Travel through history
The Château de Sully, half an hour west of Beaune, nestles in the rolling hills of the Burgundy countryside, on the northside of the famous Côte de Beaune and its world reknowned vineyards.
A moat surrounds four completely different facades facing north, south, east and west and in the interior is the most beautiful Renaissance courtyard in France (according to Bussy Rabutin that is, a French soldier and courtier exiled from Louis XIV's court for writing rude things about the King's mistresses).
Since the Romans
The Château is situated in the Drée river valley on what is reputedly the site of the local Gauls last stand against the Roman army, around 54 BC. Tacitus says Sacrovir rode to battle and gave battle in a large plain 12 km east of Augustudunum. (Check out the original text - you may get a better translation if your latin is better than ours!) Julius Caesar wrote at least some of his famous War of the Gauls in neighbouring Autun - he might have ridden past just where you will park your car). After his defeat by the roman general Sillius, Sacrovir the Eduen chief leader of the anti-roman rebellion retreated to Autun and threw himself on his sword.
The Roman site grew into a moated medieval fortress with eight towers around a central courtyard.
From the Sully family the château was passed into the Montaigu family, powerful courtiers under the Dukes of Burgundy. The last Montaigu, Claude, also the owner of the Château de Couches, was Chevalier de la Toison d'Or but died at the battle of Buxy in the late 15th century. His legitimised daughter Jeanne married a neighbour from another influential Burgundian family, Hugues de Rabutin from the Château d'Epiry, and was given the Château de Sully as a wedding present. Portraits of Hugues de Rabutin and Jeanne de Montaigu can be seen in what is now the Beaux Arts museum in Dijon (it used to be the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy). (Paintings hanging in the room with the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy).
The last Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold was killed in battle and his only daughter Marie, last Duchess of Burgundy was only 20 years old. She married Maximilian Habsburg but the French king, Louis XI, annexed most of Burgundy. Some villages like Chassagne-Montrachet, site of the château winery, were vigorously opposed to being taken over by the French. The King sent his troops to explain the new situation more clearly to these recalcitrant Burgundians and when the smoke cleared revealing the ruined village, the only thing left standing of the Abbaye de Morgeot was the chapel and the bread oven. With the end of the reign of the Dukes of Burgundy, the fortunes of the Montaigu and Rabutin families soon collapsed and the château was put up for sale for the first time ever.
The Château as seen today was begun in the second half of the 16th century, following the Château’s acquisition by the Saulx-Tavannes family in 1515. Gaspard de Saulx married Marguerite de Tavannes and their descendants took the name Saulx-Tavannes. Gaspard de Saulx was an important figure at the court of the French King Henri II, distinguishing himself at the battle of Jarnac: 'You're a lion that needs to be chained' the King said, decorating him with the Order of St Michel and placing the chain around his neck. (A lion's head was the Saulx family emblem and you will see a lot of them decorating the chateau). A keen supporter of the Queen, Catherine de Médici, Gaspard de Saulx reputedly offered to chop off Diane de Poitiers nose for her (Diane was her husband's mistress). He was at Queen Catherine's side during the St Bartholomew massacre in Paris on 24th August 1572 and also recruted Swiss mercenaries for her. He was created Maréchal de France.
The Saulx Tavannes family fortunes lasted two centuries. The vast sums required to keep up with court life during King Louis XIV's reign may have been the final straw and the château de Sully was put up for sale for the second time in it's history in 1715.
Arrival of the
Mac Mahon family
However it's an ill wind that blows no good and there were new families making the best of Louis XIV's new regime. The Morey brothers, known as the Rich Men of Burgundy, one of whom was responsable for tax collecting on the king's behalf in Dijon, made their fortune and bought the Château de Sully.
The marriage of Charlotte de Morey to Jean-Baptiste de Mac Mahon in 1750 heralded a new era. The Mac Mahons devoted themselves to making Sully a working country estate, with its own kitchen garden, dovecote, fishpond, icehouse, washhouse, farm, vineyards and extensive parkland.
One of the most famous of the Mac Mahon ancestors, Maréchal Maurice de Mac Mahon, was born at the Château in 1808. After a childhood at Sully steeped in family traditions he became the hero of Emperor Napoleon III’s Crimean and Italian campaigns. In 1873 he was elected President of the French Republic and was the first President to live at the Elysee Palace. He is the only French President to have been born and raised in Burgundy.
The winery part of the estate was extensively developped by Philippe, 9th Marquis de Mac Mahon and 4th Duc de Magenta, by the acquisition of the Abbaye de Morgeot in nearby Chassagne-Montrachet. His lifework acquiring ad promoting his premier cru vineyards in Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet are what enable the family to maintain the château today. Visits to the château contribute greatly to the effort so thank you for your support!
Since the 4th Duke's sudden death in 2002 the stately home and estate and winery have been run by his widow. The Duchess lives in the Château all year round with their two children, Pélagie and Maurice. Maurice is the 10th Marquis of Mac Mahon and 5th Duke of Magenta.
Depuis 1934, la Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin s’est donnée pour but la mise en valeur des produits de la Bourgogne, particulièrement de ses grands vins et de sa cuisine régionale, le maintien et le rétablissement des fêtes, coutumes et traditions du folklore bourguignon, le développement du tourisme en Bourgogne. Elle compte 12 000 chevaliers dans le monde, et défend la Bourgogne et le bourgogne dans une convivialité Grand Cru.
Vice-Présidente de la Route des Châteaux en Bourgogne du Sud