Amboise, between Blois and Tours on the south bank of ?Loire, was a resplendent royal residence in the late Middle Ages. This pleasant little town is a good base from which to explore famous castles such as Chenonceau or Chaumont. Known as Vicus Ambaciensis in Roman times, the town passed into the hands of the Counts of Anjou in the 12th century. Its castle was confiscated by the Crown in 1434; during the reign of Louis XI work began on reconstruction of the residence and continued under his son Charles VIII. Returning from his Naples campaign in 1494-95, Charles brought Italian artists to the Loire, thus introducing France to the Renaissance. Francois I, king from 1515 onwards, enhanced the grandeur of the castle still further, bringing with him, after the campaign against Milan in 1516, the brilliant artist and technician Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in Amboise until his death in 1519.