France Leonardo Da Vincis Home by the Loire

In France during the reign of Louis XI (1107-1115), the Chateau du Clos-Luce was built on Gallo-Roman foundations. After completion, the king gave the residence of pink brick to his favorite, Etienne le Loup, a cook's assistant he had ennobled. At that time, the estate was called the Manoir du Cloux and was surrounded by fortifications, the sole remnants of which are the remains of the watchtower. Etienne Le Loup also had a large dovecote which could house 500 pigeons; it is still intact at the bottom of the park.When Charles VIII of France bought the chateau in July 1490, he made it a royal residence and it was to remain so for two centuries. While the Royal family and their Court continued to reside at the Château d'Amboise in the Loire Valley, their secondary residence was the Manoir du Cloux.

Charles VIII had the chapel built here for the Queen, Anne de Bretagne, in mourning for her children who died young.In later years, the young Duke of Angouleme, the future Francis I, organized war games in the gardens of the Clos-Lucé. The sister of Francis I, Marguerite de Navarre, wrote the first erotic stories of "L'Heptaméron" there. It was under Francis I that Le Clos-Lucé became the house symbolising the Renaissance movement in France.

Francis I had painters, architects and poets, such as Clément Marot, brought here on the advice of his sister, all of whom were seeking royal protection. But Leonardo da Vinci was undoubtedly the greatest of those to cross the threshold of Le Clos Lucé.Le Clos Lucé is one of the jewels of the Renaissance. It is the only chateau to have been built of both brick and tufa stone (with the exception of Le Plessis-les-Tours), extracted from the region's quarries.

It is also one of the best furnished residences in the Val de Loire. Apart from the hovel where he was born in Vinci, Le Clos Lucé was the only home of Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, Leonardo da Vinci spent his life between Florence, Milan and Rome, offering his services as engineer, architect and artist to the rulers of the day, who acted as his protectors. He lived at Le Clos Luce for 3 years and ended his days there.It was in 1516 Francis I brought Leonardo da Vinci to the Château de Cloux and installed him there, again on the advice of his sister, Marguerite de Navarre.

Leonardo da Vinci traveled across the Alps, carrying with him on muleback three of his most remarkable paintings. These were the Mona Lisa, St. Anne and St. John the Baptist, which he completed at Le Clos Lucé. A pension of 700 golden Ecus a year was granted him by the king and Leonardo was "free to think, dream and work".

Leonardo da Vinci was treated with real affection by Francis I who called him "my father", his sister Marguerite and the whole Court. He found a very special inspiration there, which he passed on to his disciples, while teaching them his techniques. He did his utmost to pass on his knowledge to them until the end of his life.A multidisciplinary genius, Leonardo da Vinci made some extraordinary scientific discoveries and invented machines that were four centuries in advance. Leonardo's first interest was in the military domain, studying arms and machines of war. It seems he was the first to have had the idea of a submachine gun, at the time of the siege of Florence by the pontifical troops in 1470.

His studies extended to numerous domains, such as hydraulics, mechanics and aeronautics. After having observed birds for a long time and studied their flight, Leonardo constructed a sort of glider with articulated wings inspired by the wings of a bat. He imagined also the principle of the parachute and vertical elevation by an inclined fan blade, anticipating the helicopter.In the model gallery at Clos Lucé, the 40 machines of Leonardo da Vinci are exhibited, reconstructed by IBM after the drawings of the genius, amongst which figure the first car, the metric counter, the paddle steamer and the double-hulled vessel.Leonardo da Vinci carried out various commissions for the king as designer of Court festivals, architect, civil engineer (studies for the Canal de Romorantin, locks on the Loire), military engineer, town planner, advisor.

After writing "No being disappears into the void" and asking for holy sacrament, Leonardo da Vinci died at Le Clos Lucé on 2nd May 1519 at the age of 67. In a will drawn up by Maître Guillaume Boreau, Notary of the Royal Court, he left all his books, painting instruments and drawings to Francesco Melzi and a fine coat to Mathurine, his serving-woman.In the 1960s a major restoration was started at Clos Lucé to restore its Renaissance atmosphere. The aim was to leave it, both architecturally and in terms of interior décor, as Leonardo da Vinci would have known it.

Thanks to the skilled craftsmen working on wood, stone and glass, the home of Leonardo once again looks as it did centuries ago. Leonardo's kitchen (the old guardroom) then the great Council Chamber, the underground rooms where the 40 machines can be seen and Leonardo da Vinci's bedchamber and, last but not least, the chapel and its frescoes, have, one by one, been restored to the way they used to look.Amboise is situated on the Loire about twenty kilometers due east of Tours on N152. The Château and the Hall are open daily all year round (except 25 December and 1 January). The landscaped itinerary is open daily from 1 March to 15 November inclusive.

.Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Travel.Article Source:

By: Michael Russell

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