Sunday, January 18, 2015

Luxarazzi 101: Château de Clervaux

Photo: Jean-Pol Grandmont / Wikimedia Commons
Members of the Grand Ducal Family may have used the last name "de Clervaux" as an alias while studying abroad, however, the family does not have any connections to the castle in the Luxembourgish town by the same name. Instead, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie has. Well, (if I did my maths correctly) the brother of her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and his descendants have. (That's nine times great, in case you were just about to start counting.)

Claude de Lannoy, aforementioned distant relative of the Hereditary Grand Duchess, came into the possession of the Château de Clervaux in 1631 after the death of his brother-in-law Godefroid d'Eltz. In 1617, he had secondly married Claudine d'Eltz who inherited the County of Clervaux including the castle by the same name upon her brother's death. Claude de Lannoy (1578–1643), Comte de la Motterie, himself was a Flemish nobleman who was Governor of Maastricht and Namur and a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Clerveaux ca. 1834
The origins of the Château de Clervaux date back to the 12th century: The west wing including the manor house was built by Count Gerhard (or Gérard) of Sponheim, brother of the Count of Vianden. By the beginning of the 15th century, the House of Brandenbourg had taken possession of the castle. The family made major changes to its appearance including the Burgundy Tower to the south. Apart from its protective function, the tower was also used as the castle's jail. Later they also added more living accommodation, cellars as well as the so-called "witch tower".

In 1492, Margaretha de Brandenbourg-Clervaux, heiress to the County, married Nicolas de Heu, who was considered one of the wealthiest citizens of Metz. After his death in 1535, the mother of five children superintended all her lands and properties herself until her death in 1563. When her son and heir Martin died four years later, her daughter Elisabeth became the sole heiress of all the possessions of the Counts of Clervaux. She married Godefroid d'Eltz and they became the parents of the above mentioned Godefroid and Claudine.

Three years after inheriting the castle in 1631, Claude de Lannoy, founder of the Lannoy-Clervaux branch of the House of Lannoy, had the north wing rebuilt. Instead of rather shabby dwellings and stables, luxurious spacious reception rooms, including the Hall of Knights in Flemish-Spanish style, now formed the northern part of the Château. Count Claude died on a battlefield near Dunkirk in 1658 and his son Albert-Eugène inherited Clervaux.

Photo: Jean-Pol Grandmont
The new Count added administrative buildings, stables and barns thus demolishing a local church. In 1671 a watchman's lodging was erected at the castle entrance. Also taking part in several military expeditions, his debts became so enormous that the Parliament of Metz ordered him to auction off possessions of Clervaux worth 60,000 pounds. Albert-Eugène's son and eventual successor Adrien-Gérard appealed against the decision and it was ruled in his favour: The castle remained in the hands of the Lannoy-Clervaux family. In 1699, the King of Spain, Charles II, granted Count Adrien-Gérard the right to organise weekly markets at Clervaux.

Adrien-Gérard died childless in 1730. In his testament, he had named his nephew Damien-Adrien-Gérard his sole heir. In 1762, the new owner's son and heir Jean-Baptiste had the "Loreto Chapel" built in the castle's park. When the French revolutionary army invaded the country, he borrowed 60,000 pounds from some of the citizens of Clervaux and fled the country. The castle was neither confiscated nor put up for auction as the people of Clervaux declared that it was owned by a "Citizen Lannoy".

After the end of the French revolution, Jean-Baptiste's elder son Félix Balthasar returned to Clervaux and took possession of the castle once again. With the deaths of Félix's childess sons Léopold and Adrien in 1841 and 1854 respectively, the Clervaux branch of the House of Lannoy died out in direct male line. As per Adrien's testament, his wife, née Baroness Amélie de Tornaco, was to inherit the castle. The will, however, was contested by Count Napoléon de Lannoy-Clervaux, Prince of Rheina-Wolbeck, another grandson of Count Jean-Baptiste by his third son, Florent.

Clervaux in 1938
After 20 years of legal battle, it was decided that Clervaux would indeed go to Adrien's widow. By virtue of judicial ruling, the Lannoy family was barred from inheriting the estate and thus it went to Count Adrien de Berlaymont, nephew of Adrien's widow. In 1887, he had the administrative buildings of the first courtyard demolished and used the stones to build a luxurious villa in the park. He sold the castle's archives to the city of Metz, where they remain to this day. After his death, Clervaux was inherited by his nephew Guy de Berlaymont. During the following years, it was heavily neglected and encumered with debts.

In 1927, the castle and the surrounding area were sold at an auction and became private property until three years later. Towards the end of the Second World War during the Battle of the Bulge, German troops damaged the castle so heavily that nothing but a burnt out ruin remained. The ruin became government property and was later restored. These days the Château de Clervaux houses offices of the local government, the local tourist office, a collection of models of Luxembourg's fortified castles, the Museum of the Battle of the Bulge exhibiting weapons and souvenirs from the 1944-1945 Ardennes offensive, and a collection of documentary art photography, the "Family of Man" by Edward Steichen, which has been visited by Grand Duke Jean and Princess Margaretha as well as the Hereditary Grand Ducal Couple.

No comments:

Post a Comment