The Duchy of Uzès is built on an old Roman “Castrum” (camp) which became the residence of the Governor in the first millennium. These wooden constructions have not survived. We do know that Dhuoda, Duchess of Septimanie was exiled here by her husband Bernard in the middle of the ninth century, and that she was the first woman in the Occident to write a book. It was a manual for the education of her son, and it still exists.
The architecture of the Duke’s chateau, named the Duchy is a potted history of France. The Middle-Ages, the Renaissance, the 17th century, and modern times are all there. Despite this, the ensemble is pleasing to the eye.
During the difficult times of the Revolution the building was considered as belonging to the nation, and sold. It was much misused, and ended as a school.
In 1824 the Duke bought back the Duchy of Uzès from the townspeople (the writer André Gide was one of them) who in buying it had actually protected it. In 1834 a new school was build in Uzes and the Duke set about restoring the Duchy of Uzès.
The first part of the 20th century saw sad days for the Duchy of Uzès. In financial difficulty, the Duke sold the furnishings and rented the Duchy of Uzès to the Board of Education who once again installed a school. They did not fulfil their obligation to care for the building and concreted both inside and out.
From 1951 the widowed Marchioness of Crussol set about restoring the Duchy of Uzès that she had re-acquired with the help of the Fine Arts Ministry. Aided by her friend André Malraux, Minister of Culture under General de Gaulle, whom she had met in her Political Society Gatherings, she had the town of Uzes classed in 1964 as a heritage site, which greatly helped it after two centuries of being forgotten.
Her grandson and his wife, the present Duke and Duchess of Uzes, are continuing the work started by the Marchioness. Since then major work has been done to the building, and furnishings and objects are regularly added to enrich the collections for the pleasure of the visitor. The Duchy of Uzès is a rare example in the 21st century of a family castle being completely restored.
Information curtesy of The Duchy of Uzès
Official Website: www.uzes.com
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