A bit more on Anet!

Moving right along in my road warrior trips, and an amateur of history, European especially and of course French too I search for places of historical and architectural value as well. One of the leading figures of this history was Diane de Poitiers, and she is very much in Anet. Anet is located in the department of Eure-et-Loir, no 28 in the Centre-Val de Loire region. The towns is located 15 km from Dreux and Houdan, two towns near the national road N12; which is my main route for the last few years to go to Paris area. Anet, however, is best known for its castle, built by Philibert Delorme under Henri II for Diane de Poitiers (see post).

You can come by car from Paris leaving Porte Maillot and taking the A13 (autoroute de normandie) direction Rouen, go out at exit/sortie 12 towards Mantes Sud and follow the D928 all the way to Anet. This has never been visited by train but its possible. I have done a lot on the castle , let me tell you more about the history of Anet and all associated with it briefly of course.  New older photos too. Hope you enjoy it as I do.

Anet is known under current name from 1608. This name seems to derive from the Gallic Ana or swamp with the diminutive  Roman suffix as small swamp. Or rather Anet is a small swap meaning ! The town was part of the forest of Crothais, currently encircling and including the town of Dreux.

Going way back in time we have under the Merovingians monarchies of the 6C to 8C, the forests cleared, the city of Carnutes, more populated, divided into several countries or pagi governed by a count . At the expense of the cities of Chartres and Evreux was formed the country Madrie or Pagus madracensis in which Anet began to populate. Under the Carolingians monarchies of the 8C to 10C, the  county of Madrie is often mentioned in connection with the Missies (sort of inspection of towns). The country of Madrie and Maine are joined to the seven counties which will form, a century later, Normandy.  Anet, meanwhile, had particular lords from the second half of the 11C, the Goël lords of Ivry, also masters of Bréval.  Anet thus enters the great history with Philippe-Auguste, son of Louis VII, king of France, that his father associated with the throne in 1179, at the age of 14 years. We find in effect in the Louvre ordinances letters from Philippe-Auguste given to Anet in 1192, the 13th year of his reign, by which he exempts the inhabitants of Anet, as being of his immediate jurisdiction, from all tolls and tax. Then he resides there in April and November 1195!. In 1404, Charles III of Navarre ceded definitively to the king of France the counties of Evreux and Mantes as well as Anet.

Anet chateau d'Anet front

I call it the Romantic period at Anet. Pierre de Brézé was killed at the battle of Montlhéry in July 1465 and his son Jacques succeeded him and built around 1470 the manor of Anet. In 1462, he married Charlotte de France, natural sister of King Louis XI and daughter of Charles VII and Agnès Sorel. When Jacques died in 1494 an estimate…, Or rather when he was confiscated in 1477 for the murder of his wife Charlotte, his son Louis de Brézé, grandson of Charles VII, became the owner of Anet. Louis married in second marriage on March 29, 1514 at the age of 55, with Diane de Poitiers, born September 3, 1499 ,therefore only 15 years old!!. Diane, who is often called the great seneschal of Normandy) was only 32 years old when Louis de Brézé died on July 23, 1531 in Anet. Diane owned Anet until her death on April 25, 1566 at the castle. In 1535, she became the favorite of the future Henri II; when he ascended the throne in 1547, he covered her with brilliant favors: he offered her Chenonceaux, gave her the title of Duchess of Valentinois, and 1547-1552 had Anet rebuilt by three of the greatest artists of the century: architect Philibert Delorme, sculptor Jean Goujon and painter Jean Cousin le Jeune. On Diane’s death, Anet returned to her daughter, Louise de Brézé, duchess of Aumale by her marriage to Claude II, then to her son, Charles de Lorraine. By letters patent of King Henri III, given in February 1583, the Châtellenie d’Anet was erected in a principality.


And then, the story continues at Anet.  Charles of Lorraine duke of Aumale having revolted against Henri IV, Anet was confiscated then given to a creditor of Charles, Marie de Luxembourg , duchesse de Penthièvre and princess of Martigues in inheritance from her father Sébastien, duchesse de Mercœur by her marriage to Philippe-Emmanuel de Lorraine. She offered it in 1592 to her only daughter Marie-Françoise de Lorraine-Mercœur , who married in 1609 César, duke of Vendôme and Étampes, natural son of Henri IV and Gabrielle d’Estrées. On the death of Caesar in 1665, Anet returned to his son Louis, then to his grandson Louis-Joseph duc de Vendôme et d’Étampes, comte de Dreux. Louis-Charles sold Anet to Louis XV in 1773 , but reserved the usufruct until his death in 1775. On that date King Louis XVI, therefore had to become the owner of Anet, but the enormous price of the transaction of 1773 not having been regulated, it had to yield it the same year by means of arrangement to Louis de Bourbon , duke of Penthièvre, grand admiral of France, son of the count of Toulouse and by there grandson of Louis XIV, nephew of the Duke of Maine Louis-Auguste, first cousin and heir to Louis-Auguste and Louis-Charles de Bourbon-Maine, all mentioned above. The Duke of Penthièvre was the last lord of Anet. He died on March 4, 1793 in Bizy.

And of course ,the French revolution came and change everything.  Upon his death, the Duke of Penthiévre left his estates to his daughter, Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon, duchess of Orléans. Five weeks later, her property was confiscated by the revolutionary government. The Château d’Anet, placed in receivership, remains maintenance-free. In 1794, the furniture was sold at auction. On June 10, 1795, Moulins, commissioner of the General Security, had the desecration of Diane de Poitiers‘ tomb desecrated. The vault is opened and the coffin forced. Its contents are promptly transported to the village cemetery. On February 1, 1798, the estate was sold in four lots! In 1820, the empty and abandoned castle was returned to Marie-Adélaïde de Bourbon, Duchess of Orleans, who died in 1821. Her son, Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, faced with the scale of the repairs to be undertaken, sold it in 1823 to Louis-François Passy. In 1840, still in poor condition, the Château d’Anet was acquired by Count Adolphe de Riquet de Caraman, who undertook a first restoration campaign there. In 1860, following the Caraman’s reversal of fortune, Anet was bought by Parisian stockbroker Ferdinand Moreau, who led a second work campaign from 1863. In 1914-1918, his widow, his daughter, heiress of the castle in 1884, and his son-in-law Count Guy de Leusse, installed there, like other French castles, an auxiliary hospital of the Red Cross was installed during WWI. In 1944 ,the castle was given to his granddaughter, Mme Charles de Yturbe. Jean and Alexandra de Yturbe have owned it since 1998. A private and inhabited property, the château, its courtyard and the chapel are open to visitors. Finally, in 2010, the remains of Diane de Poitiers were exhumed to be replaced in the tomb in the castle, during a public ceremony.


City of Anet on heritage in French : City of Anet on heritage

Tourist office of Eure et Loir dept 28 on Anet in French: Tourist office of Eure et Loir dept 28 on Anet

And this is the story of a seldom visited but unique history of my belle France, worth the detour easy from the A13 famous Normandy road. The Château d’Anet at Anet is unique and the town very pleasant with a great market day we enjoyed very much. Hope you like the story and do come.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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