Château de Montpoupon, Céré-la-Ronde, France

The Château de Montpoupon is a castle in the commune of Céré-la-Ronde in the Indre-et-Loire département of France. It is situated to the east of Tours, 10 km south of Montrichard in a forested valley.

Originally a mediaeval fortress, the castle was altered by the lords of Prie and Buzançais. The postern was constructed in the 16th century.

Since the middle of 19th century, the castle has belonged to the Motte Saint Pierre family. It houses one of three French museums dedicated to hunting with dogs.

It has been listed since 1930 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.

The rocky promontory on which the castle of Montpoupon is built was chosen by a Germanic clan at the time of Charlemagne, the Poppo. The etymology of the name is directly related to this clan [ref. necessary]: Mons Poppo (Poppo clan hill), will become the rhythm of the evolution of the language “Mons Popeo”, “Mont Bébé” and finally “Montpoupon”.

Father Miller, a linguist who made long stays at the castle Montpoupon and wrote an etymological history of the name Montpoupon, traces the name to ix th or x th century after its composition indicates that a Gallo-Germanic origin. This word being formed of the common noun Mont, to which is added the name of the founder Poupon, proper German name. We find “Poppo” in the list of names of first men. This place name attached to a Germanic name well indicates that housing should rise at this location.

The Middle Ages at Montpoupon
Nerra Fulk and Odo of Blois
In the Middle Ages, the castle was a strategic stronghold, located halfway between Loches (at the hands of Foulques Nerra) and Montrichard (belonging to Eudes de Blois). This will mute spectator of the struggles between the two men.

Foulques Nerra, Count of Anjou, known as the Black Falcon, was one of the greatest military figures of the Middle Ages. He owned on the Loire, part of the Seigneurie d’Amboise, castle and city included. He also captured many fortresses: Semblançay, Langeais, Montbazon… He spent most of his life in war against his neighbors and especially Eudes I of Blois, Count of Blois, who owned the cities of Montrichard, Saint-Aignan, Chinon, Saumur…

Foulques Nerra, went to the Holy Land in expiation of his acts of cruelty, saw his lands ravaged by the count of Blois. When he returned, he decided to fight for Montrichard and build a powerful fortress. He watched the communications of the Cher Valley and the road from Blois to Loches. The position of the castle of Montpoupon on this way of Aquitaine designated him quite naturally Foulques Nerra as strategic point to connect its two important strongholds of Loches and Montrichard.

When he returned from his second crusade in 1012, he decided to take the war to the territories of his enemies and to take back his castle of Montrichard. He met the army of the Count of Anjou at the Battle of Pontlevoy in 1016, making 6,000 killed or prisoners. By this victory, Fulk Nerra consolidated his possessions.

Foulques Nerra then went to the Holy Land for the third time. He died on his return in 1040. Without a doubt, he contributed to the construction of a stronghold in Montpoupon. The base of the big tower is certainly the testimony. During works undertaken in 1920 at the castle, foundations of this ancient castle were discovered with a rectangular building flanked on the north facade of two half round towers used for defense. It was built steeply on rock.

The house of Amboise
The house of Amboise, to which the lords of Montpoupon are attached during the centuries, was founded by Hémon or Aymon de Buzançais (in the Indre). Charles the Bald gave Aymon de Buzançais around 840, the borough of Amboise. Lisois of Bazogers (xi th century) married Hersende Buzançais and will be rewarded for his bravery by Fulk Nerra by governing instead of Amboise, thus founding the powerful family.

Montpoupon then raised the house of Amboise.

In 1151, Henry II Plantagenet, future king of England, took possession of Anjou, Touraine and Maine. Having married Eleanor of Aquitaine, he became master of all western France with a territory as large as that of the King of France.

Hugues II of Amboise, suzerain of Montpoupon took the part of Henry II Plantagenet who was proclaimed king of England in 1154, causing many conflicts with the neighboring lords having pledged allegiance to the king of France Louis VII.

Many struggles then broke out between Richard the Lionheart, successor to the throne of England and Philip II Augustus, king of France. Montrichard will be taken over by the army of Philip Augustus after a siege of two months and probably Montpoupon who was in his way. The two kings finally allied themselves and surrender their fortified places before leaving together in the Holy Land.

John Lackland, taking advantage of the absence of his brother, tried to usurp the crown of England and his possessions Touraine whose Loches. Suplice III of Amboise, son of Hugh II of Amboise, abandoned the party of the King of England. John Landless took the crown of England on the death of his brother in 1195 to the detriment of his murdered nephew, provoking the anger of the lords. Philip Augustus besieged Tours in 1204 and all Touraine was annexed to the crown of France in 1205.

The conflicts with the English dragged on for many years, devastating the banks of the Cher and neighboring countries. Montpoupon remained high place of importance, unfortunately no record of the names of the governors or captains having custody of the castle at that time was known.

The house of Amboise was more closely linked to the Lords Montpoupon with the wedding of Madeleine d’Amboise with Antoine de Prie in 1431.

The family of Prie
The house of Prie, lords of Buzançais in the Indre, had a dungeon partly demolished today. Philippe Auguste took it several times. The first line of lords of Montpoupon known will be in 1328 with Philippe de Prie. No document tells us how Philippe de Prie became lord of Montpoupon. The Pries were they lords or governors of Montpoupon before Philippe de Prie? We do not know and nothing will not tell us exactly what were the lords Montpoupon, successors of Philippe de Prie to his grand-son, Antoine de Prie.

Antoine de Prie, Lord of Buzançais and Montpoupon, entered the service of the King of France very early. He took part in the Orleans siege with Joan of Arc. Advisor to King Charles VII (in the service of the King’s Chamber), he will be named Grand Queux de France (in charge of supervising the kitchen) in 1431 and first Baron of Touraine.

From 1450, Antoine de Prie and his wife raised the castle of Montpoupon having been almost completely destroyed during the Hundred Years War. They built on what was left of the former main building a residence of first Renaissance very comfortable Touraine, which can still be seen today. The walls of the north facade were still standing. Antoine de Prie reinforced them, opened windows, and made other openings on the south facade, ending in two corbelled corner turrets. In the middle of the south facade, in a now defunct square tower was a spiral staircase. Under each turret left a wall, replacing the military curtain of the xii th century joining on one side the isolated tower and on the other the old postern. Between it and the isolated tower stood the chapel, some fragments of frescoes were found. Many of them are still visible in the converted chapel in the xix th century. There are scenes of the Passion of Christ and the arms of the family of Prie. Nothing remains of this chapel which was demolished during the Revolution.

Louis de Prie, their son, inherited the estate around 1490. He took over his father and was the last Grand Queux de France. His children dying quite young and childless, it was Aymar de Prie (3 e son of Antoine de Prie and Madeleine d’Amboise) who became lord Montpoupon in 1527.

Aymar de Prie, advisor to King Charles VIII, accompanied the king to the conquest of the kingdom of Naples in 1495. Inspired by the taste of construction seen during these trips to Italy, he devoted himself to beautify his home and built the postern that we see today, probably in place of an old postern with drawbridge. This elegant two-storey building with turrets and a large door with broken architecture, is a jewel of the Renaissance.

Confirmed its position as adviser to King François I er, Aymar de Prie then enjoyed the favor of the king. It is likely that François I first came to Montpoupon and occupied the king’s chamber. The painted beams of the room were made by Italian workers.

In 1523, Aymar de Prie was appointed Grand Master of the Crossbowmen, one of the most important of the crown. The Grand Master of the Crossbowmen “had the command of all the footmen and had the stewardship over the officers who were in charge of the war machine before the invention of the powder and the artillery”. This function was suppressed to the death of Aymar de Prie, its importance has been greatly diminished by the appointment of a Grand Master of the Artillery and a Colonel General Infantry.

In these last years Aymar de Prie was trained in the rebellion of the Constable of Bourbon and imprisoned. With the indulgence of Louise de Savoie (mother of François I er), he was released in 1525.

His first wife, Claude de Choiseul, Aymar de Prie had two daughters, Renee Requests to be maid of honor of Claude de France, daughter of Louis XII and wife of François I er. He will also have 3 children from his second marriage including Edme de Prie who succeeded him at Montpoupon. Aymar de Prie died around 1527.

The ladies of Prie
Aymar II de Prie (great grandson of Aymar de Prie) married Louise de Hautemer. Very violent, he would, according to legends, killed with a blow of arquebus a man who worked in the machicolation of the big tower because it did not descend quickly enough to its call. Likewise, being a day late at mass, he would have killed the priest in front of the altar of the Montpoupon chapel because he had not waited for him to begin the service. It is also reported that in the chamber of requests, his wife Louise Hautemer would have been locked up by the latter, having been found unfaithful.

Louis de Prie succeeded his father and married Françoise de Saint Gelais Lusignan. They had two daughters: Charlotte and Louise. Succeeding the burden of his mother governess of Louis XIII, Francoise de Saint-Gelais Lusignan became Lady of Honor of Anne of Austria in 1642. At his death in 1673, the house of Requests died with it.

His daughter Louise was very noticed in Paris where she married in 1650 the Marshal of France Philippe de La Mothe-Houdancourt. He died in 1657 leaving his widowed wife at age 34 and with little fortune. The Marechale de la Motte was little known at court. She spent the first years of her widowhood in the country. In 1664, Madame de Montpensier, who could not assume the two positions of Queen’s Lady of Honor and Monseigneur’s Housekeeper, offered the office of Governor of Monseigneur, son of Louis XIV, to the Maréchale de la Motte Houdancourt. She had her words “La Maréchale de la Motte is a good-looking woman… She has a good meal and honors the court, everyone was happy”.

Louise de Prie was governess of the royal children under Louis XIV and superintendent of their house. For these, his daughter, the Duchesse de Ventadour will succeed him. A charge that will be transmitted for three generations.

Inheriting the castle of Montpoupon on the death of his mother, Louise de la Motte Houdancourt abandoned the property, her office holding her at court. The estate will be leased by a farmer general who lived in the castle, Louis Debunon. Deceased in 1709, the Maréchale bequeathed the Montpoupon estate to her third daughter, Isabelle Gabrielle de la Motte Houdancourt, wife of Henry François Duke of Ferté Senneterre. The two spouses were on trial for many years, their disagreement was complete and they did not see each other. The duchess spent her life in court, where she had a great situation. This is Françoise Charlotte de la Ferte, their second daughter, who inherited the lordship of Montpoupon. She then passed on to the latter’s son, Philippe Louis, Marquis de la Ferte Senneterre. In 1763, lack of means to maintain the estate, the sale was decided. The Marquis de Tristan acquired Montpoupon for the sum of60,000 pounds.

The Marquis de Tristan
The House of Tristan is of illustrious extraction. It recognizes for author Charles Tristan knight lords Ostels, Baron Talcy who lived in the xii th century. Tristan occupied high offices and large loads.

Nicolas Tristan sold the land of Houssoy in Picardy to buy the seigneuries of Montpoupon and Luzillé. He had been a lieutenant, then captain of an infantry company in the Richelieu regiment. He had married in February 1732, Marguerite Judith des Champs. Upon his acquisition of Montpoupon, he canceled the lease of the farmer general Claude Defrance and immediately began work in the castle to restore its former splendor. The latter was in very bad condition because of the abandonment in which it had been left for many years, inhabited only by the farmers general since the death of Francoise Saint Gelais Lusignan in 1653. He could not carry out the work, dying in 1765. His eldest son, Nicolas Marie Tristan, inherited the castle of Montpoupon.

Nicolas Marie Tristan, said the Marquis de Tristan, lord of Montpoupon, Luzillé and other surrounding places was born August 30, 1733. He was knight of the Royal Order of Saint Louis, made the campaign of Italy from 1747 to 1748 and took part at the seven-year war. At the death of his father in 1765, he accepted his estate only under the benefit of inventory, substitution placed on the property of the marquis and the Marquise de la Ferte Senneterre having given him fears as to the validity of the sale performed in 1763. This sale was ratified in 1772 by the Marquis and Marquise de la Ferte.

The Marquis de Tristan settled at Orleans in 1771, but he came constantly to Montpoupon and had various repairs made. He covered the beams of the rooms with white plaster ceilings, enlarged the doors, destroyed the square tower of the south facade in which was the spiral staircase that went upstairs and built a wooden staircase and bricks at the place where today is the stone staircase. He also created the corridors on the floors. For the exteriors, he envisioned the creation of a French-style parterre in front of the north facade of the castle, on the ground that it only partially executed, most probably because of the troubles of the Revolution. This is how he created the half moon that we see now and the geometric shape of the fountain channel with a central bridge that was later destroyed.

The castle of Montpoupon crossed the revolutionary epoch without suffering too much. Only the chapel, located between the postern and the isolated tower, was entirely destroyed by the Jacobins of Franceuil. The stones from the demolition of this building remained a long time on site and some of them were used for the repairs of the castle. In the southern window recesses of the dining room and the Amboise room were found, in 1919, stones bearing very old paintings representing the Passion of the Christ and the arms of Prie.

Nicolas Marie de Tristan died in Orleans on August 7, 1820 at the age of 87 years. His widow kept the land of Montpoupon until his death in 1830. At the division of property in 1831, it was the eldest daughter of the couple, the Marquise de la Touanne, who inherited Montpoupon. The area of the estate was well diminished and consisted of only 486 hectares. Only a few short stays in Montpoupon were made by the Marquis and the Marquise de Touanne, they spent most of the year at the castle of Emerillon and Orleans. Yet they remained very attached to the land of Montpoupon. In 1834, the change in the route of the road from Montrichard to Loches was discussed. A first project was passing this new road at the foot of the big tower and near the fountain on the north side of the castle. The count of Touane formally opposed the project and preferred to accept the one that would raise the road in front of the gate of the castle.

At the death of the marquis in 1834, his heirs, not having for Montpoupon the same attachment, decided to sell the estate. March 02, 1836, the sale was made in favor of Mr. Benoit Lancelot Elisabeth Garnier Farville for the sum of 180,000 francs.

Monsieur Farville
Farville’s family was originally from Chartrain in Beauce. Lancelot Garnier de Farville had been an officer in the Royal Auvergne battalion, he had married Adélaïde Cécile Miron de la Motte and lived in the castle of Mareau-aux-Près in Loiret. The couple had three children, a son who died at the school of Saint-Cyr and two daughters.

In the inventory made in 1836 after the purchase of the castle, there are many pieces of furniture and paintings, which seems to indicate that part of the furniture of the Tristan family was bought by Monsieur de Farville. This was particularly the case for the tapestries of Beauvais that can be seen today in the castle or the furniture Louis XVI stamped Jacob in the living room.

Mr. de Farville worked to make Montpoupon a property of report by developing the crops, mills and metairies. He exploited himself some of his land and made larger common of the castle in 1840 to give them the appearance they are known nowadays.

Monsieur and Madame de Farville made several donations to the church of Céré-la-Ronde in 1840 and obtained, in 1843, the concession of the chapel of Saint-Etienne, to the right of the choir. They gave the church the altar and the balustrade are still in this chapel.

Towards the end of his life, in 1855, Mr. de Farville leased the main farm of Montpoupon adjoining the castle and installed in the current Commons. He died in Orleans onFebruary 5, 1856. His widow and his heirs sold the1 st April 1857, Land Montpoupon with all its dependencies with a capacity of five hundred hectares to Jean Baptiste Leon St. Pierre Motte, for the sum of 314,000 francs.

The family La Motte Saint-Pierre
Jean-Baptiste de la Motte Saint-Pierre was born on December 14, 1806 in Beauvais. Owner of the family castle of Argy, he was mayor of the town. Unfortunately, overly burdensome mortgages, mortgages and poor harvests made his financial situation difficult. He reluctantly decided to resell Argy’s property acquired in 1828. After several years a Belgian company acquired it in 1855.

Partially redeployed the money from the sale, Jean-Baptiste Léon de la Motte Saint-Pierre bought Montpoupon Castle on 1st April 1857 and came to live there with his wife Clementine. They immediately began work to restore the castle Renaissance aspect that we know today: installation of mullions, a stone staircase… Also having the heart to develop the field, Jean-Baptiste Léon de la Motte St. Peter decided to exploit his own land. He did it with little success and quickly gave up this task to his eldest son Émile. The latter became the owner Montpoupon the death of his father in 1872.

Emile Léon de la Motte Saint-Pierre was born on March 18, 1838 at Argy Castle. He studied in Paris and was admitted to the School of Water and Forests in 1857. Became general guard of Waters and Forests in Béarn, Gascony, then in Vierzon, he became available and settled with his wife Laure Gabrielle in Montpoupon in 1868. Upon their arrival at the castle, the couple did work to make comfortable and beautify their home: a chapel was built on the second floor of the postern, the kitchen found its place in the basement, a tower was erected and the roof was completely redone. By his training, Emile Léon de la Motte Saint-Pierre gave great importance to the area he enlarged by successive acquisitions. He arranged and repopulated the woods in fir, oak and birch. He received for this a price.

Emile Léon de la Motte Saint-Pierre also devoted himself to the village of Céré-la-Ronde on which depends the castle. He became mayor in 1874 and devoted himself to the town for 36 years.

Finally, in 1873 he founded, with the help of its neighbors, Montpoupon Crew. We started by hunting deer, and later deer.

At his death, May 10, 1912, his third son Bernard inherited the land of Montpoupon, his two other boys having given up the estate.

Bernard Charles Marie de la Motte Saint-Pierre, third son of Émile and Laure Gabrielle of Motte Saint-Pierre, was born on August 28, 1875 at the castle of Montpoupon. He was waved in the castle chapel the day after his birth. He was raised between Montpoupon and Paris. Engaged in military studies, he joined the 6 th Dragons Evreux and was soon named NCO. He married, in 1911, Thérèse Béeche é Irarrazaval of Chilean origin but raised in France. The August 2, 1914 Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre left to join his new regiment, the 25th Dragons d’Angers. Wounded, he was appointed captain of the 13 th Dragons on his return to the front in 1918 and until his discharge in March 1919.

During the war, Thérèse de la Motte Saint-Pierre managed the Montpoupon estate. She gave birth to her only daughter, Solange, the September 21, 1918.

As soon as he returned from the war, Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre undertook major modernization work at the château: installation of electricity, running water and central heating. His work enabled the castellans to discover certain elements of the castle like the painted beams that had been hidden by false ceilings. Bernard de la Motte St. Pierre also tied to remove the enclaves that existed on the field, exchanges or purchases.

During the Second World War, the castle was occupied for two weeks by an Austrian and German battalion. Warned of the approaching enemy troops, Real St. Pierre Motte had set their most valuable property in the dungeons of the tower of the xiii th century. The castellans did not leave the castle during the stay of the military. The demarcation line (the Cher) having been fixed on June 22, 1940. The soldiers retreated without causing damage.

On August 3, 1944, the Marquis de Coz, the so-called noble who spread terror in the region, burst into the courtyard of the castle and took Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre and his daughter hostage. Madame de la Motte Saint-Pierre not wanting to abandon them, they were all three taken to Brouard forest, near Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher. Freed by a ransom and the intervention of members of the resistance, the family of St. Peter Motte left some time after this episode Montpoupon experiencing.

After the war, life resumed at Montpoupon and with it the huntings. Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre, tired, decided to put down his crew on April 2, 1949. As early as 1951, he informed his daughter Solange about the estate’s business. He died at Montpoupon on July 6, 1956.

Solange de la Motte Saint-Pierre, daughter of Bernard and Thérèse de la Motte Saint-Pierre, was born at the Château de Montpoupon on 21 September 1918. Two rooms were fitted out on the third floor of the chateau: one for Solange and the other for his nurse who also served as a study room. A teacher came to Montpoupon on the fourth anniversary of Solange de la Motte Saint-Pierre. At the age of seven, Solange went to Paris to study at the School of Birds. She obtained her baccalaureate degree in 1936 and her law degree in 1939. She then joined the École du Louvre.

After the war, she began to take charge of Montpoupon’s affairs and inherited the estate upon the death of her father, her mother having given up the usufruct. It opened the castle to the public in 1971. Then were accessible the chapel, the library and a room at the level of the commons gathering the memories of the Montpoupon crew and the horse-drawn cars of the family. Being very involved in local life, Solange de la Motte Saint-Pierre was at the origin of the creation of the Chamber of Agriculture of Touraine, Gîtes du 37 but also the Route des Dames de Touraine.

In the 1990s, Solange de la Motte Saint-Pierre associates his grand-nephew, Count Amaury de Louvencourt, with the management of the castle. This last created in 1995 the museum of the Huntsman, located in the common ones of the castle. He became owner of the estate when his grand-aunt died in 2005. Many rooms of the castle are open to visitors over the years. Today, eleven furnished rooms are proposed to the visitors, a stroll in the park and about thirty rooms at the level of the museum.

The castle of Montpoupon and its dependencies have been inscribed historical monument on 1 st May 1930 then a part, the facades and the roofs of the castle and the tower known as Le Donjon were classified on January 28, 19662.

Simplified Timeline
9th century: Installing a Germanic clan, the Poppo
10th century: Building a castle under Fulk Nerra
13th century: Construction of the castle
14th century: Partial destruction of the castle during the Hundred Years War
1460: Construction of the current castle by Antoine de Prie on the ruins of previous constructions
1520: Construction of the postern
1763: Purchase of the castle by the Marquis de Tristan
1792: Destruction of the chapel during the French Revolution
1836: Purchase of the castle by Mr. Garnier de Farville
1840: Construction of the Commons
1857: Purchase of the castle by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Léon de la Motte Saint-Pierre
1860: Construction of the turret corner to the left of the castle
1905: Construction of the square tower on the right of the castle
1971: Opening of the castle to the public
1995: Opening of the Hunting Museum
2005: The Louvencourt succeed to the Motte Saint-Pierre
2009: Opening of the forest walk
2016: Opening of Private Apartments