Located in the city of Amboise, the castle originally was a medieval fortress. It became a royal residence in the 15th century and the seat of the Court of King Charles VIII, who died there in 1498. King Françis I (1515-1547) also made it its favorite residence and invited important artists, including Leonardo da Vinci. The latter was there in December 1515. Actually, the Italian genius lived and worked in nearby Clos Lucé for the last three years of his life. (More on this in an upcoming post). His remains are buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining Amboise Castle.
Royal couple Henry II and Catherine de Medici raised their children at the Château d'Amboise. They also took care of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, who had been promised in marriage to their son, the future King Francis II.
The castle was turned into a prison during the Fronde and destroyed during the French Revolution. King Louis-Philippe attempted to restore it until his abdication in 1848. It was then confiscated by the French government. For four years, it housed Emir Abd Al-Qadir, who resisted the French colonisation of Algeria, and his family.
Louis-Philippe's heirs have been in control of the castle and in charge of its maintenance since the 1870s.
After doing some research, I learnt a few interesting facts about the area.
- The name Amboise comes from "Ambacia." This Latin word means "between two waters" -- a reference to the old name of the river and marsh Amasse.
- Amboise's market place features a fountain designed by German painter and sculptor Max Ernst (1891-1976).
- Amboise once was the home of the French royal court. Charles VII made it its residence in 1434.
- Its Parc des Mini Châteaux features 44 miniature Loire Valley castles built to a 1:25 scale.
- In 1775, the Duke of Choiseul had a pagoda built in the hills above the city.
- The Île Dorée (Golden Island) is the only flood-proof island in the Loire Valley. It has permanent buildings, including a soccer stadium and a 13th-century church.
- In 1563, the Edict of Amboise (a.k.a. the Edict of Pacification) ended the first phase of the French Wars of Religion and guaranteed the Huguenots religious privileges and freedoms.
- Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, le Philosophe Inconnu, was born in Amboise (1743-1803).