Blois blwä [key], town (1990 pop. 51,549), capital of Loir-et-Cher dept., central France, in Orléanais, on the Loire River. A commercial and industrial center with an outstanding trade in wines and brandies, it is also one of the most historic towns of France. The counts of Blois emerged in the 10th cent. as the most powerful feudal lords of France. Their line began with Thibaut the Cheat, who by various means acquired Touraine and Chartres; his successors added (11th–12th cent.) Champagne, Brie, and other lands, although in the west they were checked by the counts of Anjou. The last count of Blois, childless and heavily in debt, sold his fief to Louis, duc d'Orléans, who took possession in 1397. With the accession (1498) of Louis' grandson, Louis XII, as king of France, the countship passed to the crown as part of Orléanais. The town was a favorite royal residence. Louis XII was born in the Renaissance château there. Several States-General of France were held in the château, notably in 1576–77 and in 1588; Henri, duc de Guise, was assassinated there in 1588. The Treaties of Blois, signed in 1504–5, were a temporary settlement of the Italian Wars.
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