Durtal castle: a party for the Medici and a massacre being prepared
The builder hawk
Foulques Nerra, count of Anjou, this damned Black Hawk who built keeps, raised the first fortress in 1040, at the confluence of the rivers Loir and Argance, on the old place of durum stallum (current Durtal). The keep fell to the Mathefélon, mighty lords who already owned several lands in Maine, then to the family de La Jaille. Those one re-raised a brand new castle upon the old keep.
Laurels, big cats and lemons
Durtal’s citrus fruits
In the 16th century, here was François de Scépeaux, count of Durtal and marshal de Vieilleville, king of France’s ambassador, who added new “modern” constructions. He created a terrace made of 3 vast storeys overlooking the river Loir, each storey measuring 110 metres long and 6 metres high! He also laid out a vegetable plot near the river will laurels orange-trees and lemon-trees. Whoa, a little Italian look?
The Medici in Durtal
At that time too François de Scépeaux made sumptuous parties, when king Henri II spent few days in Durtal in 1152, or when king Charles IX spent a whole month in 1571 with his mother Catherine of Medici. During this month, they hunted big cats the whole day through, while ladies were chatting in the gardens.
Slaughter is coming
So, François hosted all the Court in his castle. Hey, during one of those visits, in November 1571, he brutally died, after a hunt in the neighbouring forest of Chambiers. Gossips said someone poisoned him! God-damn…
Why? He disagreed with the plan for the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, he, the pacifist catholic. A slaughter secretly caused by king Charles IX and his friends in the forest of Chambiers, in the King’s Table (name of the main crossroads), during a hunting lunch…
The visit of Durtal
François de Scépeaux's granddaughter inherited the castle in 1571. Her husband, Charles de Schomberg, marshal of France, built a square detached house. And then the Revolution came: Durtal was seized and plundered. It became a hospital in the beginning of the 19th century. Nowadays, we can visit the Frescos gallery, the 15th century’s framework, the covered way with its quiet view on the river Loir!