Éminence Rouge

The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

What is the collective noun for 'picnic tables'?

…maybe a picnic in the parc de Richelieu with your true-love?…
…is there a table free?…
14 February 2016


Thursday, 11 February 2016

The phantom cardinal-duc

…a huge spooky and shadowy figure appeared...
Le Chasteau de Richelieu
L'Histoire des Dieux et des Heros de l'Antiquité,
avec des Réfléxions morales.
par Mr. Benjamin Vignier - à Saumur
chez Henri Desbordes, imprimeur
& Marchand Librairie
avec privilege du Roy

Benjamin Vignier was the steward in charge of the Château de Richelieu shortly after the cardinal duc's lifetime. He left this detailed description of the palace in 1681, presumably in the lifetime of the second duke.  It is the principal written text describing the magnificent building at its apogee and detailing the artistic treasures that it contained, in particular the painting, the statues and busts of Roman antiquities.
click here below

Richelieu in Love
The Youth of Charles 1

This 1850's play about Queen Anne of Austria and her paramour Lord Buckingham was a popular production on the London stage.
click here below


Monday, 1 February 2016

The façade of the old opticians on the Grande Rue in grand ru-in

Gone bust - now rebuilt
pretty sign, isn't it!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Alexandre Dumas père - b.2 July 1802 - d.5 Dec 1870

d'Artagnon and his three chums….
Alexandre Dumas is the author whose book 'The Three Musketeers' subverts the reputation of the historical cardinal-duc de Richelieu. Dumas' famous fizzing narrative needs a pantomime villain to serve the story and the cardinal-duc's portrayal fits right into this purpose.  And so popular is the book that few consider if his machiavellian and cynical portrayal was really deserved.  Another picture emerges if one reads any balanced historical text: the real Richelieu was machiavellian sometimes, but on other occasions quite visionary for his time and the turbulent context of the early 17th century.

Alexandre Dumas in 1855
author of The Three Musketeers
Dumas has, of course, done a great favour to the little town of Richelieu, even if he links its creation the that 'literary stinker', the devious Armand-Jean du Plessis.

Better some publicity and reputation than none!

The Dumas memorial by Gustave Doré

d'Artagnan in a Van Dyke pose...
limbs akimbo, 'to occupy space'

A first edition of Les Trois Mousquetaires of 1844 at auction


Saturday, 16 January 2016

The proposed 'green route' between Chinon and Richelieu

Chinon castle across the Vienne river

The existing but derelict railway line that connects the cité ideale of Richelieu and the historic Plantagenet fortress town of Chinon - home castle of Henry II and Richard Coeur-de-Lion, both kings of England - will soon be converted to a 'green route' for cyclists and pedestrians.  It runs along the picturesque valley of the river Veude and later upstream, the little river Mable.

Voie verte Richelieu-Chinon : c'est parti !
Voie verte Richelieu-Chinon : c'est parti !
Posted by Office de Tourisme du Pays de Richelieu on Saturday, 16 January 2016

Above a link to a video taken by drones that show the path of the new connection.

for a direct connection

within the fortress of Chinon


Friday, 15 January 2016

The cartouche by Tassin on a 28" square wall panel

While the Abbé Henri-Armand Proust lies in winter cold in the cemetery outside the walls of the cité idéale, he seems nonetheless to be keeping abreast with the latest in information technology and home decor.

He scanned his new copy of the Tassin plan of the town (engraved in 1630) in high definition (1200 pixels/inch) and used Photoshop to clean up around the cartouche. The original cartouche graphic itself is only about two inches square.  

Then he made a dense jpg file.  He then sent this off to a company who can print digital files onto canvas and mount the result on timber stretchers. They did a grand job!

Here below the rather elegant results.

Do any of his parishoners want a similar panel for themselves? -  the Abbé can easily order more - maybe in support of the Fonds de Dotation and the imminent restoration of the so-called Tour Sainte Anne….

the canvas wall panel


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The old works, place Louis XIII - 3 - January 2016

This project has now been almost completed on the exterior and now makes an enormous change to the feel of the place Louis XIII, originally the cattle market of the town, located behind the market hall, La Halle.

The square itself has been recently re-landscaped - all pleached lime trees and box hedges - with a refurbished fountain in the centre.

The four flanking ranges of elevations to the square are being steadily smartened up and restored, so this individual project makes an enormous difference. Unusually Bâtiments de France have permitted the restoration of a 19th century building - some sort of engineering works - admitting the 'rich palimsest' approach to the architectural history of the little town.

Someone* should now take on the restoration of the masonry of the neighbouring 'fausse porte' that acts as a scruffy interlude between to two recently restored buildings. The good Abbé understands that formerly the town's dog pound was located behind the locked central doors. Today there is a boxy sub-station hidden there behind. 

It would be nice to allow curious visitors to go through to the banks of the Mable Canal, but statutory infrastructure is notoriously hard to get moved.

the new windows installed
a general view of the project
adjacent to the mannerist 1632 fausse porte
* the Fonds de Dotation perhaps
fit-out approaches...
looking to the canal of the Mable behind

Monday, 11 January 2016

The 'tobacco barn (?)' rebuild - 3 - January 2016

Someone said that the new building replaces a former burnt-out timber tobacco barn that stood on the site. So, for once, Bâtiments de France has accepted a post-17th-century non-masonry replacement, although I understand that the new owner was obliged to keep the same geometric form as the old utility building. Timber tobacco barn translates to a 21st century 'green structure', unique within the walls.
We hope the river Mable doesn't overflow its banks too soon, as in 2014.

The project advances. Click HERE for other posts of the works to this site.
looking north-east up the rue des Gaultiers

street façade

interior framework - softwood and plywood panels  and oak free structure

looking across the road from inside - a display of the new ochre colours

a junction of materials

the cheminée of the former neighbour to the North

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Two nice prints by Tassin - 1632

The good Abbé HP, a bit short of Xmas presents for 2015, bought the second print from e-bay this morning at a 10% discount (for £54!).  Should he clinch the duchy map as well? Will his stipend stretch that far, or should he keep what little money he still has for the charity box, as Vincent de Paul recommends?

These two engravings were made while the new town was actually being constructed and Maestro Tassin clearly hadn't yet been to the new Richelieu - ville idéale -  when the image was made. Inter alia, the town plan shows the du Plessis clan's château that pre-dated the duc's castle and town.

A map of the newly created 'Duchy' of Richelieu of 1629
'Duke of Richelieu' was a title in the French nobility. It was created on 26 November 1629 for Armand Jean Cardinal du Plessis, (Cardinal Richelieu) who, as a celibate clergyman, had no issue to pass it down to. The title instead passed to his great-nephew, Armand Jean de Vignerot, the 2nd duke, grandson of his elder sister Françoise (1577–1615), who had married René de Vignerot, Seigneur de Pontcourlay († 1625).


Publication: Les Plans et Profils de toutes les principals villes et lieux considerable de France. Ensemble les cartes generals de chacune province & les particulieres de chaque government d’icelles. Par le Sieur Tassin Geographe ordinaire de la Majesté. A Paris, chez Martin Gobert, au Palais, en la Galerie des Prisonniers. M. DC. XXXIV. Avec privilege du Roy.

This engraving is from an atlas showing a total of 410 maps, bird’s eye views and panoramas of provinces and towns in early 17th century France, during the reign of Louis XIII, the Just. Tassin divided the atlas in to 17 sections, namely Picardie, Champagne, Lorraine, Bretaigne, Normandie, Isle de France, Brie, Bourgogne, Dauphine, Oranges, Provence Languedoc, Foix & Bearn, Guyenne, Poictou, Loire and Beauce, fifteen of which are Provinces, one a Principality and one a region along the river Loire.

Christopher Nicolas Tassin was active from 1633 to 1635, initially in Dijon and subsequently in Paris. He became ‘ingenieur et geographe du roi’, under the patronage of Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII's first minister, having previously worked as a military engineer. Many of his fortification plans are ‘firsts’ which were subsequently copied/issued by Nicolas Berey and Antoine de Fer.

The sheets measure approximately 15.0 x 19.2 cm, and the actually engravings measure approx. 10.5 x 15.1 cm. The pages are single sided.

Engraver: Tassin, Christopher Nicolas,
Date: 1634
Technique: Copper plate

A rare antique plan/bird's-eye view of Richelieu (Fr.).
Merry Christmas everyone!


Friday, 4 December 2015

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Bonnes fêtes 2015 - le Fonds de Dotation - The Endowment Fund

in 2016
We hope to see some renovation action in the
Tour Sainte Anne
- Restoration after 375 years -

'Before 1...'

'Before 2...'


'Before 3...'