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.

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Pictures of Schaafheim

The crest of SCHAAFHEIM on the wall of the Town Hall.
Mayor Reinhold Hehmann (left) and our chum Wolfgang Roth (right), the town's archivist
The old Town Hall or Rathaus seen from the tavern 'At the sign of the Ox'
The old chapel linked to the church in the snow
The Evangelical church with the remains of the old town walls in front
The old dairy building

A short description of Schaafheim, the town in Germany twinned with Richelieu


Monday 22 December 2008

Our new correspondent in Schaafheim

Schaafheim's evangelical church and the parsonage alongside

Henri Proust has just become acquainted with Herr Wolfgang Roth, who is the archivist of the German town of Schaafheim, the town twinned with Richelieu since 1989.  He has sent all sorts of information so that Henri P. can do some posts on the subject of the twinned towns on this blog.  Citoyens de Richelieu have just been visiting Schaafheim and we will see those French faces look out in photographs from a very German context, the annual Schaafheimes Weihnachtsmarkt.

The Abbé had earlier noticed a German beer tent at the Richelieu Marché de Noël, and was puzzled that the little town of Richelieu was of such interest to the German brewers.  Now all is explained.  I wonder if the gute Bürger von Schaafheim are, in reflection, a hot spot for AOC Chinon consumption.  One presumes so.

But all the data is in the German language, so the good Abbé, right in the middle of his other Christmas duties, has to dust off his German/English dictionary and get down to it.  Nose to the grindstone.  
Coming SOON.
Merry Christmas to everyone!
Fröhliche Weihnachten!
Joyeux fêtes!

Monday 15 December 2008

The mightier pen

"The pen is mightier than the sword" is a metonymic adage coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play 'Richelieu; or the Conspiracy'. The play was about Cardinal Richelieu, though in the author's words "license with dates and details... has been, though not unsparingly, indulged." 

The Cardinal's line in Act II, scene II, was more fully:
True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!
* * *
The text below the image, also drawn from Act II of this play says
"With this I at Rochelle did hand to hand engage the stalwart Englisher."

D-64850 Schaafheim - 45km southeast of Frankfurt-am-Main

View Larger Map
Schaafheim is a small town in Germany that has been twinned with Richelieu since 1989.

Friday 12 December 2008

Three winter pictures

 A A view along the town's moat where, over the intervening 366 years since the construction of the walled town, owners of properties have encroached onto the moat area to form gardens for their properties.
B The tall plane tree avenues have had a haircut this year.  Only in France would the pollarding be so extravagant and spectacular!
C The twin towers of the town's church.  Jacques Lemercier 1635.  The two obelisk-style pinnacles; like everything else in the town duplicated - 'one for the King, one for the Cardinal'.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

14 Grande Rue restoration nears completion

These three views show the garden side of this hôtel particulier - or private mansion - that has been adapted as a set of small apartments for seniors.  One can see the body of the original main house and then the dependances - extensions - that were added to it over the years.  Many of these buildings were until recently in a terrible state and really needed major restoration, such as has happened in this particular case.  It is of course sad that such grand houses cannot stay in individual ownership, but sub-division often occurred in the 17th century shortly after the death of the cardinal in 1642 as his court dissolved to reorganise themselves around the new regime of the young future Roi Soleil, King Louis XIV and his new first minister the cardinal Mazarin; Richelieu's recommendation to the regent dowager Queen Anne of Austria.

If you click on the 'topic' 14GrandeRue found on the column to the right, all the posts concerning this building's restoration will be presented to you, right from the project's beginning.

Friday 28 November 2008

The Très Riches Heures 1 - the autumn months

Le Louvre Paris


château de Vincennes

The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry or simply the Très Riches Heures (The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry) is a very richly decorated Book of Hours (containing prayers to be said by the lay faithful at each of the canonical hours of the day) commissioned by Jean, Duc de Berry in about 1410. It is probably the most important illuminated manuscript of the 15th century, "le roi des manuscrits enluminés" ("the king of illuminated manuscripts"). The Très Riches Heures consists of 416 pages, including 131 with large miniatures and many more with border decorations or historiated initials, that are among the high points of International Gothic painting in spite of their small size. There are 300 decorated capital letters. The book was worked on, over a period of nearly a century, in three main campaigns, led by the Limbourg brothers, Barthélemy van Eyck, and Jean Colombe. The book is now Ms. 65 in the Musée Condé, Chantilly, France.

I struggle to find any connection with the great cardinal or his town; but aren't they pretty, these twelve illustrations of the months of the year.  I feel sure agricultural life in 1630 was pretty much the same as 200 years before.  The ancient forested dukedom of Berry lies 70km to the east of Touraine and (if possible) eclipses Touraine's reputation as the best place in France for the hunt! 
I will put up three 'months' at a time: firstly the autumn quarter.

October: Tilling the field. In the background is the Louvre.
November: A peasant feeding the hogs acorns.
December: A wild boar hunt. In the background is the Château de Vincennes.

.... most of the castles illustrated in the calendar were owned by the duc de Berry!

Thursday 27 November 2008

Tuesday 11 November 2008

A nice plan of the Ideal Town of RICHELIEU - 'intra-muros'

This A3 detailed 1 : 2000 plan of the Ville de Richelieu 'within-the-walls' 


Thursday 6 November 2008

Richelieu's Paris - 3 The Pavillon de l'Horloge

The most famous and conspicuous work of Jacques Lemercier, premier architecte du Roy and designer of the château and town of Richelieu is the Pavillon de l'Horloge - the Clock Pavilion -which is on the western side of the main courtyard of the Louvre.

Saturday 1 November 2008

Backing up BLOGSPOT blogs

The more one writes on a blog the more nervous one becomes that the growing content might go on the blink out there in Google-land (including Picasa-land). This is because all Google Blogspot blogs are archived on a remote computer 'in the clouds' rather than on the hard-disk of the author. For some IT reason I do not understand, Blogspot does not formally offer any method of backing up data, either text or images/videos (WHY NOT?).
As this silly little blog is now 'probably' the deepest data source in the English language on our little ideal town of Richelieu in Touraine, this situation makes me nervous...
So, blogmasters, what can one do?
1 Download a copy of the 'open-source' web-browser Firefox. On macs the latest version is 3.0.3; pc's - well you can find out for yourself...
2 Prior to starting Firefox for the first time, download an extension (they call it an 'add-on') to Firefox called 'DownThemAll' 1.0.3 and install it into the Firefox browser.
3 The DownThemAll extension will appear in the Firefox main menu under 'tools'.
This (with a little improvisation) will allow you to download the data from any viewed web page.
4 If you want to download the entire blog (as I did), the way to do this is by allowing the blog's 'first' page to have a very large number of posts on it, i.e. the total number of posts written. Then all the data will be downloaded from this new super 'single page'. Remember, it may take quite a time for all those posts to download from out there onto your own computer screen!
5 Once the precious data is backed up into the file folder of your choice on your own machine (probably as an html file), remember to change back the blog's 'items per page' to a sensible number (say 12), to allow a normally quick download for your readers.
6 It needs a bit of playing with, but it has worked for me!

Another rather more prosaic method of backing-up posts is to set Blogspot so that it sends oneself an e-mail copy of the text of a new post each time a new post is loaded. If one files these e-mails carefully, one has a digital record of all that one has typed, which would in turn allow an easy recreation of any post at some time in the future. Only the first loading of a post is sent on; revisions are not forwarded (an important point if one edits repeatedly or late in the posting process). I am trying this method out too. It does not cover digital images, but these can usually be re-created from one's own photo source unless one has been so imprudent as to delete all other copies. Images nicked from the web can be re-found.
6 November 2008.  This method is working rather well too.

Friday 31 October 2008

Richelieu's Paris 1 - place des Vosges

Lusty King Henri IV of France and Navarre 1589-1610 - nicknamed le Vert Gallant - father of Richelieu's king Louis XIII, finally brought to an end the long and bloody 16th century 'wars of religion' in France. His 21-year reign is still today seen as a sort of 'Golden Age'. He was assassinated in 1610 by a fanatic catholic called François Ravillac, opening the way to the throne for his then-young elder son, Louis XIII.
Henri was interested in building and among his great remaining monuments in Paris is the place des Vosges, originally the place Royale, built in the years 1605-1612 to façade designs by Baptiste du Cerceau. The place is still entirely complete after nearly 400 hundred years (or 16 generations!); many contend Paris' first 'square' remains the most beautiful piece of urban design in Paris. It is located in the district called the Marais (the marshes) which largely escaped the Baron v. Haussmann 'improvements' of the 19th century. The cardinal de Richelieu lived in the square at number 21 (the carriage doors illustrated are from number 23) from 1615 till 1621, when he was raised to the office of the King's first minister and moved ultimately to his grand town house, the Palais Cardinal. It was he who arranged that an equestrian statue of Louis XIII be at the centre. The square was originally quite empty, and the current bosky limetree plantings are of a later aesthetic, however charming and appropriate they may seem to our day.

Richelieu's own eponymous Ideal Town in Touraine was built about twenty years later than the place Royale. There are many similarities and a few differences. The provinces; the metropolis. A curious example of close similarity is to be found with the carriage gates of the hotels particuliers (mansions) which seem to be stylistically identical to those in the cité idéale, and also a smaller but favourite theme, the 17th century ironwork door knockers in 'Louis XIII' style.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

The new look

Do you find the 'new look' more alluring?  Most of Abbé Henri Proust's flock do...

Tuesday 28 October 2008

The Cardinal's long lost old bed - FOUND.

The GREAT MAN's old bed is located in the William Randolph Hearst mansion in California.  This is the house satirised in the film 'Citizen Cane' directed by Orson Welles.  The old bed graced the voluptuous guest suite and can be seen there to this day.  The best view we have found of the bed itself is from an old postcard of the '50s.

Monday 27 October 2008

Richelieu's Paris - 2, Palais Cardinal (now Palais Royal)

The duke cardinal Armand-Jean du Plessis was born and spent most of his life (1585 - 1642) in Paris. This blog concerns itself mainly with the Ideal Town of Richelieu and the château of Richelieu in Touraine.
However here we present pictures of the cardinal duke's Paris residence, the palais Cardinal, constructed by Richelieu using the same designer as the château: King Louis XIII's premier architect, Jaques Lemercier. Richelieu built for himself a large palais just north of the old royal castle, the Louvre, located to be accessible to the royal Court. The extensive gardens to the north reached out to touch the city walls of the day.
Today the building is used for the Conseil d'État. But the property assembled by the cardinal is still there; an island of space and tranquilty in the hugga-mugga of central Paris. A good place for lunch. On his death in 1642 he left the then-new palace to the Crown and it was eagerly adopted by Anne of Austria, Queen to Louis XIII (and regent mother of little Louis XIV) on her husband's Louis' death in 1643. In comparison, the primitive Louvre building was a less attractive palace in which to live.
The boy Sun-King spent his youth in the building and it was subsequently much adapted, rebuilt and extended. It changed its name, understandably, to Palais Royal, a title which has stuck to this day.
This situation continued in succeeding generations, so apart from small fragments, the original buildings are sadly invisible. In the 18th century the colonnades had a rather racy reputation (as did Regent Street in the twin city across the channel - shady colonnades are always attractive to the creatures of the night).

Incidentally, as a fan of the theatre (and an amateur dramatist), Richelieu had a theatre in the eastern wing where Corneille and others put on their new plays. A foundation of all French theatre.

The sonny-kingy and his yummy-mummy.