Last modified: 2003-08-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: loir-et-cher | blois | fleur-de-lys (blue) |
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by Arnaud Leroy
Source: Mairie de Blois
Blois is a city of c. 50,000 inhabitants, préfecture of the department of Loir-et-Cher, located on the river Loire, and is one of the main centers of asparagus production in France.
The history of Blois is full of crimes, plots and conjury. The castle of Blois, where most of these events took place, has a composite architecture, whose different elements reflect the artistic choices of its successive owners.
In the Middle Ages, the Counts of Blois were powerful lords, who
fought against their neighbours, the Counts of
Anjou, for the domination on the region.
In 1392, the last Count of Blois sold his County to Louis, Duke of
Orléans and brother of King of
France Charles VI (1380-1422. The Duke set up his court to Blois,
where he died in 1407.
Louis' elder son, Charles (1394-1465), had a very sad life. In 1415, he was captured during the battle of Ajincourt and spent 25 years in captivity in England. When he came back to Blois, he modernized the old feudal castle where he spent the rest of his life in voluntary reclusion. He set up in Blois a brilliant court and has remained famous for his refined poems (ballad and rondeaux). In 1462, he had one of the only joys in his life with the birth of his son Louis II, later King of France as Louis XII (1498-1515).
Louis XII moved the royal court from Amboise to Blois. The King and his wife, Ann of Brittany (1477-1514), modified the castle in the Italian style. Their daughter, Claude of France (1499-1524), married next King of France, François I (1515-1547). After Claude's funeral (1526, after the King had returned from the Italian Wars), François I never came back to Blois.
In 1588, Duke Henri de Guise, a.k.a. le Balafré
[Scarface] (1549-1588), Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom, forced
King Henri III (1574-1589) to convoke the State Generals. Guise,
nicknamed 'the King of Paris', was the chief of the
League(Ligue), a Catholic political and religious movement
which expected to overthrow the King. Most of the 500 deputies of the
State generals, as well as the King of Spain, backed Guise up. The
only solution found by Henri III to save his throne was the
assassination of his rival. Duke of Guise's assassination is one of
the most famous scene of popular French history. In the castle of
Blois, the rooms on the second floor where the murder took place can
still be seen.
On 23 December 1588 in the morning, the King sent to Guise a servant requiring him to come into his private office. Guise left the Council's Room and walked over the King's bedroom to the King's office. Before he could have entered the office, Guise was attacked by eight swordsmen. He killed four of them and injured a fifth one before being murdered. Guise walked over the room to the King's bed and fell down, saying Miserere mei Deus. A letter saying 'in order to propagate the civil war in France, we shall need 700,000 pounds per day' was found in Guise's pocket. Henri III is said to have given Guise's body a slap in the face and to have said 'My God, he looks even taller dead than alive.' Next day, Cardinal of Lorraine, Guise's brother, was murdered in his jail. Their bodies were burned and their ashes thrown away into the river Loire. King Henri III was murdered eight months later by the fanatic monk Jacques Clément.
In 1626, King Louis XIII (1610-1643) gave the County of Blois and the Duchies of Orléans and Chartres to his brother Gaston, Count d'Eu and Duke d'Orléans (1608-1660). Gaston was a serial plotter. His first enemy was the powerful Cardinal of Richelieu (1585-1642), the King's Prime Minister. Gaston attempted several times to murder it, and experienced sucessive episodes of exile and reconciliation. In 1642, following his last plot, he was deprived from his rights to the throne. After Richelieu's death, he turned his plotting activity against Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), who had been appointed by Richelieu as his succcessor. Between 1648 and 1652, Gaston supported the Fronde, an uprising against Mazarin which took place during Louis XIV's minority. After the defeat of the Fronde, Gaston was eventually exiled in his castle of Blois, where he ended his life in prayer and repentance.
In March 1814, the Regency Government of Marie-Louise of Hapsburg-Lorraine (1791-1847), emperess of the French and Napoléon I's second wife, was set up in Blois.
Blois is the birth city of Robert-Houdin (1805-1871), conjurer, scientist, clockmaker and writer. He invented several electric clockworks with weird names such as the Horloge-Mère (Mother-Clockwork) or the Pendule Mystérieuse (Mysterious Clock); and of Auguste Poulain, founder of the chocolate factory Poulain (1848)
Ivan Sache, 16 February 2002
The flag of Blois is white with the municipal logo placed in the middle of the flag
Ivan Sache, 16 February 2002