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Blois (Municipality, Loir-et-Cher, France)

Last modified: 2015-04-05 by ivan sache
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Flag of Blois - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 February 2002

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Presentation of Blois

The municipality of Blois (45,903 inhabitants in 2012; 3,746 ha) is located on river Loire.

In the Middle Ages, the Counts of Blois were powerful lords, who fought against their neighbours, the Counts of Anjou, for the domination on the region. In 1392, the last Count of Blois sold his County to Louis, Duke of Orléans and brother of King of France Charles VI (1380-1422. The Duke set up his court to Blois, where he died in 1407.
Louis' elder son, Charles (1394-1465), had a very sad life. Captured in 1415 during the battle of Ajincourt, he would spend 25 years in captivity in England. Back to Blois, he modernized the old feudal castle where he spent the rest of his life in voluntary reclusion. He set up in Blois a brilliant court and has remained famous for his refined poems (ballad and rondeaux).
King Louis XII, the son of Charles d'Orléans, moved the Royal court from Amboise to Blois. The King and his wife, Ann of Brittany (1477-1514), modified the castle in the Italian style. Their daughter, Claude of France (1499-1524), married next King of France, François I (1515-1547). After Claude's funeral, celebrated in 1526, once the King had returned from the Italian Wars, François I never came back to Blois.

In 1588, Duke Henri de Guise "le Balafré" (Scarface) (1549-1588), Lieutenant General of the Kingdom, forced King Henri III (1574-1589) to gather the State Generals. Guise, nicknamed "the King of Paris", was the chief of the Holy League, a Catholic political and religious movement that expected to overthrow the King. Guise was backed up by most of the 500 representatives at the State generals and by the King of Spain. To save his throne, Henri III ordered the assassination of his rival. Duke of Guise's assassination in the castle of Blois is one of the most famous scense of popular French history.
On 23 December 1588 in the morning, the King sent to Guise a servant requiring him to come into his private office. Guise left the Council's Room and walked over the King's bedroom to the King's office. Before he could have entered the office, Guise was attacked by eight swordsmen. He killed four of them and injured a fifth one before being murdered. Guise walked over the room to the King's bed and fell down, saying Miserere mei Deus. A letter saying "In order to spread the civil war in France, we shall need 700,000 pounds per day" was found in Guise's pocket. Henri III is said to have given Guise's body a slap in the face and to have said "My God, he looks even taller dead than alive". The next day, Cardinal of Lorraine, Guise's brother, was murdered in his jail. Their bodies were burned and their ashes thrown away into the river Loire. King Henri III was murdered eight months later by the fanatic monk Jacques Clément.

In 1626, King Louis XIII (1610-1643) gave the County of Blois and the Duchies of Orléans and Chartres to his brother Gaston, Count d'Eu and Duke d'Orléans (1608-1660). A serial plotter, Gaston d'Orléans was the main opponent to the powerful Cardinal of Richelieu (1585-1642), the King's Prime Minister. Gaston d'Orléans attempted several times to murder him, experiencing sucessive episodes of exile and reconciliation. In 1642, following his last plot, he was eventually deprived from his rights to the throne. After Richelieu's death, he turned his plotting activity against his successor, Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661). Between 1648 and 1652, Gaston d'Orléans supported the Fronde, the noble's uprising against Mazarin that took place during Louis XIV's minority. After the defeat of the Fronde, Gaston d'Orléans was eventually exiled in his castle of Blois, where he ended his life in prayer and repentance.
In March 1814, the Regency Government of Marie-Louise of Habsburg-Lorraine (1791-1847), Emperess of the French and Napoléon I's second wife, was set up in Blois.

Blois is the birth town of Robert-Houdin (1805-1871), conjurer, scientist, clockmaker and writer. He invented several electric clockworks with weird names such as the Horloge-Mère (Mother-Clockwork) or the Pendule Mystérieuse (Mysterious Clock); and of Auguste Poulain, founder of the chocolate factory Poulain (1848).

Ivan Sache, 16 February 2002

Flag of Blois

The flag of Blois, as communicated by the municipal administration, is white with the municipal logo in the middle.

Ivan Sache, 16 February 2002