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 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...'


Monday 16 November 2015

French héros and héroines

N  by Antonio Canova
We remember the héroes and héroines of France during this shocking week-end in Paris.

More about Antonio Canova's work

… The chesnut trees in that country all are withered
And meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven;
The pale faced moon looks bloody on the earth
And lean looked prophets whisper fearful change;
Peaceful men look sad and ruffians dance and leap,
The one in fear to lose what they enjoy,
The other to enjoy by rage and war…

- William Shakespeare -
Richard II Act 2 Scene 4 - The Welsh Capitan
1564 - 1616


Friday 6 November 2015

Two phoenix-es (phoeni…phoenae?) arise

On rue des Gaultiers, on the western edge of the ville idéale, up against the little river Mable where it forms at the eastern part of the moat, two almost new houses are being re-built.

The first replaces old utility buildings that have collapsed, but interestingly, Bâtiments de France have permitted timber-frame structures to replace the original ones constructed of tuffeau rubble masonry.  They have insisted, we understand, that the form of the prior buildings be replicated and that a still standing party wall be re-assimilated into the structure.

The ground slab and the softwood timber wall frames have been built so far, but the project includes a few internal oak structural members that will no doubt still be visible in the interior when all the surfaces are completed.

The house has an attractive back garden overlooking the Moat/Mable river. Hopefully the little river will not overflow its banks, as happened in 2013 (and 1956) and flood the new house.


Progress on the reconstruction of the old industrial works at the western foot of place Louis XIII (formerly the veal and stock market-place), continues apace.  The frontal wall and roof has been restored and re-windowed, while the rear elevation to the moat/Mable has been reconstructed.  The old iron and steel structures within are now rationalised to suit the new 'adaptive re-use', retaining some of the 19th century 'industrial archaeology'.  
It will be quite spectacular and will really lift the perception of the square, replacing the former gloomy dereliction.  Apparently the ground floor hall will be used as a gallery for art projects.

The small remnant of the 17th century that flanks the fausse porte to the immediate south, has been correctly restored to its original state; even the rendering has been hand done, in contrast the the mechanical finish on the adjacent re-born 19th century structure.

Hard to see, but the back garden is being fully restored - more Venice than Richelieu.  Perhaps a gondola…?

19th century reborn

17th century restoration 

place Louis XIII


Wednesday 4 November 2015

Autumn in the parc de Richelieu, October 2015 - green goes russet!

The orangery surmounted with the green god Vertumnus

the duc's cellars surmounted with Bacchus



Thursday 15 October 2015

A Cape and Rapier festival Facebook page...

 & 'all for one and one for all...'

not so many swords-women in the 17th century
except, of course, Milady de Winter!
Described as being twenty-two, tall, fair-haired and uncommonly beautiful, with brilliant blue eyes and black lashes and brows, Milady also possesses a voice that can seduce and bewitch. A capable and intelligent French spy who can effortlessly pass as a native Englishwoman Milady's beautiful exterior hides a diabolically cunning, ruthless and cruel interior; she is remorseless and unrepentant for her countless "misdeeds" and often described as appearing demonic and frighteningly ugly in the instant when she is thwarted in her aims.


Wednesday 30 September 2015

Christmas cards of Richelieu in the snow….


To raise funds to help a restoration project in our beautiful local town, we would like to sell you a 'Richelieu Christmas Card'.

Tour Sainte Anne is an iconic 17th century vestige of cardinal-duc Armand-Jean du Plessis'  Richelieu - untouched, architecturally perfect but now dilapidated. As friends of Richelieu, we would like to ask you to help by buying this wonderful and evocative Christmas/Greetings Card.

Alan Halliday, an acclaimed professional artist who lives nearby, has kindly donated the use of his painting free of charge.  The interior of the card will be blank to enable its use for Christmas but also all year-round.

'Richelieu in the snow'

All the profits from the sale of the card will be donated to the restoration of Tour Sainte Anne.

 The restoration of the tower continues the work of Le Fonds de Dotation - Ville Cardinale which has already restored the gates at the Porte de Chinon

The card will be quality produced with a full colour front page and supplied with an envelope included. The minimum order is for 20 cards and envelopes at £20/€26 (plus p&p if required.)

To ensure that we can get the most competitive printing costs and ensure we raise as much money for the project as possible, if you are interested, please could you give an indication of the number of cards you would like to purchase in an e-mail to Alison Kimber-Bates.

Should this idea be widely embraced, Alan Halliday has a number of other wonderful images that could be used to create further greeting cards. We would like to encourage other local artists to also consider donating the reproduction rights of their images to be used to fundraise for this and other projects in the future.

If you know anyone who you think would like to purchase these cards, please feel free to forward this e-mail to them and help us to restore the Tour Sainte Anne. If you could indicate how many cards you would like, that would be very helpful so that we can get the order placed.
We look forward to hearing back from you to place your order.

Ali and David Kimber-Bates


Thursday 17 September 2015

Dove/Pigeon and the golden girls...

Where is this, then?

n.b. golden dove on mademoiselle 1,  pigeon on the tête de mademoiselle 4