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Castle of Pierrefonds

History of the castle

- History 2

1595. Antoine d' Estrées (father of Gabrielle, mistress of the king Henri IV), acquires of Pierrefonds for 18 000 ducats.

1617. Within the framework of its policy of lowering of large feudal, Richelieu, Minister for the War, make the head office of Pierrefonds with 3 000 men, 500 horses and 4 pieces of artillery. In less than one week, it crushes all the advanced works and makes collapse the principal towers.

XVIIIe century. Given up, the castle attracts some rare visitors. In 1798, it is sold like national good for 8100 Frs.

1810. Napoleon Ier only repurchases Pierrefonds for 2 950 Frs.

1832. Louis-Philippe gives a reception at the time of the marriage of his daughter with Léopold Ier, king of the Belgians.

1848. Pierrefonds is registered on the list of the Historic buildings.

1850. The Prince-president, future Napoleon III, Pierrefonds visit. A few years later, it will charge Viollet-the-Duke of the restoration.

1858. Work starts.

About 1861. The preliminary drafts are modified. It is not only any more question of a "picturesque ruin", but of an imperial residence. Napoleon III is with the ridge of his glory (Nice and Savoy was attached to France, the boring of Suez Canal advances. -). The king of Prussia visits Pierrefonds, which will undoubtedly influence it forty years later for the restoration of the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg in Alsace. Louis II of Bavaria will be inspired him also in the construction industry by the castle of Neuschwanstein in 1869. Viollet-the-duke then gives free course to his gothico-romantic inspiration. Its imagination is unbounded: does not make it produce for Napoleon III a coach of railroad of style Gothic as well as immense room a 50 m long intended to receive its collection of armours. The vault is a pure creation of the architect, interpreting the dashes freely - Gothic style and applying it to the pieces of furniture, with decoration.

1869. The statue with horse of Louis of Orleans by Frémiet (sculptor of the archangel which dominates the Mount-Saint-Michel) is installation in the large court.

1870. The war stops the restoration abruptly, but the main part of external work envisaged are finished. It remains to carry out the fences (doors, windows, glaziery), the roughs-casting, the cover of the terraces and the pavements.

1879. Viollet-the-duke dies. The end of the restorations is hard. One regards them as finished in 1884. The collections of armours are transferred in Paris with the museum from the Army. The castle remains deserted and its unfinished decoration leaves to a strange impression of theatre without actors nor spectators. It will cross two world wars without suffering any damage, symbol of the uselessness of its defenses of another age. The national Case of the historic buildings and the sites has now charges of it the conservation and the development of Pierrefonds. With the favour of cultural tourism interested by the Middle Ages, it tries to give life to this castle, too nine to appear old but too inspired to be regarded as forgery.

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