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.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Hobbes and 'Leviathan' - frontispiece by Abraham Bosse

In 1651 the celebrated Parisian hugenot engraver Abraham Bosse, born in Tours, made this famous illustration for the for the frontispiece of the publication of englishman Thomas Hobbes' philosophical work that considers the nature of the commonwealth in a perspective drawn during and after the slaughterous English civil war.  He had met the philosopher during Hobbes' 1640-1651 stay in Paris. In 'Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme and Power of the common wealth, Eccesiastical and Civil', the polity is represented as a giant figure overlooking a rather ville-de-Richelieu-like townscape, his body made up of many individual citizens (all men!), his individual face and hands implying a personalising figure of state. He elucidates for the first time in European political philosophy the 'social contract' of governance and the need of the consent of the governed.   A monarchy that cannot act except though its body of citizenry.  And a monarchy that occupies both a temporal and religious role; sword and crook. This near 'heresy' later got him in trouble with the catholics in France and even the church in England.

While the cardinal de Richelieu, and his successor cardinal Mazarin would lead the French monarchy of Louis XIV, XV and XVI to the fatal absolutism that was finally smashed in the French revolution of 1789, Hobbes was postulating the kingship to be exemplified by Charles II and later by William and Mary and the Georges. In short, the formalisation of a limited constitutional monarchy.

Bosse would certianly have known of the late great prelate's architectural wonder, located not far from his town of birth.

Maybe, I spy with my little eye, within the famous image, the twin obelisk-ed towers of Our Lady of Richelieu built by Jacques Lemercier only a few years before in the 1630s.  Certainly the little ideal town depicted in Bosse's illustration looks pretty familiar.


Picasa albums of pictures of the model of Richelieu

If you click
you will be connected to an album of photos of the cité idéale of RICHELIEU constructed as a computer-assisted-drafting -  a CAD - model of the town, emphasising the original layout concept of the king's architect, Jacques Lemercier, and his client, the wise cardinal-duc.  This model was initiated as a study of the old entrance gates, in particular the existing northern monumental gate to town and castle called the Porte de Chinon, or originally the Porte de Paris.  This structure is now in poor condition and needs restoration.  The model emphasises how it could look, returned more to its original state, now including the 'missing' draw-bridge, which was, by contemporary report, shut every evening to protect the good burghers from the perils of the night.

If you click 
you will be connected to a Picasa photo album of the existing porte de chinon,  taken in mid-winter 2009 in the weak December sunshine. One notices immediately how the original design has been encrusted with 'improvisations', as generations of richelais have built 'lean-to's onto the free walls of the perimeter.  Other original bits have been removed or demolished, as they had only a formal rather than a practical purpose.

Some people worry about the copyright of graphic material available on the web and how it may easily be plagiarised or copied.  As the entire purpose of this particular blog is to publicise the little town to a wider audience, copy away; fear not; help our effort to lay bare this belle dormante.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Éminence Rouge soon to be in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

The Abbé Henri Proust received a kind e-mail from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA that reports that a version of Dumas' The Three Musketeers will be sortly presented at the Hale Centre theatre.  One can follow all the adventures of this huge new theatre at their Facebook page here: Hale Centre on Facebook

The part of his Eminence is to be played by actor Craig Bowen, who, in immersing himself in the part, has read of matters RICHELIEU on this very site.

Now his Eminence was  great fan of the theatre and penned a few dramas himself*, even if he did have his spats with the great Corneille over El Cid, which disputably started the general lapse in standards by going outside the formalities of the Classical Manner.  Richelieu had his own private theatre (rather like Mr. and Mrs. Hale). So his shade will be proud to be re-animated on their boards by Mr. Bowen.  A 'latter-day' Garrick!

The Hale Theatre Building
The Hale Centre Theatre at Harman Hall, the largest center-stage theatre in the North America, made its theatrical debut in October 1998. A professional cast of local thespians perform plays written by Ruth and Nathan Hale, founders of the theatre, as well as traditional plays and musicals. The 41,900-square-foot facility is the first theatre-in-the-round built in the Salt Lake Valley in 36 years. The theatre seats up to 560 people and innumerable effects can be produced by the stage that both rotates and elevates in sections.
*they weren't much good, apparently!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

a CAD model of the cité idéale of Richelieu

This model was constructed in Form-Z version 4.0.3 (rather out of date, but not completely legacy software - current version 7.0.1!) from the digital cadastral plan of the town, itself downloaded from the French governmental web site. It shows the extent of the original constructions at the death of the cardinal duc in 1642. Only the central strip of the town has been modelled.
Above the town floats the monogram of the good cleric - Armand Iacobus Cardinal Richelieu. This monogram AICR was a motif often used decoratively in the now-demolished château. It can be still be seen in the doors from that structure preserved at the Mairie.