Caumont family in Les Milandes castle: crime, blood and tears
The Caumont and Les Milandes
Blood and tears
François de Caumont and his wife Claude de Cardaillac, tired of their medieval fortress of Castelnaud, decided to raise a brand new house in 1489, a few kilometres away. They would move in Les Milandes in case of need, they could take shelter in Castelnaud in case of war… François' son, Charles de Caumont, inherited the castle in 1515. But a disastrous fate waited 3 of his 4 sons, converted to Protestantism in 1528: François died in 1462, murdered by duke de Guise's henchmen; Geoffroy was poisoned in 1574 in the castle; the third one was killed on Saint-Bartholomew's Day Massacre...
Poisoned mushrooms and bloody night
Middle of the 16th c. Geoffroy de Caumont, a Catholic guy, had just changed religion (protestantism). So did his brothers. Do you remember? We met Geoffroy in the castle of Castelnaud, fief of Caumont family, with his wife Marguerite de Lustrac and their only daughter Anne, heiress of her parents’ huge fortune... In 1572, when king of Navarre (future king of France Henri IV) married the pretty queen Margot in Paris, Geoffroy was happy to be invited with his elder brother François and his two nephews. The wedding would reconcile Protestants and Catholics... But the party ended on the gory night of Saint-Bartholomew's Day Massacre, where king Charles IX’s Catholics murdered more than 3000 Huguenots. François de Caumont and one of his son were also killed… His youngest son, sheltered under his father and brother’s corpses, get out of the situation, so did Geoffroy who ran away towards Les Milandes! 2 years later, poisoned mushrooms killed Geoffroy: a plot made by Protestant lords… After his death, his wife Marguerite de Lustrac get Les Milandes back and asked brave protestant captain Geoffroy de Vivans to protect the place: with this guy, nothing to fear! The castle would be safe.
A traitor, a royal lover
Aah, let’s get back to the point: what about the young boy who hid himself under his father’s corpse during St-Bartholomew’s Day Massacre? He would become future marshal of France France Jacques Nompar de Caumont! King Henri IV’s loyal comrade in arms… he betrayed in 1600 with Henri de Rohan: all his castles were destroyed. He get king’s forgiveness, who appointed him marshal of France. Do you know what? Among his descendants, we find the famous duke de Lauzun, queen Marie-Antoinette’s so-called lover... And yet, Caumont family kept their castle until the French Revolution. A fire destroyed Les Milandes in 1860, so the new owner, general Tournier, decided to turn the damaged wing into neoclassical style. Then: you know the end of the story ! Josephine Baker owned Les Milandes. Maybe quieter times for our castle ?