Monday 15 February 2010

Pierrefonds - medieval-cum-Disney in style

The words  say:
Pierrefonds raconte
Louis d'Orléans, frère de Charles VI at Régent après la folie du Roi, me fit bâtir en 1390 par Le Noir architecte royal.
Il mourut assassiné par Jean-sans-Peur, Duc de Bourgogne.  Son fils, Charles d'Orléans, passa plus de temps dans les geôles d'Angleterre à composer des rondeaux qu'entre mes murs.  Cependant je soutenais le siège des Bourgignons qui ne parvenaient pas à m'enlever.  Plus tard, je fus offert à Antoine d'Estreé père de la belle Gabrielle qu'aimait le Roi Henri.
Mais François d'Estreé, fils de ce seigneur ayant bravé Louis XIII, le Roi me fit prendre et démanteler.
Napoléon I acheta mes ruines, Napoléon III enfin me confia à Viollet le Duc qui me refit ce que je suis, pour votre plaisir.
or, in English:
Pierrefonds tells
Louis d'Orléans, brother of Charles VI and Regent during the King's episodes of madness, had me built in 1390 by the royal architect, Le Noir.
He [Louis] was assassinated by John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. His son, Charles d'Orléans, spent more time in jails in England composing roundels than between my walls**. However I survived the siege from the Bourgundians who failed to take me. Later I was given to Antoine Estre father of the beautiful Gabrielle who loved King Henry.
But Francis of Estre son of this lord having defied Louis XIII, the King had me captured and dismantled [by Richelieu].
Napoleon I bought my ruins, Napoleon III finally entrusted me to Viollet le Duc who rebuilt me as I am, for you to enjoy.
** The first Valentine was attributed to Charles d'Orléans!

C'est en 1857 que Napoléon III confie la restruction du château à Viollet le Duc. Le Châtelet, tour César et la tour de Charlemagne: ces tours ont 38 m de haut et 5 à 6 m d'épaisseur.
In 1857, Napoleon III commissioned Viollet le Duc to reconstruct the castle. The small castle, Tower of Caesar and Tower of Charlemagne : These towers are 38 meters high and 5 to 6 m thick.

I bought the second of these cards when I visited Pierrefonds Château in 1993, and the first much more recently at a flea market.  I think it very probably dates from the 1970s, partly because of its style.

The first card tells the story of Pierrefonds very briefly but well.  The unfortunate thing about the castle, to my mind, is that the rebuilding of it by Viollet le Duc has preserved it in aspic, an idealised version of the original.  The rebuilding wasn't finished until six years after the death of Viollet le Duc.  Sadly, it doesn't look at all ancient and had no atmosphere, or didn't when I saw it, more like a Disney construction or a film set than genuinely medieval.  In fact it was used as the setting for the BBC drama, Merlin.
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  1. I think it looks like a real castle. Disney should be so nice. :)

  2. It is a real castle, I suppose. It just doesn't look real somehow. Disney castles probably sway if you push them too hard. :)


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