Chateau de Chenonceau History – Top 10 Interesting Facts!
Chateau de Chenonceau is sometimes called the Ladies Castle by some historians due to feminine figures having greatly influenced the construction and development of this French Chateau over the centuries.
Chateau de Chenonceau sits proudly on the shores of the river Cher magnificently reflecting its splendor in the waters of the river. The architectural beauty is not its only attraction and is complemented with great landscape surroundings, parks and, more importantly, the rarest art pieces painted by some of the most famous artists like Rubens, Van Loo, Rigaud and Nattier, just to name a few.
Let’s go back into Chateau de Chenonceau’s history and learn some of the most interesting facts connected with this Chateau:
1. The first historical mentioning of the Chateau de Chenonceau dates back to the 11th century when the first Lord of Chenonceau constructed a fortified estate at the shores of river Cher.
2. The Chenonceau manor was burnt down in 1411 as a punishment of Marque family for a political crime and later rebuilt.
3. Chateau de Chenonceau that we know today was officially built in 1513 by Charles XVIII of France who used his wife Catherine Briconnet’s great taste in constructing one of the most beautiful and recognizable Castles in French history. Catherine Briconnet found great joy in entertaining royal guests and noblemen on the grounds of this spectacular Chateau.
4. 1547 became a historical year for Chateau de Chenonceau when just another distinguished woman gained full control of the palace and its development. King Francis I of France presented the Chateau to his mistress Diane de Poitiers who instantly fell in love with this spectacular place. Diane de Poitiers ordered to construct a bridge to connect the Palace with the opposite bank of the Cher River. Exquisite flower and vegetable gardens were carved into the luxurious landscaping of the Chateau.
5. In 1559 Catherine de’ Medici had Diane de Poitiers forced out of the Chateau establishing her own primal residence there. Catherine de’ Medici greatly contributed to the splendor and luxury of the Chateau de Chenonceau by adding more landscaping and gardens.
6. Upon Catherine de’Medici’s death in 1589 Chateau de Chenonceau was passed over to her daughter-in-law, Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont. Unfortunately, the Palace did not bring any happiness to her as she was informed of her husband’s (King Henry III) assassination behind the walls of the Chateau and lost her mind following the tragic incident. She was seen aimlessly wandering around the Chateau somberly clad in dark attires.
7. Gabrielle d’Estrées being a mistress of was King Henry IV was granted full ownership of Chateau de Chenonceau in 1624. For the following hundred years the Palace changed owners frequently.
8. Duke of Burbon purchased the Chateau de Chenonceau in 1720 eventually resulting in its dilapidation. A great deal of statues and art pieces were sold and eventually ended up in Versailles Chateau.
9. One of the most significant Chateau’s restoration campaigns was initiated after a squire Claude Dupin purchased the estate for his wife, Madame Louise Dupin. Madame Dupin restored the Chateau to its former splendor and was very fond of entertaining important intellectuals at that time like Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Buffon, Montesquieu and many more. Madame Dupin was able to preserve the Chateau during devastating French Revolution.
10. Chateau de Chenonceau had seen a lot during two major wars (WWI and WWII), however the largest degree of damage was done during the 1940 Cher River flooding. A young agronomist Bernard Voisin was in charge of a complete Chateau’s restoration starting in 1951 and was able to bring life back to the Palace and its adjacent lands.
Next time you travel France, make sure to include Chateau de Chenonceau along with Chateau Chambord that are considered the most visited Palaces in France after Versailles Chateau.