17th and 18th centuries: a citadel, residence of the French sovereigns

At the end of the 16th century, Amboise retained its function as a stronghold because of its strategic location, but became a residence for French sovereigns who stayed there during their travels around the kingdom. For example, Henri IV (1553- 1589- 1610), Louis XIII (1601- 1610-1643), Louis XIV (1638- 1643-1715) and Philippe Duke of Anjou (1683- 1700/1724-1746), his grandson, the future Philippe V of Spain.

In 1620, Louis XIII ordered the construction of new defences. However, due to lack of maintenance the château began to fall into disrepair. The main parts of the loggia inside the western part of the château (between the St. Hubert Chapel and the Charles VIII Loggia) were demolished between 1627 and 1660.

Amboise was also used as a prison. Famous prisoners were held there, for example Nicolas Fouquet (1615-1680), Louis XIV’s superintendent of finances, who was disgraced in 1661. He was accompanied to Amboise by the famous captain of the Musketeers, d’Artagnan (around 1615-1673).

Amboise finally awoke from its slumber in the 18th century thanks to Étienne-François, Duke of Choiseul (1719-1785), a powerful minister of Louis XV (1710- 1715-1774).

He became the property’s owner in 1763, at the same time as he built a sumptuous château in the style of the era, nearby in the domain of Chanteloup. He preferred living in the latter to the citadel of Amboise, where he installed workshops.

Gravure de Rigaud. Château en 1730
Engraving by Rigaud, The Château in 1730

On the death of Choiseul, the Crown bought his immense estate. Then in 1786, it was given to Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, Duke of Penthièvre (1725-1793), legitimate grandson of Louis XIV. From 1789, he refurbished the living areas. He went ahead with the destruction of the Great Hall’s columns and partitions. He created a panoramic dining room in the Minimes Tower. He ordered works in the gardens, during which the lime trees were planted in zigzags on the North terrace, and created an English-style park. On the fortress’s western corner, he built a Chinese-style pagoda on the Garçonnet tower.

In 1789, there was a fire in the Loggia of the Seven Virtues

The French Revolution definitively changed the Château’s destiny. In 1793, the authorities confiscated the Château and its contents in order to turn it into a detention centre and a barracks for veterans from campaigns led by the revolutionary armies. During this dismantling, essential elements of the Château’s decoration disappeared: panelling, fireplaces, statues, paintings, ironwork, woodwork, etc… After a fleeting hope that they might recover their belongings, the duke of Penthièvre’s heir, Louise-Marie-Adelaide, Duchess of Orléans, was exiled following the Coup d’État of 18 Fructidor in Year V (4th September 1797) due to the decree that obliged the Bourbons to leave France.