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Fontainebleau

 

Fontainebleau is a French commune located in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region, 57 kilometers south-east of Paris.

Its inhabitants are called the Bellifontains (by incorrect etymology, that is to say popular etymology), although the historical gentile of the inhabitants of Fontainebleau is Fontainebleaudiens.

 

History

In 2012, a Gallic village which would date between thirty and two hundred and fifty years before our era is brought to light during the maintenance of one of the squares of the castle of Fontainebleau, the occupation of the site continuing at least until after the Carolingian period, but the first mention of the castle itself dates from 1137: it was then a fortified castle used as a hunting ground in the forest of “Bieria” (thus 'was called the Forest of Fontainebleau, perhaps from the ninth century until recently - Jean-Baptiste Colbert still used this name in a document dated 1664 - because a band of Danish warriors led by a certain "Bier »Stayed there, committing abuses in the region, perhaps during or after the fourth siege of Paris by the Vikings, in 885-887).

A chapel was integrated into the castle and consecrated in 1169 by Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, then in exile in France.

Saint Louis, who greatly appreciated the place, called it “his deserts”, had a convent-hospital built next to the fortified castle, run by monks.

Philippe le Bel was born in the castle in 1268 and died there in 1314.

Philippe VI sealed a treaty with John I of Bohemia there: the latter, honoring the contract, fought the English at the battle of Crécy, and lost his life there.

However, the place was little more than a hamlet until 1528, when François Ier, returning to France after spending a year in captivity in Spain (after his defeat at Pavia in 1525), decided to build there. a palace inspired by those he saw in Italy, and appealed to renowned Italian artists: the fortified castle disappears - there remains the keep, remodeled, massive construction of square shape, which borders the "Oval Court" .

The city - as well as Avon - quickly took advantage of repeated visits from the Court and the kings, quickly welcoming restaurants and inns whose rooms were rented out at high prices.

When the Court is not in Fontainebleau, the city continues to live thanks to constant works of embellishment, of the castle and the city: workers and artists live there all year round.

After François Ier, another of his great benefactors was Henri IV: from 1594 he stayed there every year, having the castle embellished and enlarged, the grand canal dug, roads and paths laid out in the forest to facilitate travel, especially during hunting days ...

The future François II was born in Fontainebleau in 1544, the future Henri III in 1551, the future Louis XIII in 1601, as well as several princesses and high figures, including Louis Victoire Lux de Montmorin-Saint-Hérem, who would end up assassinated in Paris during the September massacres in 1792.

The city was the delight of Elisabeth-Charlotte of Bavaria - Princess Palatine - and had nearly 7,000 inhabitants in the 17th century. It then housed around thirty private mansions built for great lords, like that of the “Grand Ferrare” - of which only the entrance gate remains today - the residence of Hippolyte d'Este.

In 1661, a racing horse overturned and dragged its rider for several tens of meters at high speed, one of his feet caught in a stirrup. Sieur Dauberon summoned Notre-Dame, his horse stopped dead. In 1690 a first chapel was built on the place of the miracle - named “Notre-Dame de Bon Secours”, an annual pilgrimage was established there -, razed in 1793 by revolutionaries, rebuilt in 1821 at the initiative of Marie-Thérèse de France. The pilgrimage still exists.

On October 18, 1685, Louis XIV signed the Edict of Fontainebleau, better known under the designation of "revocation of the Edict of Nantes", which drove many Protestants into exile, but put an end to constant tensions in the kingdom. between Catholics and Reformed.

He also had an exceptional set of basins and water jets, of which only vague traces remain, in the “large meadow” which partly runs along the “grand canal”.

On September 5, 1725, Louis XV and Marie Leszczynska got married at the castle.

The inhabitants having always benefited from royalty, which made them enrich themselves, the Revolution left no notable memories here, except the destruction of the chapel.

The Empire will wake up this sleepy city: Napoleon I settles in the castle and has it renovated. Old mansions are also being restored, and some have been transformed into tourist hotels, such as "l'Aigle Noir". Barracks were built to house the hussar regiments of the Imperial Guard, and a military school was also created, which would then be relocated to Saint-Cyr-l'École then to Coëtquidant (Guer).

On October 29, 1807, Manuel Godoy, chancellor of King Charles IV of Spain, and Napoleon signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which authorized the passage of French troops through Spanish territory in order to invade Portugal.

 

On June 20, 1812, Pope Pius VII arrived at the castle: he excommunicated the emperor on June 10, 1809, was arrested on the night of July 5 to 6, 1809 and placed under surveillance in Savona, before being taken to Fontainebleau. He is accompanied by the surgeon-doctor Balthazard Claraz, and remained voluntarily locked up for the nineteen months that his captivity lasted: from June 20, 1812 to January 23, 1814 the Pope never left his apartment.

On April 20, 1814, Napoleon, shortly after his first abdication, bade farewell to his guard - the famous grognards - in the Cour du Cheval Blanc - which has since become “Cour des Adieux” -: the moment was, according to witnesses, very moving. Two children of the city will follow him during his two exiles: The Archambault brothers.

After the fall of the First Empire, the castle was still inhabited in dotted lines by Napoleon III, from 1856 to 1869: on December 15 and 16, 1856 he welcomed the Prince Royal of Prussia, the future William I there.

In 1845 a prison was built in town, which closed in January 1990.

A total of 34 sovereigns, from Louis VI the Fat to Napoleon III, have stayed in Fontainebleau over the course of seven centuries. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, all the kings, from François I to Louis XV, carried out important works there (demolition - reconstruction - expansion - embellishment), hence the somewhat "heterogeneous", but nevertheless harmonious, character of the castle architecture.

Today, the city and its castle are visited all year round by tourists from all over the world ...

From June 29 to July 1, 1895, a large national fire pump maneuvering competition with ambulance and wounded rescue operations was organized in Fontainebleau. This competition attracted 140 companies. On this occasion, the general assembly of the Departmental Union of Sapeurs-Pompiers de Seine-et-Marne took place.

On May 8, 1913, King Alfonso XIII of Spain was on an official visit to Paris. He was received in Fontainebleau by the President of the Republic, Raymond Poincaré, who notably showed him around the castle. The king, without abdicating, goes into exile in France and arrives in the neighboring town of Avon with his family and settles in the Hotel "Le Savoy"

In July and August 1946, the city hosted the Franco-Vietnamese conference in Fontainebleau to find a solution to the Indochinese conflict: it would be a failure.

Fontainebleau, faithful to its military tradition, remained a garrison town for a long time: it was the headquarters of the staff of the Allied forces in Central Europe (Allied Force Center, AFCENT), of the land forces (LANDCENT) and air forces ( AIRCENT) of NATO from 1949 to 1967.

The city is currently home to a major business school which has given it international fame: INSEAD, as well as an annex to the École des mines de Paris.