Little histories of Commarin castle

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The castle - ©Christophe.Finot / CC-BY-SA The castle - ©Christophe.Finot / CC-BY-SA
Commarin castle Castle Accident Marie-Judith de Vienne French Revolution

From one family to one another

Loyal to the dukes

Jean de Cortiamble owned the estate in 1346: he inherited it from his uncle Pierre de Commarin who died childless. Duke of Burgundy’s chamberlain, Cortiamble re-raised the castle at the end of the 14th c. Jean’s son, Jacques, extended the castle by adding two round towers and the chapel. Jacques went with John the Fearless in the crusade of Nicopolis and was taken prisoner with him. After 2 years of negotiation (he had to gather money for the ransom), he brought back the duke back home!

Golden Fleece

Jacques’ daughter married Jean de Dinteville: when Jacques died in 1427, he get back the castle. Their son died with Charles the Bold in front of Nancy’s walls… so Commarin fell to the Vienne family. A very old family: one of them, Guillaume, will be the first knight of the Golden Fleece, an order created by the duke Philip the Fair!

The accident

The estate was raised to a county in 1588 for Antoine de Vienne, and Charles I de Vienne re-raised Commarin, followed by another reconstruction by Charles II in 1702. Architect Philippe Paris laid out a vast courtyard surrounds by outhouses, built another classical dwelling house at the bottom of the court, flanks by two wings. In this brand new castle, Anne de Chastellux, Charles’ wife, gave birth to a daughter: Marie-Judith was born in 1699.

And 2 years later, her mum wrote in her diary the following accident: ″A tower collapsed, at noon, during the lunch. We already noticed that it was in ruin. This tower was located in the dwelling house where my daughter’s bedroom was, so I was really scared. I ran in the courtyard, the nurse showed me my daughter by the window. We didn’t know how to reach the room, because the staircase collapsed too. This accident incited us to raise.″

Talleyrand’s nanny

By marriage, the Damas became Commarin’s new owner: by marriage, I mean by the marriage of Marie-Judith de Vienne with Joseph-François de Damas, marquis d'Antigny. The marquise d'Antigny, maybe you know her… she was the famous Talleyrand’s nanny (Napoléon I’s minister)!

She became a widow at the age of 37 with 2 dependent kids, plus a castle, lands… and debts! But she didn’t lose her courage. She spared her money and lived a simple life, without any luxury, managed her possessions with wisdom, faced up to her creditors, gave a nice education to her kids and a good dowry for her daughter…

And she entirely refit-out the castle! She raised the outhouses, the stables, re-planted the neighbouring wood in 1747… She died in 1780, very old! In the beginning of the 20th century, here was Diane Pastré, Charles de Vogué's widow: she had a luxurious life, in Paris. But she also spent all her energy for her Burgundian castle, she restored and modernized...

The one who never left

In 1793, the marquis Charles de Damas was arrested by the Revolutionaries and locked in jail. And yet, inhabitants of Commarin liked him… so they succeeded in releasing him! But he was arrested, one more time. This time, Commarin was sold as a ″émigré’s possession″… he never left his Burgundy, though! The French Revolution had really got something against him… but when he show them some written proofs, saying he never left his castle, Damas was released for good!

The visit of Commarin

• Let’s discover the Big Room (18 m. long and 9 wide): they used to perform plays, here. We still can see the pulleys for the sets, between the beams… Marie-Judith ″mended this room″, as she wrote.

• Then, we have Marie-Judith’s nice living-room with its typical Burgundian flooring, its family portraits and paintings. Hey! A portrait of king of France Henri IV… the tradition says he fell in love with madam de Cypierre, a Vienne’s relative. She hosted him one day in Commarin. Henri was represented as a hunter, at the foot of the infatuated lady!

• Don't miss the living-room with its gorgeous tapestries, with fresh and bright colors! They date back to the 15th century: blazons represented belong to the families Dinteville and Vienne. They are pretty old, and yet Marie-Judith restored them and put them on the wall, because she loved them.