The château through the centuries
The Royal Château of Amboise site has undergone huge transformations through the centuries. Recently collected scientific data have enabled us to recreate the château in all its forms, from the Middle Ages to today.
The Lords of Amboise before 1431
The château in the time of Louis XI
The château in the time of Charles VI
The château in the time of Charles VI
The château in the time of Louis-Philippe
The château today
A 3D recreation area, recently created in the château’s orangery, enables visitors to understand the importance of this monument, the major construction of which began in the late 15th century, under the reign of Charles VIII. Thus, they can learn that, contrary to what was believed in the 19th century, 75% of the château built during his reign survives today.
The château’s illustrious guests
Click on the portraits to discover the guests’ biographies.
The Amboise-Chaumont Lords
Charlotte of Savoie
Anne of France
Queen of Castile and Léon
Jeanne of France
Margaret of Austria
Anne of Brittany
Bernardino da Brescia
Domenico Bernabei Da Cortona
Dom Pacello da Mercogliano
Fra Giovanni Giocondo
Louise of Savoie
Marguerite of Angoulême
Claude of France
Leonardo da Vinci
Andrea del Sarto
( Fin XVè S.-1551)
Robert III de La Marck
Ulrich von Hutten
Franz von Sickingen
(1481 - 1523)
Lorenzo II de Medici
Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne
Connetable (Constable) de Bourbon
Madame de Chateaubriant
Cardinal de Boisy
Cardinal of Bourges
Henri 1er d'Albret
King of Navarre
(1489 - 1525)
Monsieur de Vendôme
(1481 – 1536)
Eleanor of habsburg and Austria
François de France
Charles of Habsbourg
Catherine de Médicis
François Ier of Lorraine
Charles of Guise
Jean du Barry
François III Bouchard d'Aubeterre
Marguerite of France
Anne of Austria
Gaston of France
Charles de Batz dit d'Artagnan
(Between 1611 et 1615-1673)
Jean de La Fontaine
Étienne-François de Choiseul
Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon
Emir Abd el-Kader
Hélène of Mecklembourg-Schwerin
Françoise of Braganza
CLOVIS IER, KING OF THE FRANKS (AROUND 466/ 481/511):
Son of the king of the Salian Franks of Tournai, ChildericIer (?/ 457/481), and grandson of Merovech (around 412/ 448/457), Clovis became head of his father’s small kingdom in 481. He rapidly conquered the bordering territories and unified a major part of the Frank kingdoms, putting an end to incursions by the Alemanni and Burgundians. In 503, he signed a temporary peace treaty with Alaric, the king of the Visigoths, in Amboise, on the Ile d’Or in the middle of the Loire (in front of the current château) on the border between the Frank and Visigoth kingdoms. After the death of their king, Alaric II (?/ 484/507), Clovis crossed this border with his army and launched an attack on the south of Gaul, then Visigoth territory. Clovis was also famous for his conversion to Christianity after the victory at Tolbiac in 496. Baptised by the bishop St Rémi (437-535), he made the future kingdom of France the “Church’s eldest daughter”.
FOULQUES III, KNOWN AS FOULQUES NERRA, COUNT OF ANJOU (AROUND 970-1040) :
Born around 970, FoulquesNerrawas the son of GeoffroyIer of Anjou (around 940-987). He succeeded the latter as the head of the county in 987. In a state of perpetual war with his neighbours, he besieged, pillaged and burnt his enemy’s towns, such as Angers in the year 1000 and Saumur in 1026. He was known in Amboise for having ordered the construction of the St. Florentin collegiate chapel and a count’s palace called ‘domicilium’ on the Château’s promontory (no longer there today).
PHILIPPE AUGUSTE (1165/ 1180/1223), KING OF FRANCE
In 1214, Philippe Auguste (1165/ 1180/1223) king ofFrance, moved into Touraine. The town of Amboise thus entered definitively into the French remit. The château was entrusted to the Amboise-Chaumont family, vassals of the king of France.
THE AMBOISE-CHAUMONT LORDS, OWNERS OF THE CHÂTEAU (1214-1431)
After the conquest of Touraine by Philippe-Auguste (1165/ 1180/1223), king of France, Amboise became the fiefdom of the Amboise-Chaumont family. However, destiny had other plans - in 1431 Louis of Amboise (1392-1469) was condemned to death for plotting against Georges de La Trémoille (1384-1446), the favourite of King Charles VII (1403/ 1422/1461). Although finally pardoned, Louis of Amboise had to give up the Château of Amboise, which was confiscated by the Crown.
CHARLES VII, KING OF FRANCE (1403/ 1422/1461)
Born in Paris in 1403, Charles of Valois was the son of Charles VI (1368/ 1380/1422), known as “The Mad” and Isabeau of Bavaria (1371-1435). His youth was marked by the Hundred Years War and the rivalry between the kingdom of France and the duchy of Burgundy, allies of the English. Upon the death of his father in 1422, Charles VII inherited a kingdom drained of life. His authority was contested and the English army occupied the majority of French territory. Charles resided mainly in Chinon, in the Loire Valley. In 1431, he condemned the lord of Amboise to death (the latter finally escaped) and confiscated his assets. This is how the Château of Amboise entered the royal domain. Charles VII established an infantry company, the ‘Francs-Archers’, in the fortress of Amboise. His reign was marked by the epic of Joan of Arc (1512-1431), who had him crowned in Reims in 1429 and led the fight against the invaders from across the Channel. Charles VII won the final victory at Castillon-la-Batailleand in 1453 ended the war that had lasted almost one hundred years. After this victory, he dedicated himself to re-establishing his authority and the kingdom’s finances, with his minister Jacques Cœur.
LOUIS XI, KING OF FRANCE (1423/ 1461/1483)
Louis XI was the eldest son of Charles VII (1403/ 1422/1461) and Marie of Anjou (1404-1463). He ascended to the throne in 1461 and held great ambitions for the kingdom. Most notably, he annexed a number of significant territories to the royal domain, such as Maine, Anjou and above all part of Burgundy in 1477. He based his political aims on an alliance with the people in order to reinforce the royal authority over the great feudal lords. An astute politician, he remains one of the key initiators of the organisation of State Power in France. Preferring his residence at Plessis-Lès-Tours, he installed his wife and his children at the royal Château of Amboise, removed from court life. His main concern was the education of his heir, the dauphin prince Charles (the future Charles VIII, whom he visited regularly in Amboise to reassure himself of his son’s progress and health). Upon his death in 1483, he left his only son, Charles VIII (1470-1483-1498), a relatively powerful and prosperous kingdom.
His visits to the royal château of Amboise :
1461 (7th to 9th October; 28th October to 18th November; 27th November to 29th December); 1462 (21st to 27th June; 1st to 9th November; 18th November to 1st December); 1463 (12th to 28th July); 1464 (3rd, 14th, 27th to 30th December); 1465 (24th to 26th April); 1466 (16th April); 1467 (16th April); 1468 (17th, 24th to 29th March; 24th April to 7th June); 1469 (13th February to 5th April, 22nd April to 10th June; 2nd July to 8th August; 5th to 18th October; 29th October to 29th November; 10th to 22nd December); 1470 (2nd January to 21st March; 5th May to 4th July; 12th to 20th August; 26th September to 1st October; 10th October; 28th November to 31st December); 1471 (7th to 9th January; 3rd, 25th July to 3rd August; 25th August to 4th September; 28th October); 1472 (15th to 16th January, 31st January to 15th February; 28th October to 8th November); 1473 (12th February; 7th May to 7th July; 7th September; 24th November); 1474 (July); 1480 (24th December); 1482 (March; 21st to 24th September; 30th November); 1483 (5th January).
Dates of visits established from correspondence and royal deeds. Source : www.cour-de-france.fr. research database.
CHARLOTTE OF SAVOIE (1441/ 1461/1483)
Daughter of Louis Ier, Duke ofSavoie, she married the future Louis XI in 1451, then was crowned queen of France in 1461. She gave birth to eight children, three of whom survived to adulthood: Anne of France (future Anne ofBeaujeuand regent of the kingdom), Jeanne de France, future wife of Louis XII and the future Charles VIII. She played no political role. Her husband, Louis XI, established her with her children at the château of Amboise, although the court remained at his side at the Château of Plessis-Lès-Tours. So, she devoted herself to her children’s education and bought great quantities of books, which formed a remarkable library. After a solitary life, she died at Amboise on 1st December 1483..
ANNE OF FRANCE (ANNE OF BEAUJEU) (1461-1522)
The eldest daughter of the French King Louis XI (1423/ 1461/1483) and Charlotte of Savoie (1441/ 1461/1483), she was raised at the château of Amboise, removed from the court, alongside her mother. In 1474, she married Pierre ofBeaujeu, younger brother of Duke Jean II of Bourbon, then his successor to the title of Duke of Bourbon. Upon the death of Louis XI in 1483, she assumed with her husband the de facto regency of his brother Charles VIII until 1491. Contested by the 1484 Estates General and by his cousin Louis of Orléans (the future Louis XII) she had to confront the Mad War until the peace treaty of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier was signed in 1488. She presided over the marriage negotiations for her brother and the heir to the duchy of Brittany, Anne. After Charles VIII came of age, she established herself at Moulinswhere she held one of the kingdom’s most sumptuous courts.
ISABELLA I, KNOWN AS “THE CATHOLIC”, QUEEN OF CASTILE AND LÉON, QUEEN CONSORT OF ARAGON AND NAPLES (1451/ 1474/1504)
The daughter of King Jean II ofCastile (1405/ 1406/1454) and his second wife, she did not inherit the throne when the latter died. However, she claimed the crown upon the death of her half-brother, usurping the latter’s daughter, in 1474. After turbulent negotiations, she married Ferdinand of Aragon (1452-1516) in 1469. This union brought together the kingdoms of Castile and Léon and Aragon. The couple completed the ‘Reconquista’ (reconquest)thatled to the annexation of Grenada in 1492. In the same year, the explorer Christopher Columbus discovered the ‘West Indies’ in the name of the kingdom ofCastile. ‘The Catholic Kings’ also organised the Inquisition, which began in 1492, and led to the exile of numerous Jews and Muslims to the Ottoman Empire. Isabella stayed in Amboise in 1501..
JEANNE OF FRANCE, QUEEN OF FRANCE (1464-1505) CANONISED IN 1950 UNDER THE NAME ST JEANNE OF VALOIS.
Born in 1464, she was the second daughter of Louis XI (1423/ 1461/1483) and the sister of the future Charles VIII (1470/ 1483/1498). Known as The Maimed or The Lame, she was known for her ugly appearance. She was raised at Amboise before being married at 12 years old to her cousin Louis of Orléans, the future Louis XII. Upon becoming king in 1498, Louis had the marriage annulled by the Pope in order to be able to marry the widow of Charles VIII, Anne de Bretagne (1477/ 1491-1498/ 1499- 1514).After having held the title of queen of France for less than a year, Jeanne de France retired to Bourges where she founded the Annonciade monastic order.
CHARLES VIII, KING OF FRANCE (1470/ 1483/1498):
The only surviving son of Louis XI (1423/ 1461/1483), Charles was raised at the Château of Amboise alongside his mother Charlotte ofSavoieand his sisters. Although Charles VIII became king at the age of 13, he remained under the guardianship of his sister, Anne ofBeaujeu (1461-1522), who exercised de facto power. He came of age in 1491 and the same year married Anne de Bretagne(1477/ 1491-1498/ 1499-1514). Thus, he began the process of incorporating the duchy of Brittany into France. He ordered that the fortress of Amboise be transformed into a spacious residence comprising several formal loggia and cavalry towers, the construction of which was almost complete when he died. Claiming his rights over the kingdom of Naples, he launched his conquest in 1494, the starting point for French ambitions in Italy until 1559. His premature death at 28 years of age, after hitting his head on a door lintel at the château,ended the older Valois line.
His stays at the Royal Castle of Amboise:
1470: 30th June, birth at the château, his main residence until his accession in 1483; 22nd June 1483 engagement to Margaret of Burgundy at the château; March-April 1490 (frequent absences due to travel to Moulins, Lyon and Grenoble from January 1490 to April 1491); December 1491 stayed at Plessis-Lès-Tours andLangeaisfor his marriage to Anne of Brittany (1477/ 1491-1498/ 1499-1514) with whom he returned to Amboise on 31st December 1493 (Christmas); 1494 (2nd January to 13th February, he left Amboise to conquer the kingdom of Naples). March 1496, he returned to Amboise and visited the building works at the château; October 1496 funeral of the heir apparent Charles at the château before he left for Lyon then Moulins. 1498 (from March to 7th Aprilthe date of his accidental death at the château).
Dates of stay established from correspondence and royal acts. Source: www.cour-defrance.fr database
MARGARET OF AUSTRIA (1480-1530)
The granddaughter of Charles le Téméraire, Duke of Burgundy, she was the second child of Emperor Maximilian Ier and Marie of Burgundy (1457-1482). In 1483, at the age of 3, she was betrothed to the heir apparent of France, the future Charles VIII, and taken to Amboise to be raised there as a Daughter of France. Anne ofBeaujeu, Charles’s older sister, regent of the kingdom, entrusted Margaret’s education to Madame de Segré. Her young fiancé treated her tenderly, but in 1491 decided to renounce this marriage and her dowry (most notably made up of the provinces of Artois and Franche-Comté) to marry Anne de Bretagne. She was officially repudiated in December 1491 (at the age of 11) and sent back to her father. She held a grudge against France for a long time and later played an eminent diplomatic role, as aunt of the future Charles V and governor of the Netherlands.
Anne de Bretagne, DUCHESS OF BRITTANY AND QUEEN OF FRANCE (1477/ 1491-1498/ 1499/1514)
Daughter of François II (1435-1488), Duke of Brittany, in 1488 she succeeded him at the head of the duchy, in the absence of a male heir. Because of its strategic position and relatively good administration, Brittany constituted an important territory for a number of European monarchs. She was first engaged to Edward (1470-1483), Prince of Wales and son of King Edward IV of England (1442-1483) then married by proxy to Maximilian I of Habsburg (1459/ 1508/1519), the future Holy Roman Emperor. She had her marriage annulled to finally marry Charles VIII King of France in 1491 and resided mainly at the Château of Amboise.
Charles’ premature death left the young widow in a delicate position. Sheagreed, in accordance with the terms of her first marriage contract, to marry the new king of France, Louis XII (1462/ 1498/1515), in 1499. She then established herself at the court in Blois. This tragic episode meant she is the only woman to have been queen of France twice. Anne de Bretagne passed away in the Château of Blois in January 1514.
CHARLES-ORLAND OF FRANCE, DAUPHIN PRINCE OF FRANCE (1492-1495)
Charles-Orland of France, born in Amboise en 1492, was the first son of Charles VIII(1470/ 1483/1498) and Anne de Bretagne (1477/ 1491-1498/ 1499-1514). He died of measles at the Château of Amboise three years later. His mother entrusted the creation of his tomb to the famous sculptor Michel Colombe. The tomb is now preserved in Tours cathedral.
LOUIS XII, KING OF FRANCE (1462/ 1498/1515) :
A member of the younger branch of the Valois family, Louis of Orléanssucceeded his cousin Charles VIII, who died prematurely at Amboise. Despite preferring his residence in Blois, he nevertheless continued the building works started by his predecessor at Amboise, in order to create a residence fit for his heir apparent François of Angoulême (futur François 1er).
Nicknamed the “Father of the People” by the Estates General in 1506, he led reforms in the fields of justice and taxation. He also found fame during the wars in Italy, where he suffered a defeat at Novara in 1513 that forced the French to retreat from the Duchy of Milan. Weakened by age and gout, he died in Paris on 1st January 1515.
BERNARDINO DA BRESCIA (1490-1540)
A woodwork and marquetry expert originally from Brescia in Italy, , he worked on the refurbishment of the loggia at Amboise, under the reign of Charles VIII.
An Italian engineer, he installed at the foot of the château of Amboise a special oven “to incubate and birth chickens without hens”.
GUIDO MAZZONI, KNOWN AS, PAGANINO, (1450-1518)
This sculptor, painter and illuminator, originally from Modena, came to France on the invitation of the Kings Charles VIII (from 1494 to 1498), and Louis XII (from 1507 to 1516.). Most notably, he created the tomb of Charles VIII.
DOMENICO BERNABEI DA CORTONA KNOWN AS “BOCCADOR” (1465-1549)
On the invitation of King Charles VIII, he lived in France from 1495 to around 1532. An architect and engineer, he was the main architect behind the royal festivities in Amboise in 1518. He was commissioned by François Ier to design the château of Chambord (1519).
Dom Pacello da Mercogliano (1453-1534)
A Neapolitan gardener, he agreed to follow King Charles VIII to France after the latter’s Italian campaign. He stayed in France from 1496 to 1499. First and foremost a botanist, he was involved in the creation and maintenance of the gardens at the royal Château and the Château Gaillard (1496-1498) in Amboise, the Château of Blois (1499) and the Château de Gaillon.
Fra Giovanni Giocondo or Fra'Iacando (1433-c. 1515)
A Venetian humanist, engineer and architect, he was in France from 1495 to 1505, and is mentioned in the manuscript of the building accounts for the château of Amboise from 1495 to 1496. During his time in Amboise, he also worked on the building projects at the HôtelJoyeuseand the Château Gaillard. In 1508, he was also mentioned for his contribution to the pipework in the gardens at Blois. He designed the Notre Dame bridge in Paris and also edited the 1511 work ‘De Architectura’ (On Architecture) by Vitruvius.
ANDREA SOLARIO (1460-1524), ALSO KNOWN AS ANDREA DI BARTOLO
This painter, a former pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, was at the royal court in Amboise from 1507 to 1510. In particular, he created a Portrait of Charles at Amboise, after 1507, which is today preserved at the Louvre Museum
LOUISE OF SAVOIE, PRINCESS OF SAVOIE (1476-1531)
Born in 1473, Louise ofSavoiewas the daughter of Philippe II ofSavoie (1438-1497) and Marguerite of Bourbon (1438-1483). In 1488, at the age of 12, she was married to Charles of Valois, Count of Angoulême (1459-1496). From this union two children were born: Marguerite of Angoulême (1492-1549), future queen of Navarre, and François of Angoulême (1494/ 1515/1547), future king of France under the title of François Ier. Following the death of her husband in 1496, she devoted herself to her children’s education. Her son, who became the heir apparent of King Louis XII, was summoned to live at the château of Amboise, close to the court established at Blois, until 1508, when he was summoned to the king’s court in Blois.
After her son’s accession (1515), she was twice designated regent of the kingdom. In 1515, while François Ier fought in Italy, and from 1525 to 1526 while he fought once more for French claims on the Italian peninsula. She died in 1531 after having fiercely defended the interests of the kingdom and her family.
FRANÇOIS IER, KING OF FRANCE (1494/ 1515/1547)
François ofAngoulême, heir apparent to his distant cousin King Louis XII (part of the Valois-Angoulêmebranch of the Capetian dynasty), to the Loire Valley in 1498 to live in Amboise with his mother, Louise de Savoie and his sister, Marguerite of Angoulême, close to the royal court in Blois. Thus he lived at Amboise until 1508. When Louis XII (1462/ 1498/1515) died without a male heir, healso ceded his place to his cousin who became François Ier in 1515.
Considered to be the emblematic sovereign of the Renaissance, he was known for the significant development of the arts during his reign. Following his victories in Italy, he brought Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) to the Loire Valley and imported Italian taste to the French kingdom. After his accession, he raised the height of the royal loggia at the château of Amboise, where he stayed regularly.
His visits to the royal château of Amboise after his accession :
1515 (5th to 29th June); 1516 (16th to 18th August; 25th August to 30th September; 25th to 31st December); 1517 (1st to 4th January; 24th November; 10th to 31st December); 1518 (1st January to 18th February; 23rd February to 2ndJune); 1519 (16th October to 2nd December); 1520 (2nd April; 9th to 20th November); 1524 (24th to 25th May; 10th June; 18th June to 1st July); 1526 (30th July to 27th August; 3rd September, 8th to 13th September); 1529 (18th April; 28th April to 2nd May; 26th May); 1530 (22nd March; 31st March to 2nd April; 26th September to 25th October); 1532(12th to 16th September; 22nd September); 1534 (3rd to 19th October; 28th November); 1536 (29th October; 17th to 19th November);1538 (26th August); 1539 (14th December); 1541(5th to 20th April; 27th April; 1st to 9th May); 1543 (19th to 21st January); 1545 (12th April).
Dates of stay established from correspondence and royal acts. Source: www.cour-defrance.fr database
MARGUERITE OF ANGOULÊME, QUEEN OF NAVARRE (1492-1549)
The eldest daughter of Louise de Savoie (1476-1531) and Charles of Valois (1459-1496), Marguerite was born in Angoulême in 1492. She went to Amboise with her mother and her brother when the latter was designated heir apparent to the French crown in 1498. She was a privileged witness to his youth in Amboise, which she later wrote about in her work ‘Heptaméron’. First, she married Charles of Valois, Duke of Alençon (1489-1525) in 1509. She was godmother to the eldest son of her brother, the dauphin prince François, whose baptism was celebrated in 1518 at the château of Amboise. Widowed and childless in 1525, she remarried, in 1527, Henri II, , king of Navarre (1503/1517/1555). Most notably, from this union Jeanne of Albret (1528/1555/1572) was born, mother of Henri of Navarre (1553/1589/1610), the future Henri IV. She was considered a literary woman, in particular for her work as author of ‘Heptaméron’ published in 1524 and ‘Le miroir de l'âmepécheresse’ (Mirror of the Sinful Soul) published in 1531.
CLAUDE OF FRANCE, QUEEN OF FRANCE (1499/ 1515/1524)
Claude of France, born in 1499, was the eldest daughter of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne After turbulent diplomatic negotiations, she was married to François of Valois, the future François Ier in 1514. She became queen of France the following year after the death of his father and accompanied her husband to the Château of Amboise on numerous occasions, in particular for the festivities for the baptism of the dauphin prince François de France (1518-1536) and the marriage of Lorenzo de Medici and Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne (1495-1519) in 1518. She died in childbirth in 1524.
LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519) :
Born in Vinci in the province of Florence in Tuscany, Leonardo da Vinci was so many things: a man with a universal mind, a painter, an engineer, a sculptor, an architect, a musician, a poet, a philosopher, a writer and a scientific genius.
Leonardo da Vinci ended up accepting the invitation from the young François Ier (1494/ 1515/1547) to come to Amboise. He brought with him several of his works, most notably the Mona Lisa, the Virgin and Child with St. Anne, and his St. John the Baptist.
During the last three years of his life, from 1516 to 1519, he lived in Clos Lucé, a few hundred metres from the Château. In 1517, he produced a sketch of the royal Château of Amboise (now preserved in the Windsor family collections). During the royal festivities of spring 1518 to celebrate the baptism of the dauphin prince François and the marriage of the Duke of Urbino (Lorenzo II de Medici) and Madeleine de la Tour-d’Auvergne, Leonardo da Vinci found himself commissioned to create decors of Arcs de Triomphe. He also created life-size,trompe-l’œil high walls depicting the French victories in Italy on the Châteliersplateau, close to the château. An engineer, he created fake battle cannonades. One of them damaged a stained-glass window at the St.Florentin collegiate chapel, inside the château walls. The king bought five of the master’s ‘Amboise’ works. According to the Venetian Paolo Giovio, the St. Anne in particular was exhibited in “a chapel of the royal château” until 1540. On the king’s request, Leonardo devised numerous projects like the construction of a monumental palace at Romorantin (in the Loir-et-Cher). Feeling his strength fading, he recorded his will with the Amboise lawyer, M. Bourreau, in April 1519. In it, he described in detail the arrangements for his funeral. On 2nd May 1519, he took his last breath at Clos-Lucé. In accordance with his last wishes, four days later François Ier'sbody was buried in the St. Florentin collegiate chapel. His remains were identified in 1863 during an architectural dig and transferred inside the château walls to the St. Hubert chapel, where they still rest today.
ANDREA DEL SARTO (1486-1530)
Real name Andrea d'Agnolo di Francesco di Luca or Andrea d'Agnolo di Francesco di Luca di Paolo del Migliore Vannucchi or Andrea Vanucci.
He created several commissions for François of Angoulême (the future François 1er) ‘La Sainte Famille aux anges’ (The Holy Family with the Angels), then after his accession, most notably Madonna col Bambino (Madonna and Child), Santa Elisabetta e San Giovannino et La Charité (St Elisabeth, St John and Charity) (1518), preserved in the Louvre. He stayed at the court in Amboise from June 1518 to March 1519, with his pupil Andrea Squarzella. He left Amboise to rejoin his wife Lucrezia in Italy. At the same time, he was commissioned by the king of France to buy works of art. Contrary to his commitments, he did not complete this mission and never returned to France.
JOHN STEWART, (LATE 15th century.-1551), LORD OF VÉZINES AND FONTAINE, CAPTAIN OF THE ROYAL BODYGUARDS FROM 1514 TO 1544.
In 1514, he was named captain of the 1st company of the Scottish guard, the most prestigious unit of the four companies of the king’s bodyguards.
“Commander in chief of the French army”, he was also the commander of the four companies of the royal bodyguards and marched at the head of the guards during all official ceremonies and during all military campaigns.
ROBERT III DE LA MARCK, LORD OF FLEURANGE AND OF SEDAN, KNOWN AS ‘THE YOUNG ADVENTURER’ (1491- 1535), CAPTAIN OF THE CENT-SUISSES (SWISS GUARDS)
At the age of 10, he arrived at the court in Amboise and joined the “little gang” of François of Angoulême, the future King François Ier. The king liked to call him the “little adventurer” because of his courage during the taking ofVerona at the head of a handful of men. Then he participated in the battle of Ravenna in 1512, then took Alessandria. At Novara, a disaster for the French, he narrowly escaped capture with more than 40 injuries. On the evening of the victory at Marignan, he was knighted by the king himself. He became captain of the Cent-Suisses company, charged with guarding the royal apartments. In 1519, he was sent to Germany to persuade the Princes-Electors to give their votes to François Ier. He failed in this difficult diplomatic mission. In 1520, he was present at the meeting between François Ier and Henri VIII, at the Field of the Cloth of Gold Camp. Taken prisoner at the battle of Pavia 1525, he was in captivity with François Ier. The emperor Charles V, irritated by the defection of his father, Robert II de La Marck, imprisoned him in Flanders where he remained for some years. During this imprisonment, he was made Marshall of France and used his time in captivity to write his memoirs. In 1536, he was in charge of Péronne while the town was besieged by the troops of Charles V He ended his career with the title of Marshall of France. He left behind for posterity his Memoires, the ‘Histoire des Choses MémorablesAdvenues du Reigne of Louis XII et François Ier, in France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands from 1499 to the year 1521, edited at the Château of the Ecluse in 1521.
ULRICH VON HUTTEN(1488-1523)
Ulrich von Hutten, “ex Buchonia” Knight of the Empire, was a humanist and one of the great promoters of Reform in the Holy Empire. After studying law in Venice then Bologna, he returned to Germany in 1514. On the recommendation of Eitelwolf von Stein, he briefly entertained the possibility of entering into the service of the new archbishop of Magdeburg and Mainz, Albert of Brandeburg (1490-1545), but the death of his benefactor crushed his hopes. Thanks to the patronage of those close to him and the archbishop of Mainz, he was able to finish his studies in Italy, and aspired to a post as a princely advisor in the Holy Empire's chanceries. In December 1515 he was in Rome. After having defended the emperor’s cause in 1516 against five French emissaries, he retired for the summer to Bologna to continue his studies in law and Greek literature. He completed his University studies in 1517 but failed to take his exams. On his return to Germany, Emperor Maximilian I awarded him 'the poet's crown', having clearly been charmed by his writings. In 1519, Ulrich joined the Swabian League, formed against Ulrich de Wurtemberg, the killer of his son Hans (7th May 1515). He became one of Luther’s main propagandists (he thus featured in Pope Leo X’s excommunication lists in January 1521).
FRANZ VON SICKINGEN (1481 - 1523)
Franz von Sickingen (1481 - 1523), German war chief, fought in the ranks of Emperor Maximilian until his banishment in 1513. In 1518, Maximilian I annulled Sickingen’s exile. After the death of Maximilian, Sickingen accepted bribes from François Ier to agitate for the latter’s candidature, but during the election, he led his troops to Frankfurt-am-Main to guarantee the election of Charles V. As recompense for his service he was made an imperial chamberlain and advisor.
LORENZO II DE MEDICI (1492-1519)
Born in 1492, Lorenzo II de Medici, Duke of Urbino, was the son of Piero di Lorenzo II de Medici (1472-1503) and AlfonsinaOrsini (1472-1531) and the nephew of Pope Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici) (Pontiff from 1513 to 1521). He was also the grandson of the famous Lorenzo I de Medici (1449- 1492), known as “Lorenzo the Magnificent”. Representing his uncle the Pope, he was the godfather to the dauphin prince François of France baptised on 25th April 1518 at the Château of Amboise. A few days later he married Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne (1495-1519) in the Château of Amboise’s St. Florentin collegiate chapel. This was a diplomatic manœuvreby the Pope, his uncle, designed to forge a new alliance with France. For François Ier (1494- 1515-1547), the bride’s cousin, the objective was to bring together the royal family of France and the Medici family in order to thwart the ambitions of the Holy Roman Empire. From this brief union (the husband died in Italy in 1519), was born one child, Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), the future wife of Henri II (1519/ 1547/1559).
MADELEINE DE LA TOUR D'AUVERGNE (1495-1519)
Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, born in 1495, was the daughter of Jean IV de la Tour d'Auvergne (1467-1501), Count of Auvergne, and Jeanne of Bourbon (1465-1511).
On the death of her father, she became Countess of Auvergne and inherited one of the largest fortunes in France. She married Lorenzo II de Medici (1492-1519), Duke of Urbino, in 1518 at the Château of Amboise. From this short union, only one child was born: Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), the future wife of Henri II (1519/1547/1559), king of France. She succumbed to a fever in 1519, a few days after the birth of her daughter.
CONNETABLE (CONSTABLE) DEBOURBON
Charles III of Bourbon (1490-1527) was most notably the Duke of Bourbon and of Auvergne. He also held the high office of Constable of France from 1515 to 1521. It was in this role that he featured among the guests at the grand royal celebrations held at Amboise in the spring of 1518 for the dauphin prince’s baptism and the marriage of the Pope’s nephew Lorenzo II de Medici with Madeleine de la Tour-d’Auvergne. He was also made Constable of Bourbon. He entered into conflict with the king’s mother, Louise de Savoie then with the king himself who contested in particular the ownership of several Auvergne properties. Having to flee the royal wrath, he entered into the service of the king’s rival, Emperor Charles V. He died in the latter’s service during the siege of Rome by imperial troops in 1527. His death sparked the incorporation of the Auvergne and Bourbon regions into the royal domain.
MADAME DE CHATEAUBRIANT
Françoise of Foix (1495-1537), was married young to Jean of Laval-Châteaubriant, Count ofChâteaubriant. Celebrated for her beauty, in 1518 she came to court for the first timein Amboise, during the baptism of the dauphin prince François, where her presence was remarked upon by the VIP guests at the royal festivities. This presence, surprising for a lesser member of court, no doubt corresponded to the start of her intimate relationship with the King François Ier. Profiting from her new position in the sovereign’s heart, the Countess of Châteaubriantsupported the rise of her brothers, one of whom was the famous Marshall of Lautrec, and the other Thomas, was also Marshall of France. However the king’s mother Louise de Savoie, a longtime rival of the Foix family, allied to Anne de Bretagne, worked tirelessly to discredit Françoise ofFoixwhile François Ierwas held in captivity (1525). She had to cede her place as favourite when the king of France returned from captivity (1526); from then on the latter preferred Anne of Pisseleu.
CARDINAL DE BOISY
Adrien Gouffierde Boisy (1479-1523), became bishop of Coutances in 1510. He benefited from the favour of King François Ierthanks to the high esteem in which his two brothers, Artus and Guillaume, were held. Thus from 1515, he was named Chaplain General of France by the sovereign, before receiving the cardinal’s purple from the Pope. It was in this role that he featured among the guests at the grand royal festivities held at Amboise in the spring of 1518 for the baptism of the dauphin prince and the marriage of Pope Leo X’s nephew, Lorenzo II de Medici with Madeleine de la Tourd’Auvergne. The following year he was the legate in the kingdom of France for Pope Leo X.
CARDINAL OF BOURGES
Antoine Bohier, known as Du Prat (1462-1519), was named abbot of St. Ouen in Rouen in 1495 thanks to the influence of his oldest brother Thomas, the king of France’s finance minister. In 1499, he became advisor clerk to the Normandy parliament, then abbot of the Fécamp Trinity, then of Issoire in 1505. Nine years later, he was named archbishop of Bourges. Profiting from the position of his cousin Antoine Duprat, Chancellor of France at the French court, he was made a Cardinal by the Pope in 1517. It was in this role that he featured among the guests at the grand royal festivities held at Amboise in the spring of 1518 for the baptism of the dauphin prince and the marriage of Pope Leo X’s nephew Lorenzo II de Medici with Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne.
HENRI 1ER D'ALBRET, KING OF NAVARRE (1503-1555)
Henri I d'Albret, or Henri II of Navarre, (1503-1555) was king of Navarre from 1517 to 1555 as Henri II. Although he held the title of king of Navarre, he only reigned over Lower Navarre, inherited from his mother Catherine of Navarre. Even so, he did not renounce his claim to his entire kingdom, which he disputed with his neighbour King Ferdinand II of Aragon. To this end, he formed an alliance with France. He was thus present alongside King François Ier at Amboise during the baptism of the dauphin prince and the marriage of the Pope’s nephew, Lorenzo II de Medici with Madeleine de la Tourd’Auvergne. He even accompanied François Ierto the battle of Pavia. Taken prisoner, he escaped in 1525. Thanks to the prestige gained by this escape, in 1527 he married the sister of François Ier, Marguerite of Angoulême (1492-1549), widow of Duke Charles IV of Alençon.
Charles IV of Valois, Duke of Alençon (1489 - 1525), was a prince in the house of Valois bloodline, the last representative of the Valois-Alençon line. In 1507, he waged his first campaign in Italy under the orders of Louis XII then once more in 1509 during the battle of Agnadello. He participated in the taking of Bergamo, Caravaggio, Borromeo and Cremona. In 1509, he married Marguerite of Angoulême, the eldest sister of François Ier. Upon the latter’s accession in 1515, he left once more for Italy, and fought alongside his brother-in-law at Marignan. Then in 1521, he defended Champagne against an expedition by Charles V. he fought in Italy again, in Pavia. Upon the king’s capture, he commanded the French army. Afflicted by the defeat, accused of having abandoned the king, he fell ill and died the same year without posterity.
MONSIEUR DE VENDÔME
Charles de Bourbon Count (1495-1514) then Duke of Vendôme (1514-1537),was born on 2nd June 1489 in Vendômeand died on 25th March 1536 in Amiens.
Son of François of Bourbon, Count ofVendôme (1470-1495) and Marie of Luxembourg Saint-Pol, the “descendant of St. Louis” was the grandfather, on the male side, of King Henri IV of France and most notably the ancestor of the Bourbons, the present kings of Spain and the grand duke of Luxembourg.
Having only received bare ownership of his father’s assets and usufruct of his mother’s, it was the latter, who survived him, who governed the county of Vendôme.
Charles cut his military teeth in Italy, in the service of Louis XII. The latter then made the county a dukedom (1514). He fought at Marignanat the head of 70 lancers then participated in the campaign in Flanders. Loyal to François Ier he was named Head of Council when the king was taken prisoner at the battle of Pavia (1525).
The successive deaths of his cousins Charles IV of Alençon (1525) and Charles III of Bourbon (1527) left him fourth in line to the throne, behind the king’s sons, and laid the path for the accession of the Capetian house of Bourbon. Furthermore, after the death of the Constable de Bourbon in 1527, he became the oldest in the house of Bourbon and the second highest person in the land, while the Crown annexed the duchy. He died in Amiens in 1537.
JOHN STEWART (1481 – 1536), 2nd DUKE OF ALBANY, COUNT OF MARCH, REGENT OF SCOTLAND, COUNT OF AUVERGNE AND LAURAGUAIS.
The son ofAlexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, and Anne de laTour-d'Auvergne, John married his cousin Anne de la Tour d’Auvergne in 1505. He became the regent of the young King James V of Scotland on 10th July 1515 after ousting the latter’s mother, Margaret Tudor. An ally of the French, he was the guest of François Ier in Amboise during the festivities organised in the spring of 1518 for the baptism of the dauphin prince and the marriage of Lorenzo II de Medici with Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, his cousin and sister-in-law. Because of his alliance with the king of France, he had to face troubles at home, stirred up by pro-English supporters of the queen mother. He was drawn into the war against England, which from 1522 inflicted upon him a series of military defeats that obliged him to renounce the regency and leave Scotland in 1524. So, he entered the service of the king of France, and participated in François Ier’s disastrous 1525 campaign in Italy. In 1526 he was made a knight of the Order of Saint Michael and named 6th Governor of Auvergne on 28th February 1529, a role he held until 18th May 1536. He died in France at the Château of Mirefleurs in Auvergne, on 2nd July 1536.
ELEANOR OF HABSBURG AND AUSTRIA (1498-1558)
Sister of the Emperor Charles V, her second husband was King François Ier and she became the queen of France, from 1530 to 1547, during which time she accompanied François Ierwhen he stayed at Amboise. When widowed, she received as dowry the duchy of Touraine from 1547 to 1558. She lived her final years in the Netherlands alongside her sister Maria. Then she followed her brother to Spain after his abdication and died one year later at the age of 59.
ANNE BOLEYN (AROUND 1500-1536)
Daughter of Thomas Boleyn (1477-1539), diplomat and politician, and Elizabeth Howard (?-1538), Anne Boleyn was born in England in 1500.
During her youth, she left for France to complete her education. She was close to the Court and in particular Claude de France (1499-1524), wife of François Ier (1494/ 1515/1547) for whom she was a lady-in-waiting. In 1515, she notably accompanied the queen during her visits to Amboise and Blois..
She charmed Henri VIII, king of England and Ireland (1491/ 1509/1547) and married him in 1533. This marriage was behind the reform of the Church of England. Accused of adultery, incest and high treason, she was condemned to death in May 1536. Beheaded a few days later, she left a daughter who became Elizabeth 1st, illustrious queen of England and Ireland (1533/ 1558/1603).
FRANÇOIS OF FRANCE (THE DAUPHIN PRINCE), DUKE OF BRITTANY (1518-1536)
The eldest son of François Ier and Queen Claude of France (1499-1524), he was born on 28th February 1518 at the Château of Amboise, where he was baptised on 25th April 1518, in the presence of the court and representatives from the major European courts. He became Duke of Brittany upon the death of his mother (1524) but did not govern because his father had usufruct over the duchy. He was held hostage in Spain from 1526 to 1530, with his younger brother, Henri, the future Henri II, in exchange for the freedom of his father François Ier. He was crowned Duke of Brittany under the name of François III following the union of the duchy of Brittany with the kingdom of France in 1532. François died prematurely in 1536.
CHARLES OF HABSBURG, KNOWN AS CHARLES QUINT OR CHARLES V, KING OF SPAIN, EMPEROR OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE, KING OF NAPLES, SICILY AND JERUSALEM (1500/ 1516-1519/1558)
Charles of Habsburg, born in 1500, was the son of Philippe “the Handsome”, king consort of Castile (1478- 1506) and Joanna of Castile, known as “the Mad” queen of Castile and Aragon, Sicily and Naples (1479/ 1504/1555). The heir to four dynasties, as a result of his forebears’ matrimonial alliances, he was the great grandson of Charles the Bold, the last Duke of Burgundy, (1433-1477), the grandson of Maximilian I of Habsburg, most notably emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1459- 1508/1519), and the grandson of the “Catholic Kings”, Isabella I, queen of Castile (1451/ 1474-1504) and Ferdinand II, king of Aragon (1452/ 1479/1516). The empire over which Charles V reigned was described as one on which “the sun never sets”. He dominated Spain, and its American vice-royalties, Naples, Sicily, the duchy of Burgundy, the Spanish Netherlands, Flanders and the Holy Roman Empire. At the head of this immense empire, Charles V dreamt of recreating the Carolingian empire. However his ambitions were thwarted by the Ottoman expansion in the Balkans, the opposition of the king of France, François Ier (from whom he still took the imperial crown in 1519), and his successor Henri II as well as the rise of the powerful Lutheran opposition. Having captured François Ierat the battle of Pavia (1525), Charles agreed to free the former in exchange for the imprisonment of his sons and the marriage (1530) of his sister Eleanor of Austria (1498-1558) with the sovereign of France. He took advantage of the period of entente with the king of France to cross the kingdom of France in 1539, during which he stayed at the Château of Amboise. His convoy narrowly escaped a fire in the Heurtault tower’s cavalry ramp. In the final years of his life, he gradually divested his powers in favour of his heirs before dying in 1558.
HENRI II, KING OF FRANCE (1519/ 1547/1559) :
The second son of François Ier and Claude de France, he became heir to the throne upon the death of his older brother François in 1536. Once crowned king in 1547, like his predecessors, he waged war in Italy with a certain success. He had a new loggia built at the Château of Amboise designed to provide apartments for the royal children. He stayed at the château at least twice after his accession: from 6th April to 5th May 1551 and from 6th March to 24th April 1556. After having successively reined in the empire of Charles V (1500/ 1516-1519/1558), the final years of his reign were marked with defeats that put a definitive end to French ambitions on the Italian peninsula. Henri II was less tolerant than his father about the rapidly expanding Protestant movement. His repressive policies further stoked religious tensions. The conflict ignited after his death and led to the Wars of Religion. He died accidentally during a tournament in Paris in 1559, wounded by a lance.
CATHERINE DE MEDICI, QUEEN OF FRANCE (1519-1589) :
The daughter of Lorenzo II de Medici (1492-1519) and Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne (1495- 1519) – married at Amboise in 1518 – she was born in Florence.
She married the youngest son of François Ier, Henri, the future Henri II, in 1533,then became queen upon the death of François Ier. The mother of three future kings of France, she governed the kingdom under the titles of ‘Queen Mother’ of the future kings of France, François II, Charles IX and Henri III,and ‘Regent’. Originally from Italy and passionate about the arts, she imported “Italian taste” to France and became one of the greatest 16th century patrons. Despite the policy of appeasement that she advocated, Catherine de Medici was often at the mercy of factions, above all concerned with preserving the royal primacy. History remembers her ambivalent role during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, in 1572, which makes her a dark legend in French history.
His stays at the Royal Castle of Amboise: :
1540: 6th April; 1551: 1st May; 1560: 18th to 27th March; 24th April; 1562: 5th April; 1563: 7th to 12th April; 1569: 10th to 19th August; 1571: 2nd November; 16th to 28th December; 1572: 2nd January to 6th February; 5th April; 1575: 25th October; 1577: 19th January; 19th April; 20th October.
Dates of stay established from correspondence and royal acts. Source: www.cour-defrance.fr database
FRANÇOIS II, KING OF FRANCE (1544/ 1559/1560)
The eldest son of Henri II and Catherine de Medici, François succeeded his father under the name François II in 1559. He married Mary Stuart, daughter of the king of Scotland, in 1558. His reign, one of the shortest in history, was the prelude to the launch of the Wars of Religion. In 1560, he sought refuge at the Château of Amboise upon learning of a plot designed to remove him from the influence of his in-laws, the Guise, the heads of the Catholic movement. The “Amboise Conspiracy”, which ended with the execution of the Huguenotplotters, marked the start of a major political and religious crisis in the French kingdom. Of a weak constitution since birth, he died after a testing 17-month reign in 1560.
Séjours au château royal d’Amboise :
1559: 29th to 30th November; 1560: 22nd February to 1st April; 24th to 26th April.
Dates of stay established from correspondence and royal acts. Source: www.cour-defrance.fr database
MARY 1ST, KNOWN AS MARY STUART, QUEEN OF SCOTLAND (1542/ 1559/1587)
Mary Stuart, born in 1542, was the daughter of James V, king of Scotland (1512/ 1513/1542) and Marie of Guise, (1515-1560). She became Queen of Scotland a few days after her birth, and was also the dauphin princess of France through her marriage to François of France (1544/ 1559/1560), the future François II, in 1558. She became queen of France the following year, upon the death of Henri II (1519- 1547-1559), and accompanied her husband when he stayed at the Château of Amboise. Most notably, she resided there in March 1560 during the days of the “Amboise Conspiracy”. However François II died 17 months after he was crowned. The queen left France for good after her husband’s death in 1561.
She discovered a Scotland divided by the religious question. In 1568, she fled to England to escape her Scottish enemies but was imprisoned by her cousin Elizabeth 1st of England and Ireland (1533- 1558-1603). After 18 years of captivity, accused of plotting against Elizabeth, the queen of England and Ireland condemned her to death. Mary was beheaded in 1587.
FRANÇOIS IER OF LORRAINE, 2ND DUKE OF GUISE (1519-1563)
The eldest son of Claude of Lorraine, 1st Duke of Guise, François II of Guise was also the brother of Marie of Guise (mother of Mary Stuart of Scotland) and Charles of Guise (the future Cardinal of Lorraine). Upon the death of King Henri II , he became head of the Catholic movement, seeking a firm stand against reformed religion. With his brother Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine, he officially took over as head of the kingdom’s government, profiting from his influence over his niece Mary Stuart and her husband the young king of France François II. The two brothers were the main protagonists of the repression of the Amboise Conspiracy. On the 17th March 1560, King François II made the Duke of Guise lieutenant general of the kingdom. However, in December 1560,upon the death of King François II, his mother Catherine de Medici, obtained the regency of the kingdom and led a policy of tolerance towards the reformers. The Duke of Guise and his followers, opposed to this policy, moved away from the court and from power. François nevertheless pursued repressive activities in his own territories. On 1st March 1562, he was behind the massacre at Wassy. As commander of the king’s army, the same year the duke subdued the Huguenots in Rouen, then Dreux,and tried to retake Orléans, where he finally died on 18th February 1563.
CHARLES OF GUISE, CARDINAL OF LORRAINE (1524- 1574)
Although initially open to discussion and church reform, he supported the policies of the chancellor Michel de l'Hospital, while painting himself as a champion of the Catholic cause. With his brother François, Duke of Guise, he ran France under the reign of François II (1559-1560) and took part in the repression of the Amboise Conspiracy. He participated in the Colloquy atPoissy (1561), then the Council of Trent (1563). Upon the death of his brother François (1563), he became head of the house of Guise and for the rest of his career opposed the policies of Catherine de Medici.
JEAN DU BARRY, LORD OF THE RENAUDIE (?-1560)
Upon the accession of King François II, this Protestant nobleman from Périgord became the main instigator of the Amboise Conspiracy. He gathered together other noblemen from across France, like the Baron Charles deCastelnau-Tursan, François Bouchard d'Aubeterre, Edme deFerrière-Maligny (younger brother of Jean II deFerrières), Captain Mazères, Captain Sainte-Marie, Captain Lignières, Captain deCocqueville, Jean d'Aubigné (father of Agrippad'Aubigné), Ardoin des Porcelets de Maillane, François deBarbançon, Charles de La Garaye.
La Renaudiewas killed on 19th March 1560 during a skirmish in the Château-Renault forest.
His body was cut into five pieces and exhibited “as an example” on the gates of Amboise.
FRANÇOIS III BOUCHARD D'AUBETERRE (1522-1573)
Lord of Aubeterre, Saint-Martin de la Coudre, in Saintonge, the Protestant nobleman was in contact with Calvin. He sold his land to organise the Amboise Conspiracy. Taken prisoner and condemned to death after a speedy trial, he owed his life, according to Brantôme, to the intervention of Jacques of Albon, Marshal of Saint-André. His assets were confiscated, with the support of the Guise, and handed over to this marshal. He exiled himself to Geneva, where he made his living making buttons. He was assassinated in his bed one year after the St. Bartholomew massacre.
CHARLES IX, KING OF FRANCE (1550/ 1560/1574)
Charles was the son of Henri II He spent some of his childhood at Amboise where he also stayed after his accession on 19th March 1563. The younger brother of François II who died without descendants, he succeeded him on the throne in 1560. As the king was only 10 years old, his mother governed for him. His reign was marred by the Wars of Religion, which reached their zenith with the St Bartholomew massacre in 1572. He also died without a legitimate heir at the age of 24, thus ceding the throne to his brother Henri.
HENRI III, KING OF FRANCE (1551/ 1574/1589) :
The fourth son ofHenri II et de Catherine de Medici, he spent part of his childhood at Amboise. Henri was not logically destined to reign. So, he put himself forward for Poland’s vacant throne. Elected in 1573, his reign lasted only one year because the death of his elder brother, Charles IX (1550/ 1560/1574), called him back to France. He succeeded Charles under the name Henri III in 1574.
Favorable à une politique de conciliation, il est assassiné par un moine manipulé par la Ligue, le parti catholique. Il meurt également sans descendance, ouvrant une nouvelle crise de succession.
His stays at the Royal Castle of Amboise: :
1569 (11th to 16th August); 1571 (15th to 26th December); 1572 (8th to 20th January); 1577 (18th to 20th April; 14th to 18th October).
Dates of stay established from correspondence and royal acts. Source: www.cour-defrance.fr database
MARGUERITE OF FRANCE (1553-1615), FUTURE QUEEN MARGOT
The seventh child of the king of France Henri II et de Catherine de Medici, she spent part of her childhood at Amboise, chaperoned by a governess tasked with instilling discipline in her. Little is known about her education, except that she learnt Italian, Spanish and Latin and showed a growing taste for literature. In her Mémoires, she detailed her worries with regard to her mother. The latter was very hard on her when she learnt of her leanings, age 17, for Henri de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, head of the Catholic movement. Queen Catherine had many other potential matches for her and thus negotiations were undertaken, in vain, to marry her to Rudolf, the son of the Emperor Maximilian, then with the young king of Portugal Sebastian I. Faced with the religious troubles at the heart of her own kingdom, Catherine resolved to accept the marriage of her daughter with the head of the Protestant movement, Henri, king of Navarre, in 1572. Upon the death of her brother Henri III, her husband ascended the throne in 1589. However, she was only briefly queen of France and Navarre because her marriage was annulled in 1599.
HENRI IV, KING OF FRANCE AND NAVARRE (1553/ 1589/1610)
Son of Jeanne III of Navarre (1528/ 1555/1572) and Antoine of Bourbon, he became king of Navarre upon the death of his mother in 1572, then of France and Navarre from 1589. He was the first monarch from the Bourbon family line and the Capetian dynasty. He stayed at the Château of Amboise twice, in 1598 and 1602. The start of Henri’s reign was marked by strong opposition from the Catholic movement to his accession to the French throne. In fact, Henri of Bourbon was of Protestant denomination. He was forced to convert in order to assume the crown of the Catholic kingdom of France and succeed his distant cousin, Henri III. He led a policy of peace and signed the Edict of Nantes (1589), which recognised the freedom of Protestants and put an end to 20 years of war. However, he was assassinated in Paris by Ravaillac.
LOUIS XIII, KING OF FRANCE AND NAVARRE (1601/ 1610/1643)
The son of Henri IV and Marie de Medici (1575-1642), he succeeded his father in 1610. His mother oversaw the regency. He asserted his authority in 1617 and distanced his mother from power. He stayed at Amboise on several occasions: In 1615; April 1616; 1617; 1619 and 1620. He kept Cardinal Richelieu close (1585-1642), making him principal minister. Most notably, the latter ordered the destruction of the Medieval keep, which occupied pride of place in the courtyard at the Château of Amboise. His reign was marked by conflicts with the Protestants. Outside France’s borders, he was nevertheless quick to ally himself to powerful Protestants to thwart the power of the house of Habsburg during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).
ANNE OF AUSTRIA, QUEEN OF FRANCE AND NAVARRE (1601-1666)
Born in Spain in 1602, Anneof Austria was the daughter of King Philippe III of Spain (1578/1598/1621). She married the young Louis XIII (1601/1610/1643) in 1615. This union was above all political because Maria de Medici (1575-1642), mother of the king and regent of the kingdom, wanted to guarantee peace with the Habsburgs of Spain. Upon the death of Louis XIII in 1643, she became regent of France and governed the kingdom with her favourite minister, Cardinal Mazarin (1601-1661). Very unpopular, they had to face the Fronde revolt from 1648 to 1653. So, they left Paris to reconquer the kingdom, during which time, in 1650, they stayed at Amboise. In fact, during Mass, the queen lost consciousness and was immediately taken to the Château. She remained there for several days before being well enough to travel on. Upon the death of Jules Mazarin, her son Louis XIV (1638/1643/1715) personally took over the reins of power and Anne of Austria voluntarily left the government.
GASTON OF FRANCE OR GASTON OF ORLÉANS (1608-1660) :
The third son of King Henri IV and brother of King Louis XIII, Gaston of France received the Château of Amboise as a privilege in 1627. Planned maintenance work at the château was abandoned because of Gaston of Orléans' opposition to Louis XIII, which forced him to flee in 1631. The king’s first minister, Richelieu, ordered the taking of the château, then the partial demolition of its fortifications. Having returned to his brother’s favour three years later, he visited Amboise in November 1637. The state of disrepair of his residence dissuaded him from ever sleeping there. Upon his death in 1660, the château was returned to the crown.
LOUIS XIV, KING OF FRANCE AND NAVARRE (1638/ 1643/1715)
Louis-Dieudonnéwas the long-awaited son of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. Succeeding his father at the age of five, the regency was assured by his mother who rapidly had to face the Fronde (1648-1653). This was when the young Louis-Dieudonnéstayed for the first time at the Château of Amboise, then in November 1660.
He got rid of his main ministers in 1661, upon the death of Mazarin, and personally took over the running of the kingdom’s affairs. His reign, the longest in French history, was marked by the absolutism of the royal divine right. He staged all his actions in his Château of Versailles in order to control the aristocracy, too ready to plot in their provinces.
On the domestic front, he reformed the kingdom and created a centralised state with the help of his ministers Colbert (1619-1683), thenLouvois (1641-1691). In 1685, he also revoked the Edict of Nantes, signed by his grandfather Henri IV (1553/ 158/-1610).
Outside France’s borders, he worked on enhancing the majesty of France and weakening the Habsburgs. In particular, he led, with some success, the War of Devolution between 1667 and 1668. However, he came out of the War of Spanish Succession between 1697 and 1714 considerably weakened. Throughout his reign, Louis XIV surrounded himself with the most brilliant artists of his time, like Molière (1622-1673), Racine (1639-1699), La Fontaine (1621-1695), Lully (1632-1687), Le Brun (1619-1690) and Le Nôtre (1613-1700).
PHILIPPE DUKE OF ANJOU, THEN PHILIPPE V, KING OF SPAIN, SICILY, NAPLES AND SARDINIA AND SOVEREIGN OF THE NETHERLANDS (1683/1700-1724/1746)
Philippe of France, Duke of Anjou,was the grandson of Louis XIV (1638/1643/1715) and the second son of the “Grand Dauphin” (1661-1711). The nephew of Charles II (1661/1665/1700), king of Spain, he claimed the throne in the middle of a succession crisis. After a gruelling war for the kingdoms of France and Spain, he succeeded Charles II, the last king of the Habsburg dynasty on the peninsula and became the first Bourbon king of Spain.
To reach Madrid and assume the crown, the young Philippe of Anjou passed the Château of Amboise where he stayed from the 11th to 13th December 1700. After a 45-year reign, the longest for a Spanish monarch to date, he died in Madrid in 1746.
CHARLES DE BATZ OF CASTELMORE, KNOWN AS D’ARTAGNAN (BETWEEN 1611 AND 1615-1673)
Charles de Batz ofCastelmore, born between 1611 and 1615, came from a small aristocratic family in the Midi-Pyrénées.
He arrived in Paris in 1635, and three years later became one of the king’s musketeers. In the years that followed his service record is vague. It is likely that he fought in Lorraine or in Flanders. In 1646, a letter certified that he was in the service of Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), cardinal and first minister of the regent Anne of Austria (1601-1666), mother of Louis XIV. During the Fronde, he supported and defended the royal family against the “Key Players” of the kingdom in rebellion. After Mazarin’s death, and Louis XIV taking over power personally in 1661, he was of use to the king on several occasions. Most notably, he escorted the disgraced Nicolas Fouquet (1615-1680) to the Château of Amboise in December 1661. Always loyal to the Sun King, d'Artagnanfought during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-1678) and was killed during the siege of Maastricht in 1673.
NICOLAS FOUQUET (1615-1680)
The heir to a great aristocratic family, Nicolas Fouquet became superintendent of finances in 1653.
His responsibilities afforded him considerable power and fortune. He became a great patron of the arts and surrounded himself with great artists who worked in particular on the grandeur of his château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. He also organised grandiose festivities there in 1661, which annoyed King Louis XIV. The latter had Fouquet deposed and then arrested. Fouquet was condemned to confiscation of his assets and exile, communicated to life imprisonment for embezzlement. Voltaire wrote about his fall from grace: “On 7th August at 6pm, Fouquet was the king of France; by 2am he was nothing”.
On the way to prison, Nicolas Fouquet stayed at the Château of Amboise where he was kept in the dungeon from 4th to 16th December 1661. He died in 1680, in Pinerolo, Italy.
JEAN DE LA FONTAINE (1621-1695)
Jean de La Fontaine was from a wealthy Picardy family. After years of education, about which little is known, he entered the service of Nicolas Fouquet (1615-1680) in 1658. The latter’s arrest forced La Fontaine to leave Paris. This is when he made a pilgrimage to the Château of Amboise in 1663 in order to gather his thoughts at the prison of his former patron and friend. In his letter dated 30th August 1663, describing the Loire seen from the Château of Amboise, he wrote, “What is beautiful is the view, is it grand, majestic, of an immense scope; the eye finds nothing to stop it;nothing that does not provide enormous pleasure”. From 1664, he returned to Paris and his work was remarked upon at Court. His immense talents as a writer, poet, dramatist and fabulist were finally recognised and his famous “Fables” won favour with the kingdom’s intellectuals. In 1695, after a session at the French Academy, he collapsed with exhaustion and died.
ÉTIENNE-FRANÇOIS DE CHOISEUL, DUKE OF CHOISEUL (1719-1785) :
From an aristocratic French family, Etienne-François de Choiseul had a glittering military career. After making his name during his diplomatic career and thanks to his relationship with Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), he climbed the rungs to the top of the state. He rose to become the first minister of Louis XV (1710/1715/1774) until his disgrace in 1770. After which he left the Court at Versailles and retired to his lands in Amboise and Chante loup.
A big lover of the Arts, the century’s great minds visited him at Chanteloupuntil his death in 1785.
LOUIS-JEAN-MARIE DE BOURBON, DUKE OF PENTHIÈVRE (1725-1793)
Son of the Count of Toulouse (1678-1737), from the legitimate line of Louis XIV (1638/1643/1715) and Madame de Montespan(1640-1707), Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, Duke ofPenthièvre,took over his father’s civil and military responsibilities as Master of the Royal Hounds and Admiral of France, in 1737. He made his name fighting in the famous battle of Fontenoy in 1745, and Dettingen in 1753.
When the Revolution broke out, he was more favourable to the evolution of the regime towards a constitutional monarchy He bought the Château of Amboise in 1786. He was also named commander of the National Guard at Amboise and took an oath of loyalty to the nation and the king. However, the murder of his daughter-in-law, the Princess of Lamballe (1749-1792) by the ‘sans-culottes’ revolutionaries darkened his final days, although he still refused to leave France. He died shortly afterwards. His assets were then confiscated and his family members arrested.
ROGER DUCOS (1747-1816)
A law student in Toulouse in 1788, he helped to compile the Register of Grievances for the town of Dax. He climbed steadily up the rungs of the revolutionary administration and was elected to the Convention. He voted for the death of Louis XVI (1754/1774/1793) on 20th January 1793. Under the Directory, he was a member of the Council of Elders between 1795 and 1798. In favour of Napoléon Bonaparte (1769/1804-1814-1815/1821) and a friend of the abbot Sieyès (1748-1836), he gave his support to the Coup d'État of 18 Brumaire in the Year VIII – 9th November 1799. He was named Provisional Consul in 1799, swiftly replaced by Charles-François Lebrun (1738-1824). He was finally rewarded for his services, the First Consul offered him the Château of Amboise in 1803 and made him a count of the Empire in 1808 then Peer of Franceduring theHundred Days, in June 1815. Exiled to Germany for having voted for the death of the king in 1793, he died an accidental death in 1816.
LOUISE-MARIE-ADELAIDE D'ORLÉANS, DUCHESS OF ORLÉANS (1753-1821)
Born in Paris, Louise-Marie-Adelaide d'Orléans, Duchess of Chartres then of Orléans from 1785, was the only surviving heir of Louis-Jean-Marie of Bourbon, Duke ofPenthièvre (1725-1793). Her marriage to Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1747-1793), the head of the younger line of the royal family, was celebrated at Versailles en 1769. The couple had six children, in particular Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1773/1830-1848/1850), future French king. Widow of the Duke d'Orléans, better known by his name “Philippe-Égalité” (Philippe Equality), who was guillotined in November 1793, she was locked up in Luxembourg prison. All her assets were then seized. She was forced into exile in 1797 by a decree that required the Bourbons to leave the French territory. She lived in Spain until the first abdication of Emperor Napoleon I (1769/1804-1814-1815/1821). Upon her return to France in 1814, she recovered her assets, including the Château of Amboise. After painful death throes, she died in 1821.
LOUIS-PHILIPPE D'ORLÉANS THEN LOUIS-PHILIPPE IER, KING OF THE FRENCH (1773/1830-1848/1850)
The eldest son of Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1747-1793) and Louise-Marie-Adelaide d'Orléans, Louis Philippe d'Orléanswas born in Paris in 1773.
A young man during the Revolution, he was in favour of certain revolutionary ideas. He even entered the Jacobins Club and participated in the battle of Valmy in 1791. However, the accusations against his father, the regicide of “Philippe-Egalité”, by the revolutionary tribunal forced him into exile. Until the end of the Empire, Louis-Philippe travelled Europe and even left for the United States of America in 1796.
When the Bourbons returned to the throne, he came back to France and embodied the opposition to the ultra royalists. Upon the death of his mother Louise-Marie-Adelaide d'Orléans in 1821, he began renovations to turn the Château of Amboise into aholiday destination. These works were entrusted to the renowned architect Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853) and his student, Pierre-Bernard Lefranc (1795-1856). When the 1830 Revolution chased Charles X (1757-1836) from power, Louis-Philippe was proclaimed king of the French by the Chamber of Deputies. His reign represented a significant turning point in the concept of royalty in France since he agreed to play the parliamentary game. He governed a kingdom in the midst of social, economic and political change. King Louis-Philippe 1er was an ardent defender of French heritage, supporting the classification of monuments emblematic of the national history, at the top of which features Amboise, listed since 1840. The impoverishment caused by the industrial revolution and the rising power of republican elites led to the July Monarchy, swept aside by the Revolution in February 1848.
Forced to abdicate, Louis-Philippe was exiled to the United Kingdom, welcomed by Queen Victoria. He died in Claremont House in 1850.
EMIR ABD EL-KADER (1808-1883)
Abd el-Kader ben Muhieddine was born in Algeria in 1808. Raised in a well-read family in the Algerian countryside, he very quickly developed an insatiable curiosity and a huge intellectual capacity. As a young man, he became involved in the resistance to French colonisation. He created a permanent military force to oppose the Frenchtroops. Forced to surrender to General Lamoricière in 1847, he promised to raise arms against France no more. The political instability in France at that time compromised his position. He was then incarcerated at the Château of Amboise the following year. He was freed four years later by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (1809/1852-1870/1873),then Prince-Président, who went in person to deliver the French authorities’ ruling in 1847. The Emir embarked for Turkey, then Syria where he devoted his final years to meditation and teaching. Until his last breath, he was a constant defender of the universal values of tolerance and humanism. He passed away in Damascus in 1883.
LOUIS-NAPOLÉON BONAPARTE OR NAPOLÉON III, EMPEROR OF THE FRENCH (1809/1852-1870/1873)
Louis-Napoléon Bonapartewas the son of Louis Bonaparte (1778/1806/1846), king of Holland and younger brother of Napoléon I (1769/1804-1814-1815/1821), and Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837), queen consort of Holland and daughter of Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763-1814), first wife of Napoléon I. Exiled with his mother after the fall of Napoléon I in 1815, he travelled a great deal and showed himself open to liberal ideas. After several failed coups d'État, which landed him in prison, he was elected president of the Republic in 1848. Three years later, in conflict with a conservative parliament which opposed his re-election, he organised a coup d'État, widely supported by the French and re-established the Empire. He came to Amboise a few weeks before to informEmir Abd-el-Kader of his liberation.
The rigidity of his regime softened and got progressively more liberal. With the 1870 constitutional reform, the Second Empire had almost all the characteristics of a parliamentary regime. Sensitive to social matters, Napoléon III supported the strong economic growth generated by the industrial revolution and took measures to improve living and working conditions for workers. With the help of the prefect Georges Eugène Haussmann (1809-1891) he modernised Paris and most notably authorised the right to strike in 1864. The end of the reign was marked by failures in foreign policy and the inexorable rise in power of the Prussian Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) in Europe. The war that broke out between France and the Prussian kingdom in 1870 and the defeat at Sedan a few months later brought an end to the Empire. In September 1870, the Republic was proclaimed in Paris. A prisoner of the Prussians, then exiled to the United Kingdom, Louis-Napoléon died near London in 1873.
FERDINAND-PHILIPPE D'ORLÉANS, DUKE OF ORLÉANS (1810-1842)
Born in 1810, Ferdinand-Philippe d'Orléans was the eldest son of Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1773/1830-1848/1850), the future Louis-Philippe I and Marie-Amélie of Bourbon (1782-1866), princess of the Two Sicilies. The prince received a liberal education at the Henri-IV college then embraced a military career. He made a name for himself in particular with his management of the 1831 workers’ uprising in Lyon. He was definitely a popular figure in French public opinion. He also took part in the colonisation campaigns in Algeria. He stayed in Amboise during the restoration work commissioned by his father. In 1837, he married Hélène ofMecklembourg-Schwerin (1814-1858),with whom he had two children. Victim of an accident in a horse-drawn carriage, he died prematurely at the age of 32.
HÉLÈNE OF MECKLEMBOURG-SCHWERIN, DUCHESS OF ORLÉANS (1814-1858)
Hélène of Mecklembourg-Schwerin, born in 1814, was the daughter of Frederick (1778-1819), grand duke of Mecklembourg-Schwerin, and Caroline of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1786-1816). In 1837, the princess married the eldest son of Louis-Philippe I (1773-1830-1850), king of the French, Ferdinand-Philippe of Orléans, Duke of Chartres (1810-1842). They had a happy marriage until the tragic death of the latter in 1842. She stayed at the Château of Amboise several times.
Just like the rest of the royal family, she left France with her children when the 1848 Revolution broke out. She died ten years later in England. A popular princess, she was known in France for popularising the German tradition of Christmas trees.
FRANÇOIS D'ORLÉANS, PRINCE DE JOINVILLE (1818-1900)
Born in 1818, François d'Orléanswas the seventh child of Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1773/1830-1848/1850) the future Louis-Philippe I and Marie-Amélie of Bourbon (1782-1866), princess of the Two Sicilies.
Like his brothers, he studied at the Henri-IV college and chose a military career. He joined the navy and travelled the oceans of the world, while climbing the rungs of his naval career. In 1840, as commander of the Frigate La Belle Poule, his father tasked him with accompanying the transfer of Emperor Napoléon I’s ashes (1769/1804-1814-1815/1821) from the island of Saint Helena to the HôtelRoyal des Invalides in Paris. In 1843, he married Françoise of Braganza (1824-1898), daughter of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil. The 1848 Revolution forced the couple into exile. They travelled a great deal. He bravely participated in the war of Secession (1861-1865) alongside the Union armies and clandestinely fought in France against the Prussians in 1870. He died in Paris in 1900.
HENRI D'ORLÉANS, DUKE OF AUMALE (1822-1897)
Born in 1822, Henri d'Orléanswas the ninth child of Louis-Philippe d'Orléans (1773/1830-1848/1850), the future Louis-Philippe I and Marie-Amélie of Bourbon (1782-1866), princess of the Two Sicilies. He was best known by his title, Duke of Aumale. He inherited the large fortune of his great-uncle and patron, the Prince of Condé.
Like his brothers, he spent his younger years at the Henri-IV college and began a military career at 16. Most notably, he fought in Algeria where he enjoyed his greatest military success: the capture of the Abd-el-Kader’s tribe (1808-1883) in 1843. He then became governor general of Algeria in 1847.
In 1844, he married Marie-Caroline of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies, his first cousin. Like all the family, the couple left France following the 1848 Revolution and went into exile in England. He returned to France in 1872 and restarted his military career, pursuing in parallel his passion for collecting. In 1886, he created the ‘SociétéCivile du Domaine de Dreux’ (Dreux Domain Civil Heritage Society), which included in its patrimony the Château of Amboise. He died in Sicily in 1897. With no direct descendant, he bequeathed a large part of his immense heritage, including the Château of Chantilly, to the Institut de France.
FRANÇOISE OF BRAGANZA, PRINCESS OF BRAZIL, PRINCESS OF JOINVILLE (1824-1898)
Françoise of Braganza, born in 1824, was the daughter of Pedro I (1798/1822/1834), emperor of Brazil and Maria Leopoldina of Austria (1797-1826). She was also the sister of Maria II (1819/1828-1834/1853), queen of Portugal and of Pedro II (1825/1831/1891), emperor of Brazil.
In 1843, she married François d'Orléans 1818-1900), prince of Joinville and youngest son of Louis-Philippe I (1773/1830-1848/1850), king of the French. As a member of the royal family, she fled France for the United Kingdom and Claremont House when the 1848 Revolution broke out. She returned to France during the Second Empire. Françoise of Braganza died in Paris in 1898.
HENRI D'ORLÉANS, COUNT OF PARIS (1908-1999)
Henri d'Orléanswas born in France in 1908. He became Count of Paris in 1929 and laid claim to the throne of France upon the death of his father in 1940. When war was declared, the Count of Paris enlisted in the Foreign Legion. He then fought on French soil under an assumed name because of the 1886 exile law, which forbade him to be in France. He chose the name “Orliac” like his ancestor the Duke of Aumale (1822-1897) during the 1870 war. After the debacle and the armistice, he profited from the political chaos to promote the idea of a monarchy.
In 1950, the exile law was abolished and the Orléansfamily could return to French soil. He was closely interested in French politics, cherishing the idea of the restoration of the monarchy. He retired completely from political life after the departure of General de Gaulle (1890-1970). He then devoted himself entirely to the management and preservation of the family’s historic heritage by creating, in 1974, the ‘Fondation Saint-Louis’(St. Louis Foundation). Today, the foundation owns the Château of Amboise, the Royal Chapel at Dreux, the Château of Bourbon-l'Archambault, the Notre-Dame-de-la-Compassion chapeland the Princes de Condé column at Saint-Leu-la-forêt.