Anecdotal histories about Sedan castle

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The castle - ©Sébastien Ortega-Dubois / CC-BY-SA The castle - ©Sébastien Ortega-Dubois / CC-BY-SA
Sedan castle Castle

Bouillon

Sedan was the fief of the old family of La Marck, also counts of Clèves and dukes of Bouillon. We’ll meet some nice characters, in this family, you’ll see... Bouillon, originally, is a small city in Belgium: the native city of Godefroy of Bouillon, the famous leader of the First Crusade!

Before he went, he sold his duchy to the bishop of Liege, who himself gave it to the family of La Marck. These one gave it to the La Tour-d’Auvergne when Charlotte de La March married Henri de La Tour-d’Auvergne, viscount of Turenne…

Wild boar

“The Boar from Ardennes” was the nickname of several La Marck members. We can also see this boar on the coat of arms of the city of Sedan… French chronicler Brantôme explained the story of this name in his book Vie des grands capitaines français: “Robert II was a brave and nice captain.

They called him the Boar from Ardennes, because he plundered the lands belonging to the emperor and neighbours, like a boar who damaged vineyards and wheat belonging to poor and gentle people.”

Henri IV La Marck

Evrard de La Marck owned the place in 1424 and began to raise a fortress between 1424 and 1470. His son Jean continued the building site. In 1549, Sedan became an independent principality: Robert IV de La Marck added 4 bastions to the castle.

This Robert IV married Françoise de Brézé, Diane de Poitiers and Louis de Brézé's daughter! Pretty nice pedigree: her dad was the grandson (illegitimate) of king of France Charles VII and his famous mistress, Agnès Sorel!

Remember, Louis’ father, Jacques, killed his wife while she was with her lover, in the castle of Brissac… Anyway, it was thanks to Diane that Henri get his marshal’s baton in 1547, by interceding with her lover the king Henri II.

A king’s minion

Now let me introduce Charles-Robert, king Henri III’s minion. He loved big flashy rings and frills, but he was also a brave warrior! We read in the book La chronique de Champagne (part 3, Henri Fleury) that king of France Henri III was in Vincennes retired with his minions, where he fasted and imposed this to everyone: yes, the king repented.

They all wore scratchy monk’s habits, they locked in cells, and so on. All this things annoyed Robert: he wanted to eat, gosh! So, he went secretly in Paris to buy two big soles and something to make a sauce. He came back in Vincennes, and he started his cooking… when the king came, bad luck!

This one had a quick look in the cell door’s lock and said: “Hey, Robert, you naughty one! Stop your cooking!” Robert gave up his cooking and said to the king he was bored with fast and repenting: “I will eat my soles, I will enjoy them and then, you can throw me out if you want…”

Wedding present

In 1591, a nice wedding took place, when Charlotte de La Marck married Henri de La Tour-d’Auvergne. On his wedding night, Henri decided to besiege the city of Stenay, secretly, with 400 men… a city occupied by Catholics: he wanted to bring back the city’s keys to his king Henri IV! After all, this one introduced his future wife to him…

Well, Henri, are you kidding? Leaving like this, on your wedding night?! A chronicler said that “Henri preferred the honor and the glory than his own pleasures”… Anyway, just imagine Charlotte’s fright, waiting for her husband all night long…

When the morning came, the king received, amazed, the keys from La Tour-d’Auvergne, and said to him: “Whoa, it's the best gift I had for a wedding!” One year after that, in 1592, Henri became marshal of France… Charlotte died at the age of 20, so Henri remarried Elisabeth of Nassau. They had a son, in 1611: the famous Turenne, kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV’s best general, a real military genius admired by Napoleon himself!

Then... In the middle of the 16th century, lords of La Marck changed religion... they became Protestant! Henri completed the surrounding wall of the city and raised the "lower castle" from 1614, based on plans by Salomon de Brosse. At that time, they also founded a "Protestant Academy", which attracted the crowd... until its closing in 1681.


And also!