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Maulnes Castle

Château de Maulnes

Maulnes Castle, locally known as Château de Maulnes, lies north of the village of Cruzy-le-Châtel in the Yonne department in France.

Maulnes Castle was preceded by 2 earlier castles at this site. The first one was abandoned at the end of the 12th century and the last one was destroyed in 1411 by troops of the Burgundian Duke John the Fearless, who had a quarrel with the Count of Tonnerre.

In 1556 Countess of Tonnerre was Louise de Clermont; a 52-year old widow, lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine de' Medici and governess to the royal children. She then married with Antoine de Crussol, Duke of Uzes, 24 years her junior. In 1556 the couple decided to build a new castle in the Maulnes forest, on the site of the former castle. They then designed this peculiar castle; a pentagonal building with 4 corner towers, the 5th entry tower added later. Its interior centered around a hollow, cylinder shaped, well circled by a large spiral staircase connecting all the 5 floors and the roof terrace. It was equipped with 21 fireplaces to combat the harsh winters on the Maulnes plateau. At the back of the castle, opening up to a large garden, was a nymphaeum.

Louise moved into Maulnes in September 1569 and furnished the castle. In January, the next year, she was joined by her husband Antoine. Probably in August 1570, after Antoine had left again to join the French court in Paris, works began to construct the outbuildings. Antoine de Cussol was made Peerage of France in 1572 and fought in the Siege of La Rochelle in the first part of 1573. He returned to Maulnes Castle in August that year, exhausted and ill, and died there that same month. After this all construction on the castle stopped.

Louise de Clermont then left the castle and spent her time mainly in other residences througout France, only sporadically returning to Maulnes. After May 1575 she never returned at all and the castle was in the hands of appointed caretakers. After her death the castle passed to her great-nephew and heir Charles-Henri de Clermont in 1606, who then became Count of Tonnerre and Maulnes. In the mid-17th century his sons sued each other over the ownership of Maulnes and it finally passed to the youngest brother Roger, Marquess of Cruzy, in 1658 who then modified and repaired the castle.

In 1695 Maulnes Castle was bought by the Tellier family, who where Marquisses of Louvois, but they left the castle in 1721. By then the castle had already mainly sheltered only foresters and representatives of the Marquis of Clermont and then of Louvois. Maulnes, little or poorly maintained, slowly decayed, which was further accentuated after 1775 by the construction of a glass factory.

The Tellier family owned the castle until 1834 when they sold it François Vallory, a master glass maker who had already been managing the factory since 1824. In 1851 he sold the castle to a banker who then abandoned it and by 1866 the building was described as being in poor condition. Several other owners followed who were more interested in the lands than the castle and it slowly fell to ruin.

During the 1960's plans were made to rescue the ruined castle and some consolidation works were carried out. After that it was again forgotten. In 1997 the castle was expropriated and since then it is being restored and researched. Since 2005 it is open to the public.

At present Maulnes Castle can be visited for a fee. A peculiar but very nice castle. I especially like the central staircase. Recommended.


Gallery

previousnext

Maulnes Castle

Château de Maulnes

Maulnes Castle, locally known as Château de Maulnes, lies north of the village of Cruzy-le-Châtel in the Yonne department in France.

Maulnes Castle was preceded by 2 earlier castles at this site. The first one was abandoned at the end of the 12th century and the last one was destroyed in 1411 by troops of the Burgundian Duke John the Fearless, who had a quarrel with the Count of Tonnerre.

In 1556 Countess of Tonnerre was Louise de Clermont; a 52-year old widow, lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine de' Medici and governess to the royal children. She then married with Antoine de Crussol, Duke of Uzes, 24 years her junior. In 1556 the couple decided to build a new castle in the Maulnes forest, on the site of the former castle. They then designed this peculiar castle; a pentagonal building with 4 corner towers, the 5th entry tower added later. Its interior centered around a hollow, cylinder shaped, well circled by a large spiral staircase connecting all the 5 floors and the roof terrace. It was equipped with 21 fireplaces to combat the harsh winters on the Maulnes plateau. At the back of the castle, opening up to a large garden, was a nymphaeum.

Louise moved into Maulnes in September 1569 and furnished the castle. In January, the next year, she was joined by her husband Antoine. Probably in August 1570, after Antoine had left again to join the French court in Paris, works began to construct the outbuildings. Antoine de Cussol was made Peerage of France in 1572 and fought in the Siege of La Rochelle in the first part of 1573. He returned to Maulnes Castle in August that year, exhausted and ill, and died there that same month. After this all construction on the castle stopped.

Louise de Clermont then left the castle and spent her time mainly in other residences througout France, only sporadically returning to Maulnes. After May 1575 she never returned at all and the castle was in the hands of appointed caretakers. After her death the castle passed to her great-nephew and heir Charles-Henri de Clermont in 1606, who then became Count of Tonnerre and Maulnes. In the mid-17th century his sons sued each other over the ownership of Maulnes and it finally passed to the youngest brother Roger, Marquess of Cruzy, in 1658 who then modified and repaired the castle.

In 1695 Maulnes Castle was bought by the Tellier family, who where Marquisses of Louvois, but they left the castle in 1721. By then the castle had already mainly sheltered only foresters and representatives of the Marquis of Clermont and then of Louvois. Maulnes, little or poorly maintained, slowly decayed, which was further accentuated after 1775 by the construction of a glass factory.

The Tellier family owned the castle until 1834 when they sold it François Vallory, a master glass maker who had already been managing the factory since 1824. In 1851 he sold the castle to a banker who then abandoned it and by 1866 the building was described as being in poor condition. Several other owners followed who were more interested in the lands than the castle and it slowly fell to ruin.

During the 1960's plans were made to rescue the ruined castle and some consolidation works were carried out. After that it was again forgotten. In 1997 the castle was expropriated and since then it is being restored and researched. Since 2005 it is open to the public.

At present Maulnes Castle can be visited for a fee. A peculiar but very nice castle. I especially like the central staircase. Recommended.


Gallery