Sorø Abbey was the preeminent and wealthiest monastic house in all of Denmark during the Middle Ages. It was founded by Asser Rig, the son of Skjalm Hvide, Zealand's most powerful noble in 1142. Asser established a Benedictine House just a few years prior to his death in 1151. He then lived as a monk for the last years of his life. It was common practice for wealthy and powerful individuals and families to found a religious house for several reasons: expiation of a sinful life, commemorative masses for family members, help for the poor, or out of religious zeal or devotion. Asser Rig's son, Absalon, became the powerful warrior bishop of Zealand and advisor to several Danish kings. In a move to reform Sorø, Bishop Absalon supplanted with Cistercian monks from Esrum Abbey in 1161. One of Absalon's friends Peder Strang endowed the abbey with enough land to make it financially solvent from that time on.
The Cistercians went to work on building the abbey church and monastery using a new building material, large,red bricks. The technology and style had been imported from northern Germany. From that time forward Sorø acquired property all over Denmark with an income larger than that of the royal family.
The abbey church became the burial place of the noble Hvide family. Absalon was buried behind the main altar. Three Danish kings are buried there: Christopher II, Valdemar IV Atterdag, and Oluf II. Margaret I was buried there and later moved to Roskilde Cathedral. The church remains an excellent example of early brick Gothic architecture.
Saxo Grammaticus wrote one of Denmark's most important historical sources Gesta Danorum at Sorø Abbey. Saxo the Tall (Danish:Lange), as he was called at Sorø, wrote a sixteen volume chronicle of Danish history for Bishop Absalon. Only later was he called 'Grammaticus' as a result of his excellently written Latin. Saxo's work was completed before 1208.
In 1247 much of the abbey burned down and remained in ruins for about ten years. A gift from Widow Ingeborg Strangessen allowed the rebuilding of the abbey with arched vaults.
Denmark became officially Lutheran in 1536 and the process of eliminating Catholic institutions and practice were carried out over the next decades. Sorø Abbey was turned into a home for monks who had no place else to go. It became crown property in 1580. In 1584 the monastery buildings came into the possession of Peter Reetz, a member of the State Council and Sor was set up for two sons of Frederik II, Christian, later Christian IV and Prince Ulrich. Two years later an academy had been established for the sons of wealthy noble families. Between 1596 and 1600 Christian IV built one of Denmark's first tennis courts at the academy. It was later transformed in the library at the Academy. Sorø Academycontinued on and off again until the present day.References:
The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.
Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.
Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.
The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.