The Château of Pierrefonds, situated north of Paris on the Oise, dates back to the 12th century. It was rebuilt and enlarged from 1393-1407 by Louis d'Orléans, Duke of Valois and brother to King Charles VI. During the troubled early reign of Louis XIII (1601-1643) it was one of the strongholds of the aristocratic opposition to the Court. Besieged and taken by Cardinal Richelieu in 1617, he nullified its threat by partially demolishing it, razing the roof and destroying much of the curtain wall and the towers. The castle remained in this ruined state for more than two centuries until it was restored by Viollet-le-Duc on the order of Napoleon III, work that began in 1857 and was only completed in 1885. The present picture shows the castle in its ruined state, before its wholesale re-invention by Viollet-le-Duc. Its romantic ruins proved very popular with artists of the early 19th century, such as Corot, who depicted it on several occasions between 1834-66.