Studying the architecture of the Château d’Écouen is like reading the history of architectural transformations in France in the 16th century directly on the stone. First you have to imagine the ancestral castle of the Bouchards of Montmorency rising up on this site, an old family that had the honour of serving the kings of France since the year 1,000.
We know nothing of this first structure except that in 1531 Anne of Montmorency, heir to the immense inheritance of his father Guillaume, a powerful figure of the kingdom and already Marshall of France, decided to raze it and in its place build a dwelling worthy of his name. The positioning was conserved: the structure was built facing the east, toward a possible invasion, it shuts off one of the access points to Paris, it is surrounded by forests full of game and, set atop a hill, it overlooks the plains of France, a position that is at the same time pleasing and imposing. The construction work lasted 18 years, from 1538-1555, which is relatively short for the time period. No doubt Anne of Montmorency’s rather impatient character, coupled with his colossal fortune, helped accelerate the work rhythm!