On returning to Uzès, from where they had been expelled during the Reformation, the bishops build a colossal palace. By building these impressive edifices, the King and the Church wish to exhibit their political and economic power and leave the yet undecided population in no doubt as to whom their masters are. The palace, built in the classic style, has a central bay marked with a vertical string-course. Two Atlases placed one on each side of the entrance door support a balcony at the center of the building. The Windows are surmounted by alternating arc-of-a-circle and triangular pediments (an architectural pattern used in the ducal palace a hundred years earlier, but in a different setting).
During the Revolution the bishop's palace was turned into a prison. It changed hands several times before it finally became the property of the baron de Castille, who lived there in 1804. It was subsequently used as a sub-prefecture, as barracks, and then abandoned altogether.
The first floor collapsed when restoration works began in 1974, but luckily it was possible to move the public library museum to the right wing, which happened to be ready. Works are to resume in 1994: imitation vaults will go up and a number of rooms set aside for cultural purposes.
Texts by Anne Vié (The Duchy of Uzès, Ajax Monaco Editions). Some pics by MVF