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Famous personalities

Number of famous personalities fell in love with Pierrefonds and its surroundings. Let’s see an insight…

Empress Eugénie (1826 – 1920)

If there is a person who lends her reputation to Pierrefonds, it can only be Empress Eugénie. Indeed, the wife of Napoléon III used all the influence of her husband to make Pierrefonds popular. Her mark can be found all over Compiégnois, for example Eugénie Pavilion and Eugénie Road. She adored Pierrefonds to the point to name herself sometimes as Countess of Pierrefonds and even signed letters as such.

Louis I of Orléans (1372 – 1407)

The construction of the Pierrefonds castle and the embellishment of Sainte-Croix Priory is mainly attributed to Louis I of Orléans, Duke of Orlénas and Valois, the second son of King of France Charles V. He owned around a hundred castles throughout the kingdom, mostly situated in the regions of Valois and Coucy. It is also Louis I of Orléans who bestowed the Duchy of Valois with a large number of fortresses in order to rival the great princes and show prestige and military power. Tighly linked to his only brother, King Charles VI “The Mad”, he became involved in a political battle against his uncle, Phillipe Le Hardi, Duke of Burgundy, who died following an illness. The battle continued with Jean Sans Peur, son of Philippe Le Hardi and cousin of Louis I of Orléans, to ultimately ended with the assassination of Duke of Valois in Paris by the Burgundians in 1407. This sparked the civil war between Armagnacs and Burgundians that would continue to tear the Kingdom apart, in times already troubled by the Hundred Year’s War. 

Marie-Madeleine Dreux d’Aubray (1630 – 1676)

Marie Madeleine Dreux d’Aubray, main protagonist of the “Affair of Poisons”, was the wife of Marqui of Brinvilliers and the lover of Jean Baptiste of Saint-Croix, Cavalry Captain of Tracy Regiment. Among others, she poisoned her father, owner of Offémont Castle, as well as her brothers. After fleeing abroad and the incredible manhunt that ensued, she was finally captured, sentenced and executed on 17 July 1676. The letters of Madame de Sévigné give very precise details about this day and the behaviour of people. The Amsterdam Gazette on 28 July 1676 relates the execution in these terms : “At seven o’clock in the evening, she emerged from the Conciergerie, without any robes and wearing only a light shirt, and was led in front of Notre Dame to make amends, and from there to Place de Grève, escorted by Mister Pirrot, Doctor of Theology, who helped her to walk towards the gallows”.

Porthos the Musketeer

You’re not dreaming ! One of the most famous Musketeers in French history lived in Pierrefonds. To be more accurate, it was the fictional Porthos, made popular by the writer Alaxandre Dumas. In the 19th century, he described in chapter 12 of his novel Twenty Years After d’Artagnan’s vision of Pierrefonds as he goes to meet his friend : “a magnificent valley (…) a charming little lake (…) a beautiful castle”. He is talking about the castle of Jonval, property of Louis I of Orléans, that one was still in ruins when the novel was written.

Séverine (1855 – 1929)

Caroline Rémy, woman of Letters, Secretary of Jules Valles, she became his ardent disciple. She raised awareness among him about big questions of misery and social injustice. Together they founded Le Cri du Peuple, and she wrote her first articles under a pseudonym, Séverin. As a feminist, she published a lot of libertarian chronicles in La Fronde (the Sling), a newspaper, the first of its kind in France to be run and written entirely by women to defend their rights. She was also involved in the women’s suffrage movement. Interested in politics, she was very inspired by the Russian Revolution. In 1921 she bought a house in Pierrefonds, still visible today. It is located opposite the train station, on the street that bears her name. Died on 29 April 1929 and was buried in Pierrefonds cemetery. Her legacy comprises over 6000 texts on social and feminist struggles.

Adolphe Clément-Bayard (1855 – 1928)

Born Gustave Adolphe Clément in Pierrefonds, where he was Mayor from 1914 to 1919 (the Council of State decided to add Bayard to his last name in 1912), he became one of the most influential figures in French industrial history. In spite of a modest background, he was hardworking and innovative and knew how to take advantage of the rise of Bicycle Industry. In 1890, his firm was the biggest manufacturer in France and had exlusive rights in the country to sell Dunlop tyres.

Pioneer in the mechanical domain, designer of vehicles and motor bikes (one of his model won the Bol d’Or Price twice) in association with the Gladiator mark, after having made a fortune in this sector he launched himself into the construction of airships until the beginning of the First World War. In 1914, three of the six airships of French Army were designed by Clément-Bayard. The largest factory in Levallois-Perret was sold to Citroën in 1922, which gave the opportunity to grow and become a multinational company. Adolphe Clément-Bayard lies in a mausoleum in his estate in Pierrefonds.