In the 12th century, a castle called the Château Saint-Vincent was raised on the spot of the present manor. Built in the faubourg of Agnou, within the fiefdom of the Boutigny family, it stood outside the long walls that enclosed Maule. The Boutignys owned the castle from the 13th century on: first Hugues de Boutigny, Lord of Gavral, then his son Jean de Boutigny. However, it was later dismantled by order of King Louis VI. In 1357, the city was pillaged by Charles II of Navarre, who totally leveled the edifice. From then on, the barons of Maule lived in town, in houses constructed for them. This situation would change in the 16th century.
The barony of Maule was held by the Morainvillier family until 1597, soon after which it would pass to the Harlays of Sancy, who had been acquiring local fiefdoms since 1578. The transfer occurred in 1602, when the title was obtained by Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy and Superintendent of Finances to King Henry IV.
Constructed in 1594, the Château d’Agnou was also called the Château du Hagnou or de Balagny. It owed its conception to Nicolas de Harlay, who wished to build a residence appropriate to his rank. It is likely that even Henry IV spent time there between hunting expeditions.
The marshes of the Bout d’Agnou area were drained in order to begin construction. Although the only actual result of the project was a single wing of the manor, measuring about 60 meters (200 feet), and a dovecote tower for keeping pigeons, the baron had much more ambitious plans. He wanted to build an immense quadrilateral structure flanked by four round towers.
Through his marriage to Marie Moreau on February 15, 1575, Nicolas de Harlay acquired the land of Grosbois in 1596 and began the construction of another manor there in 1597, which could explain why he never completed the first one.
The baron’s heirs were unable to retain ownership of the Château d’Agnou, which was sold in 1638 to Claude de Bullion, Superintendent of Finances and Keeper of the Seals of France.
At the time of the French Revolution, the Château d’Agnou belonged to the Marquis de Boisse, who took the road to exile, leaving his manor to the vandalism of the revolutionaries. The ruins were sold in 1793 to Nicolas-François Fréret and finally recovered by the marquis in 1812.
In the 19th century, it belonged to the Maule Plainval family, and then to the Balagnys in 1876.
Used as a convalescent home during the First World War and occupied by the German Wehrmacht during the Second, it was left vacant through the 1960s. During the 1970s, it found new ownership and was gradually restored to its image of the 16th century. Today the property is under private co-ownership.
A 16th-century construction, the manor’s dovecote is a high cylindrical stone tower that has over 3,200 pigeon holes, which can hold over 6,000 pigeons. It is thus one of the largest in the region of Paris and one of the oldest in France. The nobility’s privilege of raising pigeons was abolished in 1790 and the dovecote was vacated.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.