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The first foundation of a castle here is traditionally attributed to Gérard de Roussillon, Count-Duke of High Burgundy, during the IXth century. The castle has been transmitted to his heirs and in 1269 became the property of Jean de Chalon-Arlay, first of his name, the one who established the vineyard in Arlay. Jean’s watchword was « Chalon-Arlay maintiendrai » meaning that the Chalon-Arlay will maintain, uphold what they possess, stand firm on what they represent. And so was it... Until the year of 1530,when Philibert de Chalon-Arlay, Prince of Orange, Viceroy of Naples, the last of this proud and powerful family died at war in Italy against the French, unfortunately without any heir. He passed his properties, titles and watchword to his nephew, son of his sister Clauda, René de Nassau. Alas! René soon died also at Saint-Dizier in 1544, in the arms of Emperor Charles Quint. His last words gave the legacy to Guillaume (William) of Nassau, the Silent, his cousin who later will be the liberator of the United Provinces (Netherlands and Belgium) from the Spanish tutelage. And so Arlay could have stayed in the Princes of Nassau’s hands but...
We are in 1683. Hoping to settle a trial that his ancestors started in 1530 (150 years ago!) against the legitimacy of Nassau’s legacy, Jean Alphonse de Gand, prince of Isenghien, forced the selling of all Nassau properties in Franche-Comté, including Arlay. Strangely, the unique buyer of this selling was Jean Alphonse de Gand himself.
However, by the meantime, Louis XIV King of France conquered the Franche-Comté and seized all those lands. The French king decided to give these properties back in 1697 to William of Nassau III, King of England, who, in
1702, died without heir. And so once again there’s another trial for the legacy, a short one... only 28 years... Finally, the judgement came: the Isenghien kept the lands and the Nassau all the titles. After a two centuries long trial, case is closed. Today you may notice that the actual King of Netherlands, Willem Alexander of Nassau still bears the title of Prince of Orange and Baron of Arlay and keeps in his Coat of Arms the famous watchword of the Chalon-Arlay : « Je maintiendrai ».
Seal of Jean de Chalon,
says the Antique
Coat of arms of Philibert de Chalon,
Baron d'Arlay, Prince of Orange,
Knight of the Golden Fleece
Coat of Arms of William III of Nassau, Prince of Orange, King of England
Coat of arms of the Princes of Isenghien
Coat of arms of Princes d'Arenberg
We jump now to the year 1773, when Elisabeth-Pauline de Gand, countess of Lauragais, Princess of Isenghien, the heiress of Arlay’s medieval fortress, transformed it after 10 years of works in the vast domain you can see. Sadly, she did not enjoy it for a very long time: she was guillotined during the French Revolution. In 1825, her grandchild, Prince Pierre d’Arenberg took back the property, strengthened the vineyard and hire the best craftsmen to decorate his castle, found empty (plundered if you prefer) after the Revolution. After him came Auguste who passed the property to Ernest d’Arenberg, who in 1915, passed it to his brother-in-law the marquis of Vogüé and all his descends until now with the Laguiche Family. All of them sticking to « maintain » the land and History of Arlay. It’s a rare fact in Europe but Arlay’s Castle has always been transmitted by legitimated legacy ! From its foundation in the High Middle Age period, until today and the actual owners...Embodying one more time the Chalon-Arlay watchwords: « Je maintiendrai ! » (I will maintain)
Count of Lauraguais
Countess of Lauraguais