Spanish king Ferdinand VII's exile stories in Valençay castle
Talleyrand: Empire style
Valençay was bought in 1761 by Charles Legendre de Villemorien, a very rich chap. Parisian architect Joseph-Abel Couture destroyed the Eastern wing and completely re-built the Western wing overlooking the courtyard. He also added a big tower on the South-west corner. And... Villemorien’s son sold the castle to prince de Talleyrand, Napoleon I’s famous minister! Ah, he only wanted to have a nice country house to host his guests… he would be serve, we’ll see that!
Talleyrand and the Spanish
Talleyrand bought the castle in 1805 and became duke of Valençay in 1817! Ahh, he was so comfortable here. Nothing could trouble his happiness… unless?? Emperor Napoleon I exiled Spanish king Ferdinand VII, with his uncle Antonio and his brother Carlos: he deposed him and put his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne! Err… what did we do with the Spanish family? They sent them in Valençay, to breath the fresh air, for instance! Talleyrand would be pleased to be their jailer… Indeed, this one had to host them: there was no other way!
A golden cage
Our Spanish princes seemed to like fresh air from Berry. Because they stayed 5 years, here!! 5 years, living in this golden cage, entertained by Talleyrand himself. Valençay’s priest came to confess them everyday. A doctor from Toulouse (Southern France) was available to cure their little scratches. A ″music master″ from Châteauroux and a ″physics teacher″ (princes were fond of sciences) came and helped them to pass the time… Hey, our princes were young. They wanted entertainment! Talleyrand gave them riding lesson, they went hunting, they had parties and dances on the castle’s terrace…
They wanted to release me!
Everything was fine, between the princes and their jailers… Ferdinand was the perfect prisoner. His jailer was his great friend! He even sent congratulation letters to Napoleon, when this one won a battle, calling him ″dear cousin″…
One night, the Spanish set off a fireworks in his honour, in the garden, burning an entire alley in a fraction of a second… Poor Talleyrand moaned: his Spanish ″guests″ transformed his castle into a complete dump!
But Ferdinand never thought of an escape.
Friends even wanted to rescue him. But he reported on his jailers about this possible escape! In 1813, treaty of Valençay signed the end of exile. Princes had to go back home… Ferdinand, pretty nostalgic, sent his own portrait to Talleyrand (we still can see it), and named one of his frigate ″Valençay″...