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Suze-la-Rousse: ginger hairs, legendary death and royal jams

The castle | GautierPoupeau / CC-BY-SA
Castle Wars of Religion Festivities Legend Charles IX Catherine de Medici Suze-la-Rousse castle

Ginger hairs

In the beginning, it used to be counts of Orange's manor. Then, mighty lords of Baux raised a keep in the 12th century: nothing remains from this keep, but we can imagine it as a fortress flanked by towers, crenelates and machicolation. The archetypal medieval defensive stronghold, in short!

Bertrand des Baux gave it to his daughter Marguerite. The young lady was nicknamed la Rousse ("Redhead"), because of her beautiful ginger hairs: was the castle named after the young lady?

Err… no. We know the city of Suza la Rossa since a long time, long before Marguerite and her dad: so her nickname of ″Redhead″ didn’t come from her hairs. This Rossa came from ochre local stones...

The La Baume

Italian palace

Anyway, Suze fell by marriage to the La Baume family in the 15th century: Pierre then Rostaing de La Baume, bishop of Orange, completely transformed the castle.

Suze was a medieval fortress: it became an Italian palace with a courtyard and a Renaissance façade overlooking the inner court.

François de La Baume (he became count of Suze in 1572), made a refitting of the apartments in 1551.

Dead on horseback!

Do you know François de La Baume, a warrior who defended Catholic cause during wars of Religion?

He even fought against the terrible baron des Adrets, one of the most famous Protestant leader! They fought a duel in front of the castle.

François succeeded in knocking him down with 2 superficial blows. Ouch! And he put him in his place, saying:

″-What would you do with me, if I was in the same state?″

″-I would kill you.″

″-I’m not surprised. But I never killed and I would never kill an enemy when he’s down.″

François healed him and let him go...

You know what? Mortally wounded in Montélimar siege, François mumbled to his mare "Let's go die in Suze" and breathed his last in front of the castle...

Jams for the Medici

September 1564. Catherine of Medici, coming from Lyon and going in Provence, stopped to see the lord of Suze, François de La Baume.

She turned up with her kids: future king of France Henri III (13), king Charles IX (14) and little Margot (11). Plus courtiers and lords!

François hosted them well: he raised for the occasion (in 4 days only) a building housing a jeu de paume (ancestor of tennis). Ohh, nice! The king loved this sport!

And wait: the banquet was just amazing, with ″a nice snack made of jams″! Jams and tennis, they were lucky… Today, we still can see the tennis site.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!