Our story began when the land of Aubigny was annexed to the French kingdom in the 12th century. The king gave it to his grand nephew, the count of Evreux, 2 years later. Then Aubigny fell to the duke Jean of Berry.
And we were at a moment of transition: imagine a horde of 30000 Scots, during Hundred Years War, coming to help the king Charles VII to fight against the English… To thank them, the king gave them ″letters of naturalization″. Bye Bye Scotland! Hello, France! One of those Scots was Jean Stuart de Derneley.
In March 1421, Stuart had a part in the victory of the battle of Baugé, where several great English lords died, like king Henri V’s brother, the duke of Clarence. As a reward for his great courage, the king of France promised to Derneley an annual income of 2000 livres. But the finances had hit the rock-bottom! Pretty embarrassing, the king could not keep his promise…
So he gave him instead castles and cities of Concressault and La Verrerie. Em… The Scottish sulked: king of France was a damned skinflint! So, in March 1423, Charles VII gave him the cities and castle of Aubigny-sur-Nère with all his rights and incomes. Hey, that’s better!
But Jean, wounded during the battle of Crevant, died in 1429 after the battle of Patay. You know what? His son Jean II was allowed to wear the French fleurs de lis on his blazon! His own son, Béraud Stuart, was the bailiff of Berry and French ambassador in Italy.
He fought bravely in Italy with Charles d’Amboise, lord of Meillant… he was a ″brave knight″, said the period chronicles, a ″wise, honest and good lord″, said Commynes! Hey, he was so important, that king of Spain Ferdinand the Catholic, who came in France to see Louis XII in 1507, passed by Aubigny to say hello to Béraud!
The current castle probably dates back to the time of Robert Stuart, count of Beaumont-le-Roger in the 15th century: he drew his inspiration from his own castle of La Verrerie! Robert was a generous chap. After the fire who devastated the city in 1512, he allowed inhabitants to take wood in his neighbouring forests! So, houses of Aubigny town-centre were re-raised thanks to our generous Scot (we still can see one of them, the house of Foulons)...
Robert’s grandson, Edme, married Catherine de Balzac d'Entragues: she became a widow in 1583 and went down in history! During war of Religion, Catherine embraced Henri IV’s Protestant party and hosted in Aubigny a garrison of 400 men, in 1590. Few days later, the marshal of La Châtre and his Catholics troops besieged the city with 6000 soldiers and 3 cannons.
They made a breach in the rampart… and entered! Except that Catherine, with her garrison and the inhabitants, bravely expelled the enemy. Until recently, people of Aubigny used to celebrate Catherine’s courage, every year on January 20th!