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Château Moncontour: The Régnier Family

Château Moncontour: The Régnier Family

At the time of Balzac’s visit in the mid-19th century it seems that the proprietor was Nicolas François Sylvestre Régnier (1783 – 1851), Duc de Massa. He inherited this title from his father Claude Ambroise Régnier (1746 – 1814), a noted politician, grand juge and ministre de la justice who had been made a duke by Napoleon in 1809. Nicolas François died at Moncontour, leaving it to his wife, Anne-Charlotte dite Nancy MacDonald, and children, of which there were apparently many. Nancy also lived at Moncontour until her death, in 1870, as did at least one of their sons, Alexandre Philippe Alfred Régnier (1831 – 1910), Marquis de Massa, who was by all accounts a bit of a dandy and fancied himself as a photographer, although I have noted that he was a cavalry officer and a member of the Légion d’Honneur.

Although several documents refer to the Massa nobles as the owners of Château Moncontour, others indicate that the property soon came into the hands of the Koenigswarter family.

The Koenigswarter Family

The Koenigswarter family tree can be traced back to Bavaria and Julius Koenigswarter (1784 – 1845), who married Antoinette Henlé (died 1822). Together they had a son Louis Jean Koenigswarter (1814 – 1878), who despite being of Bavarian birth ultimately became a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. He married Clara Koenigswarter (from Wien, Austria, born 1816) in Austria, and they had a son Jules Louis Maximilien (1844 – 1919).

Château Moncontour

Jules married an Italian named Angelica Lea Franchetti (1849 – 1936), and they had three children, ‘Louis’ Léon (1870 – 1931), Hélène Joséphine (1873 – 1922) and Alice Sophie (1878 – 1963). ‘Louis’ Léon Koenigswarter, who was also made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, married Jeanne Thécla Kauffmann (1883 – 1942) on 23rd May 1903 in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. Detail from the Annuaire des Châteaux et des Villégiatures 1906 – 1907 (La Fare, 1907), however, indicated that by 1906 the family were living at Château Moncontour; the inhabitants including not only ‘Louis’ Léon Koenigswarter and his wife, but also one Jean Koenigswarter, presumably a relative although I remain uncertain as to this individual’s exact identity.

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