The Castle of Luneville (France) also called the castle of lights was built and rebuilt over a period of 17 years (1703-1720) during “the Age of Enlightenment”, on an old medieval fortification dating back to the year 1000.
The history of the place and its characters:
Located about 40km from Nancy, in Meurthe-et-Moselle in the Lorraine region, it is the domain of the greatest Lorraine dukes and some great names in the history of France (from the Middle Ages to the 18th century), as for example Charles the Bold, who occupied the castle in 1476, under the reign of the Burgundians in the fifteenth century. But it is under the reign of Stanislas Leszczynski or Stanislaus, aristocrat and king of Poland, that the castle is known, especially since the latter, is the father-in-law of King Louis XV of France, and he will have contributed to make castle a meeting ground for all the greatest philosophers of the Enlightenment. On the death of Stanislas, this castle is then transformed into a military barracks, particularly to train elite soldiers of the French army, and throughout the nineteenth century.
First strange phenomena:
Yet, this magnificent castle, knows a mysterious curse, which will make a total of 7 major fires and this during several centuries, causing many damages to the castle and requiring renovations until 2023. According to a legend, King Stanislas would have concluded a pact with a strange individual, promising power and wealth, but he was certainly far from thinking, that a curse would be put in place, and that pyromaniac spirits would be at work of these strange phenomena known to the castle.
- The first fire occurred on January 3, 1719, in the right wing of the castle, is caused 7 dead.
- The second is in 1739, in the wing of the forecourt on the 1st floor of the castle.
- The third took place in 1759, exactly the same place as the second.
- The fourth is raging in 1789, is said to have caused more damage than its predecessors. Indeed, he started kitchens located in the basement of the castle, to the grand staircase, but the fire was stopped, because the place is built of stone, not wood.
- The fifth took place on January 1, 1814, destroying the small north wing of the castle courtyard.
- The sixth was declared on November 23, 1849, in the right wing of the castle (as in 1719), at 6 o’clock in the morning. It took 24 hours for the firefighters to manage the fire, because at that time, the only way to extinguish a fire, was to form a human chain with wooden buckets filled with water taken in the channel. The falls of beams and chimneys caused two important amputations to 2 soldiers: the 1st lost one foot, and the second two fingers.
- The last fire broke out on March 19, 1961, 300 to 500m2 of roof of roof structure went up in smoke and the roof of the left wing of the castle was completely destroyed.
Unfortunately, the curse does not stop there, and an 8th fire broke out on the night of January 2nd and 3rd, 2003. Many damages were noted and ravaged many buildings of the castle: two princely apartments belonging to the Ministry of Defense , a third of the buildings of the General Council of Meurthe et Moselle, the roof of the southeast wing of the royal chapel, and important elements of masonry. Emergency measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of visitors, estimated at 3 million euros. An investigation was also opened to find out if the fire is of criminal origin. Of course, it is far from imagining that this fire is related to the other 7 known castle, and the curse.
Featured image: Château de Lunéville after the January 2003 fire © Dominique Grandemange / AFP