The most famous characters who made history in Harcourt

It was Bernard the Dane, descendant of the kings of Saxe and Danemark  whom was the first baron of Harcourt. In 917, he sent 300 soldiers from Harcourt  to help the duke of Normandy William, son of Rollo.

In 1078, twelve years after the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, Errand (or Enguerrand ), whom was a brother in arms of the famous Duke of Normandy comes back to Harcourt and rebuilt the castle. At that time, it was only an earth and wood castle.

One century later, Robert the 2nd built a stone castle more resistant. He also founds a chapel dedicated to St Thomas of Cantorbury (Thomas Beckett) in Harcourt, just right next to the castle. It was the place of burial for the family but nowadays, only the name of the place subsists.

In 1338, the barony of Jean IV of Harcourt is erected in County by the king of France Philippe 6th of Valois.

Just a few years later on 1346 august 26th, during the Battle of Crecy, two brothers of the Harcourt family fought, but not together. More, against one another.  Geoffroy of Harcourt was in the English army and Jean IV of Harcourt was in  the French army.  Jean IV died during this battle and Geoffroy was so remorseful that he joined later the French troops.

Another Count of Harcourt was a victim of the English and French quarrel: because of his relationship with Charles of Navarre (Count of Evreux, whom was a support of the English King), the unfortunate Jean V of Harcourt was decapited in 1356 under the order of the King of France, Jean le Bon.

After the capture of the count Jean VII in Azincourt in 1415, it was the turn of the Harcourt’s castle to be taken by the English army after only 3 weeks of siege led by the Duke of Clarence, brother of the king of England, Henri V.

After 34 years, and with the recapture of the Normandy by the French King Charles VII, a new battle took place around the castle. John Talbot, the military chief was gone in direction of Pont Audemer and only 27 soldiers had stayed into the fortress. It was such a good opportunity for Dunois, the French lieutenant of Charles VII to  besiege the castle and force the English to capitulate! The castle came back to his owner, Jean VII of Harcourt.

Louis-Gervais Delamarre [1766-1827]

Well, after so many battles, let’s talk about love with the marriage of Antoine de Vaudémont and Marie of Harcourt. They got married in 1416 and with that alliance, the castle became property of the famous Family Of Lorraine.

Around 1700, a lot of rearrangements, inside and outside the castle, have been directed by Françoise de Brancas. This woman was the confidante of Madame de Maintenon, the first mistress of the King Louis XIV and she decided to upgrade the old medieval castle. She also created gardens “à la française” on the east side of the castle.

In 1802, after the French revolution, Louis Gervais Delamarre bought the castle, almost in ruins.  From 1811, he plants pines for a wood business and step by step, he begins the forest experiments by planting exotic species like Weymouth pines, laricio pines, etc….

In 1833, an arboretum of collection is created by François André Michaux and other famous botanists like Pépin or Vilmorin continued to plant trees during more than a century! Currently, the collection of trees is about 460 species.

Since 1999, the arboretum and the castle are the property of the council of the Eure. From March 1st to November 15th, the visitors can walk through History and discover a millenial place surrounded by old and remarquable trees.

The domain of Harcourt is just a magical and romantic place for everyone, and let me tell you:  if only the stones could speak…

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