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Chateau de Chantilly Castle History Near Paris

Originally there was a fortress called the Orgemont Fortress back in the Middle Ages, but the only remains left of this medieval fortress are the bases of seven towers that lay in the moat.

Pierre d'Orgemont did not have any children and when he died, he left Chantilly Castle to his nephew Guillaume de Montmorency in 1484.  It then went to Anne de Montmorency who was a soldier and a close companion of King Francois I and he decided to get the medieval chateau renovated and in approximately 1560, he commissioned Jean Bullant to construct the Petit Chateau, which is the oldest part of Chantilly still standing today.

Chantilly History

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Chateau de Chantilly Castle History

He also had the terrace landscaped and you can still get to see a statue of him on horseback, plus there were seven chapels constructed although there are only three chapels still in existence.

Eventually it was in the hands of his grandson, Henri II de Montmorency who had the Maison de Sylvie constructed in the grounds of the chateau, but after being involved in a revolt against King Louis XIII, he was beheaded and Chantilly was confiscated by King Louis XIII.

After a few years, in the year 1643 the chateau was back in the hands of the family of Henry II.  In fact it was his sister who was the wife of Henri II de Bourbon Condé, and parents to Le Grande Condé that took over Chantilly.  It was Louis II de Bourbon Condé, known as Le Grand Condé that transformed the chateau by having the grounds landscaped by André Le Nôtre, who landscaped the Chateau de Versailles at a later date.

Le Grand Condé turned the Chateau de Chantilly into a venue for parties, balls and fireworks displays with a rather influential circle of people attending.  Then in the 18th century, the son of Le Grand Condé, called Prince Henry Jules had the Grand Château transformed by Jules Hardouin Mansart, who was also the architect responsible for enlarging the Royal Chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Chateau Versailles, but the work was completed by Jean Aubert.

Louis Henri, Prince de Bourbon Condé commissioned Jean Aubert to build the Grandes Ecuries, which was an 18th century architectural masterpiece, plus the apartments of the Petit Chateau were redecorated and then his son Louis Joseph, Prince de Condé had the Jeu de Paume built in 1756 along with the Chateau d'Enghien, which is a long classical style building situated  on the right of the Grille d'Honneur.

It was in the year 1774 that Prince Louis Joseph had the English and Chinese gardens laid out, plus the Le Hameau, which is a group of five peasants houses was constructed and this is what inspired Marie Antionette's Le Hameau in the Trianon in the Parc of the Chateau de Versailles.

When the Bastille fell in 1792 he emigrated and unfortunately the collections in Chantilly were seized and transported to The Louvre in Paris, then the chateau was used as a prison before being demolished in 1799. 

Prince Louis Joseph returned to France several years later and had the apartments restored, plus a good part of his collections that were sent to The Louvre were recovered.  The architect, Victor Dubois, was commissioned to redesign the English garden in 1817 and Louis Joseph also had the ditch filled in that separated the two chateau buildings.

The Chateau Chantilly then passed to his son, Louis Henri Joseph, but unfortunately the son of Louis Henri was executed and he had no heir to leave Chantilly to and so it was passed to his great nephew, Henry d'Orleans, Duc d'Aumale in 1830 when he was only eight years of age.

The Duc d'Aumale was the fifth son of King Louis Philippe and became a soldier.  He commissioned the architect Duban to build a gallery leading to his apartments and Eugene Lami redecorated these private apartments, but Duc d'Aumale was exiled in London during the years 1848 through to 1870, where he accumulated incredible collections. 

Upon his return to France in 1871, he decided to have the Grand Chateau reconstructed in which to house his collections and this was conducted between the years of 1875 and 1885 by the architect Honoré Daumet.

Unfortunately, his wife had already died and he lost both of his sons, so again there was no heir to inherit Chantilly.

But the Duc d'Aumale had been a member of the Institut de France since 1871 and decided to leave the Chantilly estate to the Institut under the specific conditions that upon his death, the Condé Museum would be opened to the public.  Also his will was very specific that the presentation of his fabulous collections of things such as paintings and books would not be changed or loaned out.

And hence the Condé Museum within the Chateau Chantilly was opened to the public approximately one year after his death.  But his wish was for the whole estate to become a cultural heritage and this also included the Grandes Ecuries, which is home to the La Musée Vivant du Cheval along with the Parks and Gardens of Chantilly and now through Henry d'Orleans, Duc d'Aumale, we all have the opportunity of experiencing this wonderful place that is steeped in history.


Chateau de Chantilly Castle



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