissioned by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century resulted in a great deal of the château having to be demolished

Since 1840, the Château d'Amboise has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture12 King Louis-Philippe began restoring it during his reign but with his abdication in 1848, the château was confiscated by the government The captive Emir Abd Al-Qadir, who resisted the French colonisation of Algeria, and an entourage of family and retainers were transferred to Château d'Amboise in November 184813 In 1852 an article in Bentley's Miscellany noted that before Abd Al-Qadir took up residence in the château, it had frequently been visited by tourists

Amboise, a few years since, was a smiling, lively little town, and the castle was a pleasure residence of the last king; the gardens were delicious, the little chapter of St Hubert a gem, restored in all its lustre, and the glory of artists and amateurs All is now changed: a gloom has fallen on the scene, the flowers are faded, the gates are closed, they pretty pavilions are shut-up; there are guards instead of gardeners, and a dreary prison frowns over the reflecting waters, which glide mournfully past the towers

— Bentley's Miscellany, 185214

Later that year, in October, President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte visited Abd al-Qadir at Amboise to give him the news of his release15 In 1873, Louis-Philippe’s heirs were given control of the property and a major effort to repair it was made However, during the German invasion in 1940 the château was damaged further Today, the present comte de Paris, descendant of Louis-Philippe, repairs and maintains the château through the Fondation Saint-Louis


See alsoedit

  • Gardens of the French Renaissance
  • List of castles in France


  1. ^ Château d'Amboise Elevation and Location
  2. ^ Garrett 2010, p 97
  3. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp 4–5
  4. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp 15–16
  5. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp 27–28
  6. ^ Bachrach 1993, pp 36–37
  7. ^ Garrett 2010, p xx
  8. ^ a b Garrett 2010, p 100
  9. ^ Benevolo 1978, p 363
  10. ^ Records show that Leonardo da Vinci was buried in the church of Saint-Florentin, part of the Château Amboise At the time of Napoleon this church was in such a ruinous state, dilapidated during the French Revolution, that the engineer appointed by Napoleon decided it was not worth preserving; it was demolished and the stonework was used to repair the château Some sixty years later the site of Saint-Florentin was excavated: a complete skeleton was found with fragments of a stone inscription containing some of the letters of Leonardo's name It is this collection of bones that is now in the chapel of Saint-Hubert
  11. ^ Today's visitor sees about a fifth of what Amboise once was, and can gain an impression of its extent by walking its parapets
  12. ^ Monuments Historiques et Immeubles protégés sur Amboise in French, wwwannuaire-mairiefr, retrieved 2012-04-23 
  13. ^ Garrett 2010, p 101
  14. ^ Anon 1852, p 258
  15. ^ Garrett 2010, p 102
  • Anon 1852, "The Arabs at Amboise", Bentley's Miscellany, Richard Bentley: 258–262 
  • Benevolo, Leonardo 1978 1968, Landry, Judith, ed, The Architecture of the Renaissance, Volume 1, ISBN 0-415-26709-9 
  • Bachrach, Bernard S 1993, Fulk Nerra, the neo-Roman consul, 987–1040: a political biography of the Angevin count, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-07996-0 
  • Garrett, Martin 2010, The Loire: A Cultural History, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-976839-4 

Further readingedit

  • Dupuch, Antoine-Adolphe 1849 Abd-el-Kader au château d'Amboise Bordeaux: Imprimerie de H Faye OCLC 457413515 

External linksedit

  • Official website
  • Château d'Amboise - The official website of France in English
  • Cradle of renaissance
  • Ministry of Culture database entry for Château d'Amboise in French
  • Ministry of Culture photos

Coordinates: 47°24′47″N 0°59′09″E / 4741306°N 098583°E / 4741306; 098583

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