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Gingins in 1168), through their kinsman, the alleged founder, Ardutius de Faucigny.
As the house of de Blonay has maintained an uninterrupted male descent to the present day, for nearly a thousand years, and has played a leading part in Savoy, Vaud, and many other countries, and, with royal origin and alliances, has vindicated its sympathy with modern ideas of a sensible character, it is essential to glance at some of the romantic and chivalric incidents of its history and to review its earlier record.
Guichenon says that the most ancient original document which makes mention of the name of de Blonay as a family surname is the charter of liberties given to the abbey of Abondance in Chablais in 1108. In this authentic document, remarks M. de Gingins, Amadeus de Blonay and Girard d'Allinges are styled by the Count of Savoy principal seigniors of the province of Chablais. This indicates that the cradle of the race of de Blonay and its most ancient possessions were situated on the southern side of Lake Leman and not on its northern shores, as is generally supposed.
Like the d’Allinges and the de Rovéréaz (originally de Alpibus, later Roverea in Latin, and in French de Rovérée), the sires of Blonay followed the growing fortunes of the Counts of Savoy, their relatives by marriage, who ruled over Chablais long before the extension of their dominion to the Pays de Vaud.
At the end of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth century, the domains of the de Blonays in Chablais extended from the lake to the valley of Abondance; while on the Vaudoisan side they were still confined to some fiefs of the church of Lausanne derived from the liberality of Bishop Lambert de Grandson. These were bestowed upon his nephew, Vaucher de Blonay, upon whose death they passed to his brother Amadeus, who thus in his turn became seignior of Corsier and of Vevey.
Count de Foras cites a document of the Abbey of Hauterive proving that it was only about the year 1175 that Pierre I. of Blonay began to build the castle of Blonay above Vevey, in the borough then called Laya, to which he gave his name. It is, on the contrary, certain that the name of de Blonay mentioned in
the charter of 1108 was derived from the lordship of Blonay near Evian, where Amadeus de Blonay resided. The origin of this domain is lost in the mists of time. Its castle is called the Château de Blonay. Like Chillon, it was originally a huge donjon, still forming the centre of the château. This dunjon was intended for the defence of the shore, and was the place where in feudal times the seigniors collected customs duties from travellers and merchants, in pursuance of the privilege granted by the Dukes of Savoy.
In coming from Evian towards La Tour Ronde, after a walk of less than half an hour one passes under the château of Blonay, whose foundations were bathed by the lake before the Simplon route was created. From the stone balcony, a fragment of which remains on its antique façade, the seignior could throw his line into the waters of the Leman, and bring up varieties of all its finny tribe.
This is the cradle of the de Blonays, and the most important of their still inhabited castles in Savoy. According to some authorities the oldest part is of the eleventh century, and took the place of a more ancient fortress.
In a magnificent copy of the · Théâtre des Etats du Duc de Savoie,' by Blaeuw, printed at the Hague in 1700, in the collections of Count de Foras at Thuyset, his château near Thonon, I examined with lively interest a fine print of Evian and its vicinity. I noticed especially, to the north-east of the town, at the Tour Ronde, château Blonay and its little chapel on the borders of the lake. The castle is here represented as composed of an imposing donjon, its two wings forming the sides of a square facing the lake; the other sides being high walls, with a tower at each corner, enclosing a spacious court. In the southeast wall there is a grand gateway. A moat surrounds the château on three sides, that towards the lake being without defence. There is a high wall also enclosing a larger oblong still further in the rear, and the pleasure-grounds therein are
artistically laid out with trees, flowers, and fountains. The trees, however, are few in number, probably in order not to obstruct the view, and to give a more artistic effect. The great chestnuts in the park are more than two centuries old.
When the donjon—the most ancient part—was built, the lake, as I have said, was beneath its walls. A tradition prevails among the peasantry that the de Blonays could then pass from their château directly to their boats. Indeed, the remains of the iron rings for mooring boats were traceable in the walls thirty years ago, though the chapel, which belonged to the château, was always, and still is, in advance of the line of the castle wall.
Out of the rock on which this sacred building stands, there wells up a ferruginous spring of legendary origin. A seignior of Blonay, who was one of the garrison of Chillon when the Bernese attacked that castle, seeing the place surrounded and on the point of surrender, leaped into the lake on horseback and, swimming the three leagues separating him from Tour Ronde, gained the bank; and as his horse's ironclad hoofs struck the rock, an iron stream gushed forth. The spring so miraculously discovered became renowned throughout the country, and is still believed to possess mysterious potency.
The chapel was built in 1536, in fulfilment of de Blonay's vow on that occasion, and dedicated to the patron saint of fishermen, as may be seen from the inscription over the entranceSub Invocatione Sancti Andrece Apostoli—above which is a marble bas-relief of the Holy Family. On the altar is recorded, in Latin, the restoration of the oratory in 1893 by William de Blonay and Anna his wife. The chapel stands upon an erratic boulder brought by the glaciers. Its exterior still preserves remains of ancient frescoes.
During a visit to the castle in 1879 I found over a window, which seemed to have been blocked up, on the more modern wing the date 1539 engraved on a block of molasse. This proved to be a former entrance, and is now a doorway leading from the dining-hall to the offices.
One approaches Blonay from Evian through an avenue of luxuriant walnut-trees, and winding amid verdant lawns reaches the entrance-gate in the rear of the château. The moat is filled with rich beds of colour. One of the towers depicted by Blaeuw