Dordogne

The Curse of Castle l’Herm …

The old stone bridge leading to the ruins of Château de l'Herm

The old stone bridge leading to the ruins of Château de l’Herm

There are certainly fabulous castles strewn in the beautiful valleys of France with their own stories to tell, but those that are abandoned and fallen into ruins may hide some dark secrets. Among those haunting the walls of these forgotten castles is probably that of Château de l’Herm in Perigord Noir, Dordogne. A tragic destiny that could be an inspiration for a crime and thriller movie. The great Lords of l’Herm may be traced back to the 14th century, but our story begins when the Calvimont family took over the castle in the early 16th century. The Calvimont were politicians with close link with the court of France, especially when Jean de Calvimont III was sent as France’s ambassador to the court of Spain. His son Jean de Calvimont IV took over the estate and after his death, his only surviving daughter Marguerite heir to the estate, was killed. Her mother Anne d’Abzac was accessory to her daughter’s slaying, thus began the series of the legendary murders among the family. After the death of Marguerite, her husband François d’Aubusson remarried with Marie de Hautefort who in turn killed the two Calvimont brothers (Gabriel and Balthazar de Calvimont) François d’Aubusson was tried and died in prison. Françoise, Marie de Hautefort daughter married Godefroi de la Roche-Aymon who killed both La Roque and Jean Calvimont IV de la Nadalie in a duel. She later died in childbirth in 1641. Marie de Hautefort remarried Raphael de Baudet who was later killed by Charles de Hautefort. Charles d’Aubusson son of Marie de Hautefort, he too was killed by a villager during an ambush, so was the second husband of Jeanne Amande Marie de la Roche Aymon, her granddaughter. The killing spree continues with violent murders and horrible death among the rival families. Two surviving Calvimont brothers took Marie de Hautefort twice to court following the assassinations of their brothers. Court procedure between the families lasted quite awhile, finally settled, and the cunning murderess Marie de Hautefort managed to get some of its inheritance and died at the castle in 1652 at the age of 70 years. Family quarrels did not end there and by end of the 17th century, due to the successive murders and heirs fighting to claim the land, Château de l’Herm was put up for sale. It was finally bought by Marie de Hautefort in 1682 (niece of the malicious Marie de Hautefort by the same name) She was one of Louis XIII platonic lover, who nicknamed her “The Aurora” and became lady in waiting to Marie de Medicis and Anne of Austria. Château de l’Herm remained in the Hautefort family till after the French revolution when once again it was put up for sale …. Horrifying murderous spree has throughout the centuries haunted the ill-fated castle, the battleground for succession and wealth between the Calvimont, Hautefort and Abzac. Today the once splendid castle stand in ruins, as if the walls immersed in the tragedy of the past is a sorrow reminder to how greed and avarice can lead to destruction.

The Renaissance style entrance and ruins of the main hall with its fireplace

The Renaissance style entrance and ruins of the main hall with its fireplace

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