Friday 26 October 2012

The Duchy of Valentinois

Valence is a commune in southeastern France, the capital of the Drôme department, situated on the left bank of the Rhône, c. 100 km south of Lyon on the railway to Marseilles. Its inhabitants are called Valentinois.

Diane ancestors were among the Comte de Valentinois:

  • ·      Guillaume de Poitiers (-1187)
  • ·      Aymar I de Poitiers (1187-1251)
  • ·      Aymar II de Poitiers (d1251-1277)
  • ·      Aymar III de Poitiers (1277-1329)
  • ·      Aymar IV de Poitiers (1329-1339)
  • ·      Louis I de Poitiers (1339-1345)

When Louis I de Poitiers died in 1345, Louis II, the son of his brother Aymar de Poitiers, became Comte de Valentinois.  Another of Louis’ brothers was Charles de Poitiers, Diane’s great grandfather.

With the permission of Charles de Poitiers, Louis II de Poitiers (d1445) instituted the Dauphin (the future Charles VII of France) as heir to Valentinois, to settle a debt of 50,000 crowns.  From my research, it appears that he expected it to be returned, but that was not the case.  King Louis XII raised Valentinois to a duchy, and on August 17, 1498, Cesare Borgia (d1507) became the first Duke of Valentinois.  His only legitimate child was a daughter, and the title became extinct.

In 1548, the year after he became King, Henri restored the title and lands to Diane, creating her the Duchesse de Valentinois for her life. This was much more than a gift; he was restoring to her the title which should have still been in her family. Upon Diane’s death in 1566 the title again was extinct, as she had no sons.

King Louis XIII of France re-created the title in 1642 for Honoré II, Prince of Monaco. On his death it passed to his son, and then to his grandson, Antoine. Since the title's inheritance was restricted to male heirs, and because Antoine had only daughters, it was due to pass his brother, François-Honoré Grimaldi, but became extinct yet again 1715, when François-Honoré forfeited his right to succeed Antoine. Antoine's eldest daughter and heiress, Louise-Hippolyte, married Jacques-François de Goyon-Matignon, who had signed a contract by which he was obliged to take the surname Grimaldi. Louis XV recreated the title of Valentinois for Jacques, who was to succeed his father-in-law Antoine as Prince Jacques I. After Jacques's abdication in 1733, the title passed uninterrupted for several generations from Prince to Prince --  from Jacques to Honoré III, Honoré IV, Honoré V, Florestan I, Charles III, Albert I. In 1919 Albert bestowed the title of Duchess of Valentinois upon his adopted granddaughter Charlotte, thenceforth known as Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois. In 1920, shortly after Charlotte's marriage to Pierre de Polignac, he took the title of Duke of Valentinois, having already changed his surname to Grimaldi.

Albert's son, Louis II never held the title of Valentinois himself, although he retained the right to succession. When Louis without a male heir in 1949, it became extinct. However, his successor, Rainier III, still claimed it and upon his death in 2005 the title passed to his son, now Albert II of Monaco.

  • ·      Honoré II, Prince of Monaco (1642–1662)
  • ·      Louis I (1662–1701)
  • ·      Antoine (1701–1715)
  • ·      Jacques I (1716–1733)
  • ·      Honoré III (1733–1793)
  • ·      Honoré IV (1814–1819)
  • ·      Honoré V (1819–1841)
  • ·      Florestan I (1841–1856)
  • ·      Charles III (1856–1889)
  • ·      Albert I (1889–1922)
  • ·      Princess Charlotte (1919–1977)
  • ·      Rainier III (1977–2005)
  • ·      Albert II (2005–Present)

Thursday 11 October 2012

Le Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

The charming community of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is located just under 12 miles from the centre of Paris. Henri was born On March 31, 1519, at six o’clock in the morning, at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, with Diane acting as midwife.  Although she had been there numerous times as lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude,  this royal residence now had a very special meaning to Diane.

Louis VI built the first castle on the site. It was enlarged several times, including an expansion by François I. When François I died in 1547, Henri and his court left for Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and it was here that Henri signed the decree giving Chenonceau to Diane.  It was also the site of the ill-fated duel between Jarnac and La Châtaigneraie.

As head of the Royal Nursery, Diane spent every summer at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Several of Henri and Catherine’s children were born there, and it was there, in 1550 that Louise de Brézé gave birth to one of Diane’s granddaughters, Catherine de Lorraine.

Henri’s most ambitious vision at Saint-Germain-en-Laye was construction of a separate structure, Le Châteauneuf de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which began in 1556.

After Henri’s death, Catherine’s astrologer predicted that she would die there, so she no longer used the residence. Instead, she died at the Château de Blois.

It currently houses the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale.

The terraced area as it appears today 

 By Adam Pérelle (1638-1695)

What Do Diane de Poitiers and James Bond Have in Common?

James Bond is celebrating his 50th anniversary, with the 23rd film due to be released in November 2012. What better time to look at Diane’s connection!

            Actually, there are two. In 1956 Roger Moore, one of the six actors to play James Bond, played Henri in “Diane,” opposite Lana Turner. See the blog entry for January 12, 2012:

            Diane’s other connection to James Bond is the film “Thunderball.” The pre-title sequence was shot at Anet on February 18-19, 1965 and was inserted into the final draft a month before principal production.

Sean Connery and Maryse Guy Mitsouko at Anet
In the sequence, James Bond (Sean Connery) attends the funeral of Jacques Boitier, who had murdered two British agents. The scene is filmed in the chateau’s chapel. Notice how Boitier rhymes with Poitiers?

The balcony and courtyard of the Chapel

When Bond realizes that the “widow” is Boitier in disguise, he follows him back to his home. This home is the main chateau, a stone's throw from the chapel, although we are to believe it was a limousine ride away.  We see Boitier enter Anet and ascend the staircase. He then enters a room where Bond is waiting for him, and a fight ensues. The valuable antiques were replaced by replicas, but watch carefully for the HD emblem! 

Bond is chased to the rooftop where his jetpack awaits. He escapes to the tune of the 007 theme, while we are treated to some beautiful shots of Anet’s main entrance!

As of the date of this writing, the following YouTube video of the opening sequence is available: