HISTORY OF THE FAMILY
The lineage of the family of La Rochefoucauld can be traced back to 1019 with Foucauld, the Lord of the Roche. The family of La Rochefoucauld is considered as a branch of the Lusignan, because their arms are similar. In fact, it seems that Foucault was a close parent of the Vicount of Limoges, a descendant of a Lord, member of the court of Charlemagne. Only four other families of France (among which the Capetians) can claim such an old lineage.
The history of the castle is deeply connected to the history of the family of La Rochefoucauld, which itself, fits into, century after century, the political life of its time. The castle of La Rochefoucauld gives a remarkable illustration of the interlacing of politics and architecture all through the life of a family who has always owned the castle since Fucaldus has erected the first fortification around 980. With the history of the family of La Rochefoucauld, the use of architecture aiming at political and social means finds one of its most spectacular expression. The donjon, a unique remain of the XIth century, expresses an obvious and boastful dimension. Apparently, it was already a prestigious building whose function was to demonstrate the power of Foucuald when confronted to the count of Angouleme.
In the XIVth century, Jean de La Rochefoucauld, who was a seneschal in the region of Perigord and was promoted in 1462 to the most important vassal of the country under the tutelage of Charles de Valois-Angouleme. Until 1473, he imposed himself as the most powerful Lord of the region. Jean gave a physical and architectural feature to his political situation by raising the towers and thus endowing the building with an incredible height. The donjon was also raised in order to overlook the whole domaine and give a true substance to the power of the builder.
One of the most striking moments of the history of the family dates back to the XVIth century. King François the First, the godson of François de La Rochefoucauld, changed the barony into a county. François the Second of La Rochefoucauld started building in 1519 with his wife Anne de Polignac, the most bewildering part of the castle : the towers and the south wing. The magnificence of this architecture and its adornment inscribes the castle among the greatest achievements of the French Renaissance and testifies again of the exceptional rank of François the Second within the royal court.
Last building, that was the western wing, is situates around the XVIIIth century and was erected just after a fire. It illustrates for the last time in the Family’s history, the power of the family.
Centuries after centuries, the family will produce remarkable personalities : the cardinal François de La Richefoucauld, great chaplain of France at the head of the king’s council under the reign of Louis the XIIIth. François VI who fought Richelieu and who was the leader of the Fronde of the princes before becoming one of the greatest writers of his days, author in 1664 of the famous maxims. LaRochefoucauld d’Anville, a member of the Academy of science, a great admirer of the American constitution and also a close friend of Franklin. He was at the head of the liberal trend of the lords for theStates General in 1789. He was murdered in Gisors in September 1792, a few days after his cousins of La Rochefoucauld-Bayers, bishops, deputees of the clergy in the States General. They were put to death in the prison of the Carmes and beatified. Last but not the least, a free spirit and a true philantrophy characterizes the work of François Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld Liancourt (1747 – 1827), who was also a deputy of the lords in the States General and who emigrated to the United States at the worst period. He is at the origin of the school of arts and crafts and he is also the co-founder of the bank “Caisse d’Epargne”.
Today in France, there are about 200 persons who bear this name.