Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Château de Puyguilhem

Today's castle is the Château de Puyguilhem in the Perigord region of France. It was built in 1513 to 1535 by Mondot de La Marthonie. Mondot was a lawyer who bought the title of Sieur de Puyguilhem in 1510. He was president of the Guyenne parliament in Bordeaux, but he really rose to power as legal adviser to the queen, Louise of Savoy. When her son became King Francis I, Mondot moved on to become president of the Paris parlement, and when Francis left to fight his war in Italy Mondot was a leading spirit on the council that governed the realm in his absence. This ascent from regional to national government led him to add a new wing to his original design for his wonderful house. It is still modest in size compared to the vast noble chateaux of the Loire, which I think adds to its charm.

In 1938, the French government seized the chateau from its owner "pour cause d'utilité publique," a phrase that tells you a lot about the French state, after accusing him of letting a listed monument fall into ruins. Since then it has been senstitively restored.

The chateau has much marvelous carving in both stone and wood; the fireplace showing the Labors of Hercules is especially famous.

Now the regional government keeps a nice collection of furniture and tapestries dating to the 17th and 18th centuries in the chateau.

Many more pictures of this lovely house here.

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