Monday, April 10, 2017

Château Les Bonshommes

In 1583, at the request of Catherine de Medici, a country house inspired by the ancient villas of Italy was built under the direction of the architect Étienne Dupérac. The Queen Mother expanded the house east of the enclosure of Les Bonshommes (the snowmen). Later this house took the name of "L'ermitage" or "Beauregard". In the 17th century, the houses was acquired by Pierre Jeanin. Then in 1630 it was acquired by the Marechal Bassompierre. In 1651 the Convent of the Order of the Visitation was founded by Queen Henriette of England and this was where she was buried. The house was destroyed during the French Revolution.

I found the first reference to this house on pp 332-333 of Loyal in Love by Jean Plaidy. The exiled Queen Henriette of England describes it as a fine country house on the hill at Chaillot that was given to Maréchal Bassompierre by Louis XIII. After Bassompierre’s death it stood empty. Her sister-in-law, Queen Anne tells her that “I have asked the price. It is six thousand pistoles.” It was purchased by Queen Anne so that Queen Henriette could found a convent there. We also learn that, “The windows overlooked the Seine and the Avenue of the Cours La Reine.” 

I don't know when the house took the name of "L'ermitage" or "Beauregard" but on the 1620 3D view of Paris below “46. Les Bonshomes” seems to correspond to the house’s location. (Two steeples are visible to the left and right of the house location). Also my 1761 map of the environs of Paris shows a convent in what seems to be (more or less) the same location. (The convent is between the churches of Chaillot and Passy to its east and west.) The convent is labeled “B Homes” which given the conventions and erratic spellings of the period is probably a variant spelling of Bonshomes.

39    Les Fuilans or Le Saint Fuilans
40    Les Capucins
45    La Riviere de Seine
46    Les Bonshomes

Presumably in the 3D drawing above the steeples left and right of #46 are the churches of Passy (left or west) and Chaillot (right or east). I haven’t found a solid reference to the house’s actual name so for now I have called it Château Les Bonshommes after the name on the map above.
The house is located on the Right Bank (north side) of the river Seine about a mile east of the eastern edge of the Tuileries Gardens between the churches of Passy and Chaillot. (detail from the 1761 Environs de Paris by Vaugondy). 

Although the image is blurry the house appears on the right labeled “Labons.” This is a detail from from a 1565 Paris in Franckreich Campaigne plan from the Bibiothèque nationale de France.
Note that this house should not be confused with the Château de Chaillot located in Vierzon, France.

Below are two more images of Les Bonshommes from details of two other period maps.

The above is a detail from the 1553 Plan of Paris by Truschet and Hoyau. The name “lesbonsbommes” is clearly seen. Given the variety of spellings in the 16th century this is quite close to the current spelling of Les Bonshommes.

For use as source material for an historical campaign I've included a link to a PDF version of this post.


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