Hotel Le Bois des Chambres & Restaurant Le Grand Chaume

The Prince Henri-Amédée de Broglie

published at 19/10/2022

The son of Duke Jacques-Victor Albert de Broglie (1821-1901: President of the Council under Mac-Mahon in 1873 and again in 1877, and historian elected to the Académie française in 1862), Prince Henri-Amédée de Broglie started out with the rank of major in a military career that lasted at least from 1875 to 1890. His wife complained continually about the absences his military career imposed on him, and it is more than likely that he ended up resigning at her insistence. After leaving the army, Prince de Broglie showed a keen interest in the sciences and enjoyed attending to the many practical questions incumbent upon any great landowner, in his case managing a Domain such as Chaumont.

He drew up a programme comprising several stages:

From 1875 to 1900: the architect Paul-Ernest Sanson restored and modernised the Château. Pretty much all stones in the Château walls showing signs of deterioration were removed, one after another, and replaced with new ones. In 1877, the same architect designed sumptuous stables, considered at the time to be the most modern and luxurious anywhere in Europe.

The second stage in these developments saw the Prince acquiring numerous plots of land. He began doing so in 1875, his job made easier by increasingly lower leases and the poor state the region's agriculture was in. As a result, the Domain's original 1,025 hectares had expanded to some 2,500 hectares by 1917, the year of Prince de Broglie's death.

The third stage, started in 1884, was the creation of landscaped grounds, designed by landscape architect Henri Duchêne and containing such features as a water tower, dog cemetery and a rustic bridge.

Lastly, between 1903 and 1913, Prince de Broglie asked the architect Marcel Boille to build a model farm (lodgings for the cattlemen and carters, a motor vehicle shed, donkey house, hangar for farming machinery and a pigsty for example) that was both modern and efficiently and logically designed. These works continued for ten years without ever being completed.

Prince Henri-Amédée de Broglie died at the age of 68 from bronchopneumonia. In a letter to his wife dated 6 November 1917, Jacques de Broglie speaks of his feelings at his father's death: “The princess (Princess Henri-Amédée de Broglie) has lost all in losing my father, that kind and gentle model husband, he who devoted his whole life to her happiness and who truly only lived for her.” The following Tuesday, on 13 November 1917, his body was transferred to Chaumont and laid out in the Château's chapel, which had been turned into a chapel of rest, before being buried in the family vault in Chaumont cemetery.


Famous contemporary figures: Guests of the princely couple

The princely couple enjoyed organising splendid parties and banquets. It was quite the norm for fifteen or so guests to reside at the Château for several weeks at a time. The couple greeted European sovereigns such as Queen Isabella II of Spain and the King of Portugal; but also famous artists and performers, like actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Marguerite Deval. Other than these prestigious guests, the Princess de Broglie also kept a close circle of friends whom she referred to as her "intimate personnel". Among them were her two closest friends, Comtesse Blanche de Clermont-Tonnerre and Princess Alice de Monaco. The former accompanied the Princess de Broglie on her numerous travels, notably to Asia, where she went tiger hunting. Less dangerous activities bound her to the latter, with whom she enjoyed the beauty of her orchid hothouses.