A first citadel - said "castrum" - is attested from the 6th century in the location of the current castle, on a rocky spur dominating the Loire and its valley. The royal castle of Blois is a real panorama of the history of the Castles of the Loire, with four facades evoking four different times. It is the only castle that can be proud of having welcomed not less than 10 queens and 7 kings of France.
The inside of the Royal Castle of Blois
The Estates General Room
From the IXth century, the Counts of Blois built a fortress which will be reshaped over the centuries. Of this period, vestiges of the ramparts are preserved: The tower " du foix " and the Estates General Room.
This room is the oldest seigneurial room of France. It is characterized by a big room divided into two naves by a series of columns.
It owes its name to king Henri III who gathered there twice the General States of France, in 1576 and 1588, to try to put an end to the Religious wars which ravaged the kingdom.
The wing François I
From his crowning in 1515, king François I begins the refitting of the north wing of the castle which opened towards the gardens for which the participation of the Italian landscape painter Pacello Da Mercoliano is attested. Four campaigns of works are going to follow one another until 1524, date of the death of his wife Claude of France (daughter of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany).
The Renaissance architecture shows Italian influences with the screw-staircase decorated with pilasters, salamanders (emblems of king) and other motives in the classic art (side of the courtyard). But also, the famous loggias which today decorate the facade (side of the city), inspired by those created in Vatican in Rome by the architect Bramante..
It is on the first floor on this building that queen Catherine of Medici has lived in the second half of the XVIth century. Her sons has occupied successively the second floor: François II, Charles IX and Henri III
The wing Louis XII
In 1498, the Count of Blois and Duke of Orléans, Louis, becomes the king of France under the name of Louis XII. He decides an important work of restoration and arrangements of the castle and the gardens to install the Court of France in Blois.
The wing Louis XII is characteristic of the French Renaissance with its facades decorated with an alternation of bricks and stones, the decorations of windows, and the equestrian statue of the king in a niche over the main gate.
In the court, the chapel Saint Calais, which will be finished by his successor king François I, is also representative of this time.
The wing Gaston d'Orléans
In the XVIIth century, queen Marie of Medici and her son Gaston of Orléans are going to find refuge there. By means of the architect Mansart, Gaston begins in 1635 the reconstruction of the castle. His projects will come to an end three years later with the birth of the heir in the throne of France, his nephew, future Louis XIV.
The wing Gaston d' Orléans reflects the rising classic architecture with his big dome crowning the main staircase, its pediment with the Arms of France and the rhythmic and symmetry of its windows. In parallel, he makes an exceptional botanical garden by the diversity of its plants, about 2 300 species. At the death of Gaston d' Orléans, in 1660, the castle of Blois sinks into oblivion, and gardens are abandoned.
Finally, the castle is saved from the revolutionary demolition by being allocated to the army. Indeed, It welcomes various military regiments until 1840 when it is classified in conformance with the historic monuments of France, on Prosper's Mérimée initiative. From 1843, the architect Félix Duban realizes important restorations.
In 1992, the architect - landscape painter Gilles Clément, creates new gardens in the location of Renaissance gardens of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany: the Garden of the Simple and the Royal Flowers.
Today, the Royal castel of Blois is a Museum of France rich of more than 35 000 works and collections. It shelters the concise Museum of the castle and the Museum of the Fine Arts of the city of Blois. It is also the home of numerous annual and temporary animations.
Focus on the Duc de Guise assassination
In the morning of December 23rd, 1588, Henri de Lorraine, the third Duc de Guise, is summoned by king Henri III in his room of the Royal castle of Blois. He falls then under the stabs of the "Forty five", the Gascons of the personal guard of the king. So far posted behind a hanging of the new cabinet, Henri III notices then the death of his rival and spells according to the legend: "My God ! How tall he is, How tall he is ! He appears even bigger dead than alive".
Indeed, to restore his royal authority, and after being hunted from Paris by the people committed to the catholic League and committed to his boss the Duc de Guise, king Henri III decides to gather the second General States, on October 16th, 1588 in Blois. But the majority of members of parliament being acquired in the cause of the Duc de Guise, the king decides to make him kill as well as his brother, Cardinal de Lorraine (which will be murdered the day after his brother, on December 24th)..