Little histories about Ancy-le-Franc castle

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The inner courtyard - ©Christophe.Finot / CC-BY-SA The inner courtyard - ©Christophe.Finot / CC-BY-SA
Ancy-le-Franc castle Castle Louvois Anne de Souvré Mme de Sévigné

An Italian palace in Burgundy

In 1537, count of Tonnerre Antoine de Clermont inherited the castle and decided of its reconstruction between 1544 and 1550. Antoine was governor of Dauphiné, great Master of Waters and Forests. He married Anne-Françoise de Poitiers, sister of the famous Diane. His brand new house was really worthy of his status! Italian architect Serlio unveiled him the plan of a brand new square castle, with gorgeous Renaissance façades.

Serlio? Oh, he already wrote a treaty about architectural orders, a real best seller at that time! The Antic style, the Renaissance one… he knew them pretty well! In Ancy, he just applied the Italian know-how to a Burgundian building: that’s why our castle is unique! Il Primaticcio or a disciple worked on the inner decoration. The result is grandiose!

Tonnerre and old oak

Madame and her States

Charles-Henri de Clermont, Antoine’s grandson, carried on the work. In 1682, François Le Tellier, marquis of Louvois and Louis XIV’s famous minister, owned Ancy. The famous Louvois, becoming Surveyor General of the King’s Works in 1683, who created the place Vendôme in Paris! In Ancy, he raised the outhouses.

His wife, Anne de Souvré, brought him lands galore, as a dowry: in 1683, he added Ancy to his list of possessions! The next year, he owned the county of Tonnerre… You know what? The famous French writer Madame de Sévigné said, mockingly, that madame Louvois ″covered her States″ when she traveled in her vast estates…

Upper crust in Ancy!

Do you know that famous men came in the castle? King of France Louis XIII in April 1630. Louis XIV, as he came back from a battle in Franche-Comté (Eastern France), took a rest in Ancy. Madame de Sévigné also spent time here! A legend also talks about king Henri IV: he sat under an old oak, next to the castle… In the 20th century, the family de Clermont-Tonnerre re-owned Ancy: the last member died in 1940. Abandoned, the castle was bought in 1999… and now, we can visit it!

The visit of Ancy

We can read the Clermont-Tonnerre’s motto in the ground floor: Si omnes ego non, meaning ″Everyone disown you, except me″. It echoes that Sibaut de Clermont, in the 12th century, helped the Burgundian pope Calixte II to get back his seat in Rome. So the pontiff allowed him to put the tiara on his blazon!
The castle has about 100 rooms: we visit 20!

On the ground floor:
• Diane’s living-room with its Italian vaults (16th c.)
On he first floor:
• the chapel of Sainte-Cécile restored at the end of the 19th c., with its trompe-l’oeil paintings made by the Burgundian André Ménassier.
• the Guard’s room, especially decorated for king Henri III… who never came in Ancy! We can see the portrait of marshal Gaspard de Clermont-Tonnerre (18th c.)
• The Gallery of Pharsale, the Flowers bedroom, the Arts bedroom
• Judith’s bedroom, with its 9 paintings (16th c.) about Judith’s story. Look! Judith has Diane de Poitiers’ features, Holopherne has king François I’s ones!
• Pastor Fido’s study (″Loyal Shepherd″) with its gorgeous ceiling: here, madame de Sévigné wrote her letters when she came in Ancy!
• the library, about 3 000 books.
• Louvois’ living-room: Louis XIV slept here in June 1674. The king liked his sojourn in Ancy: the count gave him the keys of the city of Tonnerre, but Louis gave him back, saying that ″they were in good hands, so he had to keep them″!

And also!