Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire’s story begins around the year 1000, when Eudes I, Count of Blois, had the fortress built on a hillside overlooking the river, in order to keep watch over the border between the counties of Blois and Anjou. In 1054, the château came into the possession of Sulpice I d’Amboise, and remained the property of the Amboise family for the next 500 years.
In 1550, during the Renaissance, Queen Catherine de’ Medici acquired Chaumont-sur-Loire, which was regarded at the time as one of the Loire Valley’s most profitable châteaux, receiving such noted astrologers as Ruggieri and Nostradamus there. Following King Henri II’s death, she disposed of the château to her former rival Diane de Poitiers, exchanging it for Château de Chenonceau. In 1750, the château passed into the hands of Jacques-Donatien Le Ray, an active sympathiser with American independence, who had Benjamin Franklin as a guest there, as well as the Italian artist Jean-Baptiste Nini, who oversaw the two factories that had had built on the estate and who depicted the United States’ “Founding Father” on his medallions.
In 1803, Napoleon I had his staunch opponent Germaine de Staël exiled; she was nonetheless able to enjoy Jacques Le Ray’s son’s hospitality and stayed at Chaumont-sur-Loire from April to August, overseeing the printing of her book “De l’Allemagne” in Tours.
In 1875, at the age of 17, Marie-Charlotte-Constance Say, the fabulously wealthy heiress of sugar magnate Louis Say, fell under the château’s spell and purchased it. She married Prince Henri-Amédée de Broglie the same year and, for the next half century, the luxurious residence became the setting for sumptuous banquets bringing together the crowned heads of Europe.