During François I's reign, the castle was rarely inhabited. The king spent barely seven weeks there in total, comprising short hunting visits. As the castle had been constructed with the purpose of short stays, it was not practical to live there on a longer-term basis. Massive rooms, open windows and high ceilings meant heating was impractical. Similarly, as the castle was not surrounded by a village or estate, there was no immediate source of food other than game. Food had to be brought with the group, typically up to 2,000 people at a time.
As a result, the castle was unfurnished during this period. All furniture, wall coverings, eating implements and so forth were brought specifically for each hunting trip, a major logistical exercise, but not unusual for great lords at this period. It is for this reason that much furniture from the era was built to be disassembled to facilitate transportation.
François died of a heart attack in 1547.
Louis XIII & Louis XIV
For more than 80 years after the death of King François, French kings abandoned the castle, allowing it to fall into decay. In 1639 King Louis XIII gave it to his brother, Gaston d'Orleans, who saved the castle from ruin by carrying out restoration work.
Louis XIV had the great keep restored and furnished the royal apartments. The king then added a 1,200-horse stable, enabling him to use the castle as a hunting lodge and a place to entertain a few weeks each year. Nonetheless, Louis XIV abandoned the castle in 1685.
From 1725 to 1733, Stanislas Leszczyński (Stanislas I), the deposed King of Poland and father-in-law of King Louis XV, lived at Chambord.
In 1745, as a reward for valour, the king gave the castle to Maurice de Saxe, Marshal of France who installed his military regiment there. Maurice de Saxe died in 1750 and once again the colossal castle sat empty for many years.
The Comte de Chambord
In 1792, the Revolutionary government ordered the sale of the furnishings. Wall panellings were removed and floors were taken up and sold for the value of their timber, and, according to M de la Saussaye, the panelled doors were burned to keep the rooms warm during the sales. The empty castle was left abandoned until Napoleon Bonaparte gave the castle to Louis Alexandre Berthier.
The castle was subsequently purchased from his widow for the infant Duke of Bordeaux, Henri Charles Dieudonné (1820-1883) who took the title Comte de Chambord.
A brief attempt at restoration and occupation was made by his grandfather King Charles X (1824-1830) but in 1830 both were exiled. During the Franco-Prussian War, (1870-1871) the castle was used as a field hospital.
The Ducal family of Parma
The final attempt to make use of the colossus came from the Comte de Chambord but after the Comte died in 1883, the castle was left to his sister's heirs, the Ducal family of Parma, Robert, Duke of Parma who died in 1907 and after him, Elias, Prince of Parma.
Attempts at restoration ended with the onset of World War I in 1914.
The castle was confiscated as enemy property in 1915, but the family of the Duke of Parma sued to recover it. His suit was not settled until 1932.
In 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the art collections of the Louvre and Compiègne museums (including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo) were stored at the Château de Chambord. An American B-24 Liberator bomber crashed onto the castle lawn on June 22, 1944.
Restoration work was not begun until a few years after World War II ended in 1945.
Today, Chambord is a major tourist attraction.