Halshany or Holszany Castle is the ruined residence of the Sapieha magnate family and was the seat of the one of the largest land estates in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Paweł Stefan Sapieha commissioned its construction and it was erected circa 1610 to replace the older castle, built by of the Holszanski princely family, of whom Sapiehas were descendants and heirs.
Also known as the Black Castle (although it is built of red brick), the residence formerly rivaled Mir Castle as the most elegant private château of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The name Black Castle in fact originally applies to a fictional building from a book by Uladzimir Karatkievich, which was loosely based on Halshany Castle.
The castle and the surrounding estates were devastated, robbed and looted, twice: by the invading Swedes troops during the Deluge and during the Great Northern War in 1704. Due to financial stress experienced by the Sapiehas in the wake of the Domestic War and ongoing Great Northern War, the castle had never been fully restored.
Later during the 18th century the castle with its estate diminished by creditors passed to the Żaba family, to be sold to the Korsak family with the estate further diminished by the creditors. The last Polish landlords. the Korsaks, sold, in the last quarter of the 19th century, the castle to a Russian landlord, Gorbanyov, who had the castles' towers pulled down in 1880, but in 1880s, according to the Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland, there were still 2 floors occupied with some of the wall paintings visible.
Currently, the castle continues to crumble away. An annual tournament is held near its walls each summer.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.