500th anniversary of the Renaissance in Loire Valley

During our schooling, History lessons peruse through a long period, extending from Prehistory to the Cold War. A few dates make their mark in the middle of this incredibly rich past and frequently remain engraved in a corner of our minds.

The Renaissance, starting point of the modern era

The Renaissance in Loire Valley was a period with two highly-distinct faces. It is associated with a joyous, creative spirit embracing artistic development and opening up to the world, including the discovery of the Americas in 1492, perceived as an Earthly paradise. But it also stood out for its dominating culture which led to religious clashes and wars between great powers. This reasoning led Francis I of France to win the Battle of Marignano in 1515 during the Italian Wars.

A sovereign court society developed which would help consolidate royal powers by providing the State with its key agents. Castles boasted their magnificence and cast aside their defensive contingencies preferring instead gardens imagined and set out like real outdoor salons. AmboiseLe Clos LucéChâteau GaillardChenonceauAzay-le-RideauI’IsletteVillandryUsséLangeaisle RivauMontrésor… all bear architectural details which link them to this period.

Château of Chenonceau - Renaissance

Château of Chenonceau

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Loire Valley was at the very heart of the Kingdom of France, and would be the first to benefit from architectural developments which had emerged in Italy. Symmetry, pattern harmony, open to the outside, influence from Antiquity: The Loire chateaux (as well as some civil and religious buildings), built or transformed pursuant to these new standards, are now invaluable witnesses of this time.

Francis I, a King who was key to the Renaissance in Val de Loire

Francis I, great king both literally and figuratively speaking, remains inseparable from the architectural heritage of the Loire chateaux and the Renaissance in Loire Valley. A lover of art, he resided for half of his 32-year reign along the banks of the royal river and pursued the work undertaken by Charles VIII and Louis XII in the royal Château d’Amboise.

He was the driving force behind the Renaissance wing of the Château de Blois and the construction of the Château de Chambord, whose famous staircase is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, it was by invitation from the King of France that the Italian genius spent his last three years at the Clos Lucé, in Amboise. Francis I, a great benefactor, granted da Vinci a comfortable pension and appointed him First Painter, Engineer and Architect to the King.

Château of the Clos Lucé

Château of the Clos Lucé

Leonardo da Vinci in the Royal Château of Amboise

Leonardo da Vinci in the Royal Château of Amboise

500th anniversary of the Renaissance: “Viva Leonardo da Vinci!”

Leonardo da Vinci passed away in the Clos Lucé, in Amboise, in 1519 at the same time as Chambord was being built. In Italy, a baby girl and future Queen of France was born: Catherine de Medici.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance, a rich programme of events is taking shape to punctuate the whole of 2019. Named “Viva Leonardo da Vinci!”, it will be unveiled soon!

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