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
French Ministry of Culture since 1840. The Château
Amboise is situated at an elevation of 81 meters.
1.2 Royal residence
3 See also
5 Further reading
6 External links
The château seen from the south
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 there.
In the late 9th century
Ingelgarius was made viscount of Orléans
and through his mother was related to Hugh the Abbot, tutors to the
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
Amboise would pass through
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 possessions.
Amboise lay on the eastern
frontier of the Angevins holdings.
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
Loches by raiding the Saumurois and
disrupting communications. To further threaten Amboise,
fortifications were erected at Chaumont and Montsoreau, while
Saint-Aignan was garrisoned.
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, Viscount of
Thours(1392-1369), 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 I.
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". 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 designers. Charles died at
Amboise in 1498 after he hit his head on a door lintel.
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
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
Leonardo da Vinci came to
Amboise in December 1515 and lived
and worked in the nearby Clos Lucé, connected to the château by an
underground passage. Records show that at the time of Leonardo da
Vinci's death on 2nd of May 1519 he was buried in the Chapel of St.
Florentin originally located (before it was razed at the end of 18th
century) approximately 100 meters NE of Chapel of St. Hubert. This
Chapel of St. Florentin belonged to the royal castle and lay within
the stone fortifications surrounding the property of the Château
Amboise and should not to be confused with the nearby Église
Saint-Florentin, also in Amboise, but not located within the property
borders of the
Château Royal d'Amboise.
French Revolution (1789~1799) the Chapel of St. Florentin
was in such a ruinous state that the engineer appointed by Napoleon
decided it was not worth preserving and had it demolished. The
remaining stonework was used to repair the
Château d'Amboise. Some
sixty years later (and 330 years after Leonardo's death and original
burial) the foundational site of the Chapel of St. Florentin was
excavated: it is alleged that a complete skeleton was found with
fragments of a stone inscription containing some of the letters of his
name. However, other accounts describe heaps of bones (as is customary
in chapels throughout France) and even anecdotes of children kicking
skulls around for fun and games. Nonetheless, based on some
contemporaneous accounts, it is the collection of bones that were
found to be whole and with an extraordinarily large skull that are
supposed to be buried Chapel of Saint-Hubert where now a large
floor-level marble stone bearing a metal medallion reliéf portrait of
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (based on the "Melzi's portrait") and the words
LEONARDO DA VINCI seem indicative of his final resting place.
Henry II and his wife, Catherine de' Medici, raised their children in
Amboise along with Mary Stuart, the child Queen of Scotland
who had been promised in marriage to the future French Francis II.
In 1560, during the French Wars of Religion, a conspiracy by members
House of Bourbon
House of Bourbon against the
House of Guise
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
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, 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
Amboise has been listed as a monument
historique by the French Ministry of Culture. 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
Amboise in November 1848. 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, 1852
Later that year, in October, President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte
visited Abd al-Qadir at
Amboise to give him the news of his
release. 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.
Another view of the Château.
The town of
Amboise from the Château.
An armed fighting vehicle designed by Leonardo da Vinci, in the
grounds of the Château.
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci tomb in the chapel of Saint-Hubert.
Stained glass in the chapel of Saint-Hubert.
View across the Loire from the Château.
Floor Plan of the
Gardens of the French Renaissance
List of castles in France
Amboise Elevation and Location
^ Garrett 2010, p. 97
^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 4–5
^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 15–16
^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 27–28
^ Bachrach 1993, pp. 36–37
^ Garrett 2010, p. xx
^ a b Garrett 2010, p. 100
^ Benevolo 1978, p. 363
^ Today's visitor sees about a fifth of what
Amboise once was, and can
gain an impression of its extent by walking its parapets.
^ Monuments Historiques et Immeubles protégés sur
French), www.annuaire-mairie.fr, retrieved 2012-04-23
^ Garrett 2010, p. 101
^ Anon 1852, p. 258
^ Garrett 2010, p. 102
Anon (1852), "The Arabs at Amboise", Bentley's Miscellany, Richard
Benevolo, Leonardo (1978) , Landry, Judith, ed., The
Architecture of the Renaissance, Volume 1,
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
Dupuch, Antoine-Adolphe (1849). Abd-el-Kader au château d'Amboise.
Bordeaux: Imprimerie de H. Faye. OCLC 457413515.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Amboise - The official website of France (in English)
Cradle of renaissance
Ministry of Culture database entry for
Amboise (in French)
Ministry of Culture photos
Châteaux of the Loire Valley
Coordinates: 47°24′47″N 0°59′09″E / 47.41306°N