Little histories about Ainay-le-Vieil castle

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Ainay-le-Vieil castle Castle Garden Marie-Antoinette Louis XII Jacques Coeur French Revolution

Middle Ages in Ainay

The first fortress was mentioned since the year one thousand. Ainay belonged to lords des Barres; several sirs among them went down in history during crusades. In the 14th century, Ainay fell to the family de Sully: in 1330, Jean raised a castle on the foundations of the primitive stronghold: a big castle surrounded by a vast rampart flanks by 9 big towers! Hey, here, Ainay is also known as ″the little Carcassonne from Berry″!

Jacques Coeur

In 1445, Ainay fell to a famous guy: Jacques Coeur, king Charles VII’s Finance Minister. But he enjoyed his estate 10 years only! Yes, in July 1451, he was arrested, accused of the murder of the pretty Agnes Sorel, the king’s mistress. A mysterious death, OK, but Jacques wasn’t guilty! Hey, people were jealous of his big wealth… the cause of his disgrace? Anyway, in May 1445, all his possessions and lands were seized, including Ainay…


An oak struck down

The grand daughter of the last marquis de Bigny married the marquis de Colbert, the famous descendant of Louis XIV’s minister, Jean-Bapstiste Colbert. Hey, we also meet Jean-Baptiste’s brother, Charles Colbert de Croissy or Auguste-Francois-Marie de Colbert-Chabanais, emperor Napoléon’s general… We can see his portrait in Ainay’s big living-room. He died at only 31, during a battle: in the painting, we can see the announcing signs of this premature death: the scared horse, the broken column, the stormy sky… and the oak tree struck down!

Yummy poems

Auguste let a son, Napoléon-Joseph. He made a pretty inglorious political career and became a writer: he wrote… culinary poems! Ainay belongs today to the Chevenon de Bigny’s descendants.

The visit of Ainay

Marie-Antoinette’s spider

A touching thing: the little music box with a lyre shape. Queen Marie-Antoinette gave it to the governess of her kids, madame de Tourzel. This one was a descendant of the current owners! Oh, and don’t miss the little amber medallion, with a spider inside: the queen also gave it to her governess, because she took care of her children in the Temple jail, between 1790 and 1792. It was Antoinette’s lucky charm… the governess escaped from the guillotine, but not the queen!


Thematic gardens created in 1985: canal, box-trees, rose garden… we even find charter-houses, pretty rare in France, typical of the 17th century: greenery rooms inspired from Versailles’ royal vegetable plot!

And also!