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Chateau De Pierrefonds, France

Chateau De Pierrefonds, France (Known places)

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Château de Pierrefonds

The Château de Pierrefonds castle situated in the commune of Pierrefonds in the Oise département of France. It is on the southeast edge of the Forest of Compiègne, north of Paris, between Villers-Cotterêts and Compiègne.

The Château de Pierrefonds includes most of the characteristics of defensive military architecture from the Middle Ages, though it underwent a major restoration in the 19th century.


In the 12th century, a castle was built on this site. Three centuries later, in 1392 (629 years ago), the king Charles VI turned the county of Valois (of which Pierrefonds was part) into a Duchy and gave it to his brother Louis, Duke of Orléans. From 1393 (628 years ago) to his death in 1407 (614 years ago), the latter had the castle rebuilt by the court architect, Jean le Noir.

In Mar. 1617 (404 years ago), during the early troubled days of Louis XIII's reign, the castle, then the property of François-Annibal d'Estrées (brother of the beauty Gabrielle d'Estrée), who joined the "parti des mécontents" (party of malcontents) lead by Henri II, Prince of Condé, was besieged and taken by troops sent by Richelieu, the secretary of state for war. Its demolition was started, but not carried through to the end because of the enormity of the task. The exterior works were razed, the roofs destroyed and holes made in the towers and curtain walls.

The castle remained a ruin for more than two centuries. Napoleon I bought it in 1810 (211 years ago) for less than 3,000 francs. During the 19th century, with the rediscovery of the architectural heritage of the Middle Ages, it became a "romantic ruin": in Aug. 1832 (189 years ago), Louis-Philippe gave a banquet there on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter Louise to Léopold de Saxe-Cobourg Gotha, first king of Belgium. Among other artists, Corot depicted the ruins in several works between 1834 (187 years ago) and 1866 (155 years ago). The castle has been classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1848 (173 years ago).

Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III of France) visited the castle in 1850 (171 years ago). As emperor, he asked Viollet-le-Duc in 1857 (164 years ago) to undertake its restoration. There was no question of a simple repair to the habitable parts (the keep and annexes): the "picturesque" ruins in front were to be kept for decor. In 1861 (160 years ago), the project grew in scale: the sovereign wanted to create an imperial residence, so the castle was to be entirely rebuilt. The works, which would cost 5 million francs, of which 4 million were to come from the civil list, were stopped in 1885 (136 years ago), six years after the death of Viollet-le-Duc. The departure of Napoléon III had halted the reconstruction and, through lack of money, the decoration of rooms was unfinished. Inside, Viollet-le-Duc produced more a work of invention than restoration (polychrome paintings). He imagined how the castle ought to have been, rather than basing his work on the strict history of the building. On the other hand, with the exterior he showed an excellent knowledge of the military architecture of the 14th century.

The Château de Pierrefonds is classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.

Chateau de Pierrefonds in Media

The castle has often been used as a location for movies and TV series, including les Visiteurs, Merlin,and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.




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