Château d’Amboise, Loire River Valley, France
Another beautiful castle in the Loire River Valley of France is Château d’Amboise shown above on this current postcard sent by my French friend last summer. The card is a Editions Valoire – Estel – Bois, imprimé en C.E.E., Production LECONTE. At the upper right corner is the Amboise coat of arms.
Placed on the eastern frontier of Angevins holdings Château d’Amboise is strategically placed on a spur above the Loire River and first built in the 9th century. Improvements and expansions occurred over time as the ownership of the castle descended through the family of Fulk the Red for several generations.
A failed plot against Louis XI of France by Louis d’Ambroise resulted in the castle being seized by Charles VII of France in 1434. Amboise’s life was spared but the château became royal property as a result. Charles VII did extensive rebuilding of the palace using the French late Gothic Flamboyant style. An interesting trivia note, Charles died at Château d’Amboise in 1498 after he hit his head on a door lintel.
The château was a favorite of French kings from Louis XI to Francis I who was raised at Amboise by his mother, Louise of Savoy. During the first few years of his reign the château reached the peak of its glory. Leonardo da Vinci visited in 1515 and used an underground passage that connected the castle with the nearby Clos Lucé. Mary Stuart, the child queen of Scotland, who was promised in marriage to the future French Francis II was raised here by Henry II and his wife Catherine de’ Medici along with their children.
A gruesome chapter in the history of the castle came in 1560 during the French Wars of Religion when a conspiracy by Huguenot House of Bourbon against the House of Guise was uncovered and stifled resulting in the hanging of 1200 Protestants who were hung from the town walls on iron hooks that were used to hold pennants and tapestries on festive occasions. The smell of the corpses led to the abandonment of the town. It never returned to royal favor as a residence but was turned into a prison for a period of time. During the French Revolution it was all but demolished. During World War II it was further damaged. Today a descendant of Louis-Philippe, the comte de Paris, repairs and maintains the castle through the Fondation Saint-Louis. The French Ministry of Culture has recognized it as a monument historique since 1840.
With my thanks to my friend, as always, for sharing the postcard and the photos below of the château grounds.
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[Note: This Thursday postcard is a couple of days late due to the Thanksgiving holiday.]