The Granvelle: dazzling career... and four-star palace

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The courtyard - ©Concierge.2C / CC-BY-SA The courtyard - ©Concierge.2C / CC-BY-SA
Granvelle palace Town house Festivities Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle

The son of the blacksmith

The palais Granvelle was named after the man who raised it, between 1534 and 1540: Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle, emperor Charles V’s French Minister of Justice.

Well, he was the grandson of a blacksmith from Ornans (Doubs). And the emperor noticed him? Sure! Nicolas became his closest councillor: Charles V even called him his “rest bed”… But Nicolas wasn’t a nobleman, not at all! Not yet. So he owned a little land in Franche-Comté, becoming Nicolas de Granvelle. That’s better, but not enough: he became very rich, so rich that he could raise his own palace in Besançon.

He had 14 children, including 5 sons, all with very important roles in the Court. Besides, his son Antoine succeeded him, with the name of cardinal de Granvelle! He’ll become councillor of Charles V’s successor, Philip II, but also Prime Minister of the Netherlands and vice-king of Naples… My word! In 1564, Antoine went back in his native land and became archbishop of Besançon. He was 70 years-old…

Welcome, bienvenue!

Nicolas’ wife, Nicole Bonvalot, supervised the building site: well, her husband was always sent in mission abroad… but when he came back in Besançon, the house was completed.

People warmly welcomed him! They were generous with gifts, for his arrival: barrels of white wines on a carriage, oat barrels on 8 donkeys, red wine on 3 horses, 8 big boxes of dragées ("sugared almonds"), 3 dozen of candles…

The climax of the show: Et le soir environ les huit et neuf heures pour la bienvenue dudit seigneur de Granvelle, l'on a tiré impétueusement et fait sonner copieusement en l’hôtel l'artillerie y étant... (“And in the evening, at 9 AM, we fired shots with the artillery for the lord of Granvelle”)

Plaster stags and German dukes

Oh, this palace looks like an Italian house! Look at those fine decorations with flowers, angels, dolphins, and the bombastic motto of the Granvelle: Sic visum superis, “the will of Gods”. At the time of the construction, there was inside some nice furniture, rare books and fine paintings… Oh, yes!