The present clock movement is remarkable, not only because it is an extraordinary and unique example of early French clockmaking, but also because it was a Royal commission and has an interesting history.
Queen Marie of France (1573-1642) was the daughter of Francesco de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Joanna of Austria. In October 1600 she married the recently divorced King Henry IV of France and a year later she gave birth to the Dauphin (Louis XIII). Their marriage was a turbulent one despite the fact that she gave birth to five more children in the ensuing eight years. Following the King's assassination in 1610 Marie became Regent for the young Dauphin. Her capricious character led to her squandering the State's revenues and when the Dauphin came of age to rule in 1614 she ignored him and continued to govern in his name. In 1617 her lover, the Marquis d'Ancre, was assassinated and Marie was exiled to Blois. Despite two failed attempts at raising a revolt she still managed to find favour with the Cardinal de Richelieu and was re-admitted to the King's court.
It seems sensible to suggest that the present clock was made for Queen Marie of France whilst she was in exile in Blois between March 1617 and February 1619. The case for a movement like this would have been a magnificent creation, quite probably made of precious metals and stones. The mystery of its demise is probably linked to its owner's sad end; Marie fell out with the all-powerful Cardinal de Richelieu and in February 1631 she was banished to Compiègne. She then fled to Brussels in the Spanish Netherlands where she died destitute eleven years later, the case probably a victim of her penury.