The name of Bourbon comes from a town in France (called Bourbon-L'Archambault from the name of an early lord) and the region around it, the Bourbonnais.
The castle of Bourbon-L'Archambault is also the family estate and the cradle of the Bourbon family.
Unfortunately only small parts of that castle still exist. The castle was destroyed during the french revolution, then sold as a quarry.
on that map you can see the plan of the castle (black lines) as it once was. Only grey parts exist today.
Bourbon l'Archambault is a town with a prestigious name. From Henry IV, the Bourbon family would hold the throne of France, and, still today, its name is associated with several European reigning branches.
The spa town of the Bocage bourbonnais can be proud to be the birthplace of the Bourbons' dynasty. Indeed, the Bourbons moved up through the power before to reign, from the 10th century when an obscure Aymar appeared in the castle of Bourbon, which was then at the boundaries between the kingdom of France and the one of Aquitaine. As soon as 761, Pépin le Bref's troops had raged in Bourbon by taking over the fortifications and burning them. The fortified castle which was then erected would shelter the first Bourbon's lords, who had to build up their estates through the strength of their swords, but also with clever alliances and loyalty to the king of France. From as early as 959, the line of descent of the Archambauds of Bourbon would perpetuate until 1249, time for them to establish the feudal authority over a territory vaster and vaster, which would represent the main part of the present department of Allier at the end of the 13th century. The marriage between Béatrix de Bourbon and Robert de Clermont – Saint Louis's sixth son – would signal an important stage: the lily flower became part of the Bourbons' arms. Their son Louis was the first Duke of Bourbon, because the territory became duchy peerage in 1327.
Then the fortified castle of Bourbon became an "impregnable" stronghold of fifteen big towers, which would be reinforced by Louis II during the Hundred Years War more particularly by the famous "Qui qu'en grogne" tower which dominated the town. A century later, the duke Jean II – succeeded at his death by Pierre and Anne de Beaujeu – built up the magnificent Holy Chapel, "sister and rival of the one of Paris", in order to optimise the Relics brought by Robert de Clermont in Bourbon in 1282. For a long time, barons and dukes of Bourbon lived in the castle of Moulins, were buried in the abbey church of Souvigny, but still made sure that the castle of Bourbon became nicer and nicer, even if it remained a military stronghold. In 1527, the annexation of the Bourbonnais to the crown of France sounded the death knell for the building, which sheltered the canons charged by the pope to take care of the Holy Relics.
The Revolution was the final stroke to the castle which became a "thriving quarry", until Achille Allier – a young poet and writer, the author of the thick "Ancien Bourbonnais" (Old Bourbonnais) – appealed to the royal authority in 1832 to preserve the three Northern towers of the castle, the "Qui qu'en grogne" tower being used as the municipal prison.
Source of the text above: official site of Bourbon l'Archambault
See that very good article (French) at Wikipedia on the early lords of the castle:
- Early Bourbons on Wikipedia
all photos on that page were taken by me in April 2007. I don't allow the use of these photos on any other page/site in internet!