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History Of Chateau Fontainebleau

Updated on October 25, 2009

History Of Chateau Fontainebleau

Drawn by the excellent hunting in the 62,000 acres of Fontainebleau forest, the Capetian Kings established a hunting lodge here as far back as the 12th century.

In 1528 it was transformed into a Royal residence by Francis I, who brought in Italian designers, sculptors and architects to give overhaul the building and give it a Renaissance feel.

Le Notre, who landscaped Versailles, did much of the work laying out the gardens here, too.

Napoleon preferred the Chateau Fontainebleau to Versailles, calling it the “House of Eternity”, and made it his military HQ - here he was free of the overwhelming presence of Louis XIV, and the Chateau Fontainebleau became France’s 2nd Palace.

Napoleon held Pope Pius VII ‘prisoner’ here, as a gesture of contempt for Church authority.  Napoleon had taken the crown from Pius’ hands and crowned himself Emperor at his coronation in Notre Dame, a symbolic statement that he did not need Church authority or blessing to rule.  By not allowing Pius to return to Rome to protest this, Napoleon simply confirmed his position.

The parade ground in front of the grand staircase is known as the “Farewell Court”, as this is where Napoleon conceded defeat in 1814, and addressed his troops following his abdication.

It is also where he rallied what remained of the Grand Army in 1815 during the “Hundred Days” when he tried to retake power, before heading off to his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

In 1944 British Allied Command used the Chateau Fontainebleau as their base for co-ordinating the liberation of Europe.

Between 1947 - 1967 served as NATO HQ.

My name is Robee Kann, for four years I was a tour guide throughout Europe. I loved my job and I would love to hear from you. You are most welcome to message me to say hello or request a hub about a European subject. Please look at my other hubs and leave a comment for me.

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      Lady_Tenaz 6 years ago

      Very nice! You say the Capetians set that land up as a hunting lodge, do you know which of the Capetians did this?