The site was originally occupied by the Hôtel
Henry II was an avid hunter and a participant in jousts
and tournaments. On June 30, 1559, at the Place des Vosges in Paris, during a match
to celebrate the Peace Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis with his longtime enemies,
the Habsburgs of Austria and to celebrate the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth
of Valois to King Philip II of Spain, King Henry was mortally wounded by a sliver
from the shattered lance of Gabriel Montgomery, captain of the King's Scottish Guard.
Henry's widow, Catherine de Medicis, had the Gothic pile demolished, and she removed
to the Louvre.
Originally known as the Place Royale, the Place des Vosges
was built by Henry IV from 1605 to 1612. A true square (140 m x 140 m), it embodied
the first European program of royal city planning. It is now the oldest square
in Paris. The square symmetry of the square, with its ground floor arcade,
consists of 39 houses - each made of red brick with stone facings.
The project was probably designed by Baptiste du Cerceau, and originally named the
Place Royale. The king's and queens pavilions were the center south and north gateways
The square acquired its present name in 1799 when the Department of the Vosges
(near the southwestern German border) was the first to pay its taxes associated with
particular military campaigns of that time.