Margaret of Austria was regent of the Habsburg Netherlands between 1507 and 1530. Her residential palace was the Hof van Savoye (Court of Savoy) in Mechelen, the first renaissance building in the Low Countries. Note the magnificent renaissance frontage and the charming garden. From 1616 to 1796 the palace was home to the Great Council, the highest court of law in the Southern Netherlands. The façade still features Margaret's coat of arms, alongside the coat of arms of Charles V and a figure of Lady Justice (Justitia).
Today the building is the court of law. Margaret of Austria Margaret's life was turbulent from the outset. She was given in marriage no fewer than three times. The French crown prince sent her back at the age of eleven because he found a better match. Then the Spanish heir to the throne Don Juan died a few months after they were married. And Philibert of Savoy, the love of her life, died after three years of wedded bliss. The twenty-fouryear-old Margaret dressed as a widow ever after and refused to remarry. Margaret was appointed regent of the Netherlands and settled in Mechelen in 1507. She took responsibility for raising (emperor) Charles and his sisters. According to her contemporaries, she ran the country with tack and foresight. One of her greatest successes was the 'Ladies' Peace of Cambrai', which she engineered in 1529 through tough negotiation with Louise of Savoy, mother of the French king and sister of the late Philibert. In the meantime the arts and sciences flourished at Margaret's court. Notable artists and philosophers stayed at the palace. Polyphonic music was the regent's great passion. Her original gradual is preserved in Mechelen city archive and features on the list of 'Flemish highlights'. You can visit the garden from Monday to Friday from 7.30pm until 18pm. During the weekends and on holidays from 9am until 20pm.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.