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From The London Quarterly Review. THE CHATEAUX OF THE LOIRE.*
THE famous town of Tours, on the banks of the rapid and sandy stream of the Loire, lies a hundred and forty-five miles south-west of Paris. The charms of its situation have been much overrated, but it is a place with a great history. Under the proud name of Casarodunum it is mentioned in the itinerary of Antonine, and in the third century holds rank as a free State. After three hundred years of ease and prosperity under its Roman masters, days of fighting began, when new walls had to be built round Tours, and the citizens, who had grown accustomed to peace, were compelled to buckle on their armor and defend their good town against its foes. All the tides of life in those early ages flowed by Tours. It was the centre of the great network of Roman roads which bound together Poitiers, Chartres, Bruges, Orleans, Le Mans and Angers. From this town Christianity spread throughout Gaul. Its first bishop, St. Gatien, was one of a party of missionaries sent from Rome to evangelize the Gallic provinces; St. Lidorius, the second bishop, began the cathedral the oldest in Touraine - in memory of his predecessor. Before the end of the fourth century St. Martin was installed as metropolitan. He had served in the army under Constantine, had been imprisoned and flogged at Milan for denouncing Arianism, and had founded the convent of Ligugé in the wilds of Poitiers, probably the oldest monastic establishment in France. When Lidorius died, in 370, the clergy insisted on having him as their head. Their choice was justified by the rapid spread of Christianity. On every side the heathen of Gaul hasten to join the Church. At last St. Martin, worn down by toil, retreated for rest to St. Symphorien, on the opposite bank of the Loire, "backed by
1. Old Touraine: the Life and History of the Famous Châteaux of France. By Theodore Andrea Oxford. Two volumes. London: Percival & Co.
Cook, B.A., sometime Scholar of Wadham College,
the limestone rock and peering down across the greensward to the river, where later on was to rise the noble Abbey of Marmontier, whose greatest abbot was the famous Alcuin of York." Our Martinmas still keeps alive the memory of the great prelate's festival on the 11th of November. His tomb, says Mr. Cook, “was the ancient sanctuary, the Delphic oracle of France, the centre of the Merovingian world, where its kings came to question destiny at the shrine round which the counts of Blois and of Anjou broke so many lances. Mans, Angers, and all Brittany were dependent on the See of Tours, whose canons were the Capels and Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany, the Count of Flanders and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Archbishops of Mayence, of Cologne, and Compostello." Tours prospered through the concourse of pilgrims to its shrine. Its population multiplied tenfold; its mint became as famous as that of Paris; its silks were finer than any other part of France could produce, until Nantes and Lyons began to vie with its artificers. Charlemagne, eager to secure a worthy man for the See, summoned Alcuin, who had been trained under our own Bede, from Rome, and made him bishop. The emperor's three sons were taught in his famous school. He begged Charlemagne's permission to send England for some books, the "flowers of British learning; so that they may be found not only in the garden close of York, but that Touraine also may have its share in the fruits of Paradise."
Dark days came when the Northmen rowed up the Loire and burned St. Martin's Abbey, but the Counts of Anjou restored the place and granted many privileges to the brave citizens. Fulk the Good might now be seen sitting beside the dean in the abbey. He waged no wars and cared little for politics. Legend has gathered round his memory. Once, it is said, after all had refused the man's appeal, he bore a loathsome leper on his shoulders to the shrine of St. Martin, to find whilst sitting in the choir that the leper was Christ himself. But it is an
other count - Fulk Nerra, the Black Falcon - who has left his stamp most deeply
on Touraine. Every town in the region | his widowed daughter, whom the loss of has its legend of this dashing soldier. the White Ship had driven to the cloisters. He was a born fighter, who led his cavalry Other members of the house gathered to again and again on the foe at Conquereux, bid farewell to the count. Geoffrey Plan"as the storm wind sweeps down upon tagenet, who wore a spray of the golden the thick cornrigs." That victory made broom which brightens the fields of his him master of the lower reaches of the native province, was there, his “fair and Loire. He already held Amboise through ruddy countenance lit up by the lightning his mother's right; Loches had come to glance of a pair of brilliant eyes." His him through his wife. Both these for- broad shoulders and active frame bore tresses became centres from which he witness that he was no unworthy scion of kept up his fierce struggle with Odo, his brave house. But Geoffrey was also a Count of Blois. He now built a long man of culture, whose intellectual gifts crescent of forts from Angers, on the west lifted him far above the ordinary fighting of Tours, to Amboise on the east, with a baron of those turbulent times. A few view to cut out Touraine from the do- years after the scene at Fontevrault Mamains of Odo. An occasional visit to the tilda bore a son at Le Mans, who afterHoly Land, and the erection of an abbey wards became King Henry II. of England. at Beaulieu, beneath his high tower at The old feud between Anjou and Blois Loches, were meant as atonement for broke out again when Stephen, third son many a deed of blood. Mad bursts of of the Count of Blois, succeeded in grasppassion, which would have wrecked most ing the English crown. It was not till men's lives," seem scarcely to have made 1154 that Henry Plantagenet was crowned a break in his cool, calculating, far-seeing at Westminster. He was the true depolicy; a rapid and unerring perception scendant of the Black Falcon, and made of his own ends, a relentless obstinacy in his court "a very pandemonium of energy." pursuing them." Fulk had turned north- His power steadily grew on both sides of wards to Maine - thus giving the first the Channel. Thomas-à-Becket filled a sign of the advancing wave of Norman large place in the history of those days. conquest when he was called home to In 1163, as Archbishop of Canterbury, be repel a sharp invasion from Blois. The attended a council held by the pope at Black Falcon retook two of his captured Tours; in 1170 he met his royal master, fortresses and seized Chinon. All Tou- to whom he had been reconciled the preraine, except its capital, now belonged to vious year, at Tours. Henry was on his the Counts of Anjou. The conqueror way to Amboise, whence he wrote, in paid a pilgrimage to Palestine, and died Becket's presence, a letter instructing his near Metz on his way homeward. It was son to restore the archbishop's estates. left for his son, Geoffrey Martel, to stretch the boundary of his realm over Maine and capture Tours after an obstinate siege. More than seventy years later, in 1119, Matilda of Anjou married our Prince William, son of Henry Beauclerc. The future lord of England, Normandy, and Anjou was drowned next year in the White Ship, amid the lamentations of three kingdoms. Henry I. now married his daughter Matilda, widow of the Emperor Henry V., to Geoffrey Plantagenet, son of Fulk, Count of Anjou. A family gathering was held in the great Abbey of Fontevrault. Fulk had received the cross from Archbishop Hildebert in the Cathedral of Tours, and had come to the abbey to see
Tours is the best centre from which to visit "the myriad châteaux of the Loire," which still bear "witness to the skill and training of the architects and sculptors of Touraine." The slow trains to Chinon give the traveller ample opportunity to study the scenery. "The sands that line the river-beds are fringed with willows, bending down as if to sip its waters; poplars, aspens, and acacias shade the stream, where countless little islets break the silver current." It is strange to think that from the soft sunshine of this afternoon land of idleness and laughter sprang the martial Counts of Anjou, and our own fiery Plantagenets. Balzac speaks of "the sentiment of beauty which breathes
in the region of Tours," where in "spring | buildings are now levelled to the ground, love flies at large beneath the open sky, ... in autumn the air is full of memories of those who are no more." When the train reached Chinon on the banks of the Vienne, the first step into the little square beyond the station gates showed that the visitors had chanced to come on the chief market day of the town at the end of Sep. tember.
The roads were closed in with tall trees, whose sides were cut with somewhat frigid exactitude in lines parallel to the direction of the pavement; they were full of country girls, brown-cheeked, and black-eyed, arrayed in the picturesque lace caps of their province; booths of every kind were full of busy traffic; skeleton men and fat women in their fullest glory were disputing for attention with tiny travelling theatres and vendors of malodorous refreshment. No one seemed in any particular hurry to do anything; so imitating the frame of mind of the inhabitants, we aimlessly strolled up the long straight road towards the bridge that spans the reddish waters of the
Here the press grew thicker, and round the statue of Rabelais was a gay crowd of buyers and sellers, of laughing girls and chattering children, carts and donkeys laden with country produce, geese and chickens dead and alive, the very scene of busy happiness and careless human nature that Rabelais himself enjoyed and described, too, when he tells how Couillatris goes to Chinon, "ville noble ville antique voyre première du monde," to buy oxen, cows and sheep, pigs, capon, geese, and a whole catalogue of sound comestibles.
The satirist was born at Chinon in 1490. His statue, which has caught the genius of the man far better than the simpering monument erected to him at Tours, looks out on a busy little square crowded with gaily decorated booths and thronged with traffickers. The hill above the town is crowded by the "long broken line of the three fortresses whose ruins combine to form the relic of feudal strength known as Chinon." Countless vines flourish peacefully within the old home of the Plantagenets. On the extreme right stood the castle and chapel of St. George, built by the Plantagenets to protect the one weak point a tongue of land which unites the promontory on which the fortress rests with the hills beyond. These
but the fine stone bridge which united them to the Château du Milieu is still standing. As travellers present themselves "the little guardian in petticoats looks through a slit in the side of the room where soldiers once used to work the portcullis. A high wall with remnants of chimneys is the only relic of the apart ment where Jeanne d'Arc first met the the guard-room and armory of the royal king of France. The visitor next enters apartments, with the kitchen and livingroom whose windows are furnished with low stone seats from which the Vienne is seen curving round to join the Loire. A flight of stairs leads down to the moat, which is crossed by a stone bridge and defended by two towers erected in the thirteenth century. Within one of them the prisons lie vault below vault. Fort du Coudray, the third castle, stands "at the extreme western edge of the cliff; its chief feature is the fine Tour du Moulin, where the mill of the fortress once stood, whose pointed leaden roof and widespread sails must have been a strange feature in the old castle. Along the wall, of which this tower forms the western corner, are the oldest relics of the twelfthcentury buildings."
Chinon, more than any other of the châteaux of Touraine, bears the stamp of France has been left far behind. The antiquity. The visitor feels that modern place is a mass of ruins — “a very wilderness of towers and battlements." The dense woodland of larches, oaks, and firs, to the north-east, formed, Mr. Cook thinks, one of the chief attractions of the castle for the Black Falcon and our Henry II., whose favorite home in France was here. The French Windsor was the scene of some of his sharpest sorrows. His unduti ful son Richard had seized his father's treasury at Chinon when news of the Saracen conquest of Jerusalem led him to take the cross from the Archbishop of Tours. Before he left France he joined the French king in an attack upon his father who was hotly besieged in his native town of Le Mans. Henry escaped from the flaming town towards the Norman frontier, then changing his route he dashed back to
bore her up through the trials of her stay there amid the jeering courtiers. But at length Joan conquered the king's irresolu tion and rode out clad in complete armor to accomplish the promised deliverance.
Chinon at such a breathless pace that his knights fainted or died of fatigue and wounds on the way. Philip of France now took Tours, and Henry was compelled to sign a humiliating peace at Colombières. On his return to Chinon after that bit- A less pleasing picture of olden days at ter scene his chancellor read aloud to the Chinon is the brilliant reception given king the list of rebels. "Sire," he said, there in 1498 to Cæsar Borgia, the infa"may Jesus Christ help me! The first mous son of the infamous Pope Alexander name which is written here is the name of VI. Such a procession as his had probaCount John, your son." The old king bly never streamed into the castle before. turned his face to the wall. He had re- "First came eighty mules in gorgeous ceived his death-blow. As he lay uncon- harness, blazoned with Cæsar Borgia's scious he was heard to murmur: "Shame, crest and arms, followed by the finest shame on a conquered king." When the horses of the prince's stables; then end drew near, his servants bore him to eighteen pages riding," clad in velvet, two the castle chapel that he might breathe out of them resplendent in cloth of gold; then his soul before the altar. Thence the came more mules, and, after a flourish of dead king, "robed as for coronation, with drums and trumpets, Borgia and his suite a crown of gold upon his head, a gold ring | rode into Chinon. The duke wore a dress upon his finger, sandals upon his feet, and of red satin and cloth of gold, beset with a sceptre in his gloved right hand," was jewels. His cap was adorned with great borne to Fontevrault, where Richard came rubies, his boots strewn with precious to see his murdered father. The Arch-stones. Louis XII. wanted a divorce, bishop of Tours buried him before the high altar in July, 1189.
Borgia wanted a dukedom, and both were gratified. Such are some of the scenes which crowd before the mind of a visitor to the greatest of all the châteaux of Touraine. For two centuries it has been slowly mouldering, but ages must pass before the old home of the Plantagenets has crumbled into dust.
Richard had soon to pay the penalty of his misconduct. In 1193 the attacks made on Touraine by his old ally, the French king, were so fierce and systematic that he left England for Tours where he drove out the canons for disloyalty. After his death in 1199 John was acknowledged The road to Fontevrault for a little king by the royal household at Chinon. while after leaving Chinon lies straight to Having scandalized the barons by putting the south, then it turns sharply and winds away his first wife, he married Isabel of through apple-orchards and walnut-trees Angoulême, and spent the following sum- till it reaches the river bank. At Candes, mer at Chinon with her and Berengaria, where St. Martin died, it was a great surthe widow of Richard. The castle was prise to English visitors to catch a first taken by the French after a long and des- glimpse of the sculptured saints and battleperate siege on Midsummer eve, 1205. mented roofs of the church through an A century later Jacques Molay, grand opening of the twisting little village master of the Knights Templars, was ex- street. Begun in the year of Magna amined here by the cardinals before he Charta, and finished towards the end of was led to the stake in Paris. It was in the century, the place is filled with quaint Chinon that Joan of Arc had her first in and grotesque carvings, many of which terview with Charles VII. The English have entirely escaped the hand of the reseemed about to regain their old dominion storer. Fontevrault itself had been turned in France. In 1423, when "wolves were into a vast prison, or reformatory, guarded fighting for the corpses of the dead in the by a regiment. Long files of silent prischurchyard of Paris," churches sacked, oners in dull uniform and round caps, castles burnt down, and lands left untilled, move about where nuns once walked to the States-General met at Chinon to con- and fro; one of the chapels is a storesult with the king about the defence of house for the garrison beer, lines of casks their country. Some years of loss and fill the spaces between the pillars from the trouble followed. In 1428, Tours implored altar to the door. Amid such strange surhelp against the English who were besieg-roundings our great Plantagenets rest in ing Orleans. At last, on Sunday, March a dark little chapel opening out of the right 6, 1429, the Maid of Orleans came to the rescue. The well where she lighted from her horse is still shown at Chinon. Only firm confidence in her patriotic mission
transept. The statue of Henry II. shows him dressed as he was borne out for burial from Chinon. His wife, Eleanor of Guienne, who died here in May, 1204,
holds a book in her hands. Richard I. | the most important fortress of Anjou. rests by the side of his parents. The Great cliffs of stone form the keep. three statues are of colossal size, hewn out Traces of four stories are still visible, of tufa rock, and painted. A smaller with stairs cut in the thick walls. The statue, carved in wood, represents Isabel, place could hold a garrison of twelve hunthe wife of John - the most beautiful and dred men. most wicked woman of the day. The abbey owed its foundation to Robert d'Arbrissel, a famous preacher of the end of the eleventh century. Pope Urban II. directed him to preach in favor of the Crusades, and crowds of people left all to follow the new apostle. He had started for Jerusalem with this strange retinue but was compelled to halt at Fontevrault, and found a community which, under the care of its first abbess, had four houses for learned ladies, penitent women, lepers, and monks. There were soon four thousand inmates. The place was always dear to the Plantagenets. The ladies of their house found shelter here when some dark disaster blotted the sun out of their firmament, and here the great soldiers of their race slept well after the roar of battle.
Twenty-five miles south of Tours lies the great garrison château of Loches. One of the chief features of the flat landscape by which you approach the place is the vast square mass of masonry, the keep of Montbazon, intended as a guard and sentinel for Loches. Every inch of land is cultivated by the industrious French peasants. Suddenly the hill fortress of Loches rises above the plain. "The houses, thrown together along steep and twisted streets, cluster beneath the walls that guard the castle, and the eye rises from the Toure de St. Antoine in the little 'place' beneath towards the donjon keep and the pinnacles of the Collegiate Church." A sharp ascent leads up to the first line of walls. The church is the chief architectural feature of the place. Viollet le Duc says: "In France, exactly on the border line which separates buildings with cupolas from those with none, there is a strange and unique monument in which the influences of Oriental art are blended with the methods of construction adopted in the north at the beginning of the twelfth century. This is the Collegiate Church of Loches; a monument unique in the world, perfect in its kind, and of a savage beauty." It was begun in 1180, and is all broken into points and angles. A fine Romanesque porch leads into the quiet building, which has two white, funnel-like domes opening upward to the roof. Agnes Sorrel's tomb lies in a little chapel in the Tour d'Agnès. The oldest part of the castle shows that it was
The prisons at Loches have witnessed some terrible scenes. The woman who acted as guide bore a small and sputtering lamp, and led the visitors down a narrow, twisting staircase, barred with great doors at every turn. Mr. Cook found it a veritable descent into the infernal regions. Sforza, Duke of Milan, was immured in a cell one hundred steps below ground. Its window gathers what little light can pierce its way through a slit made in fourteen feet of rock. Here for nine years Sforza languished, decorating with inscriptions the walls of his gloomy cell, where "death assailed him, but he could not die." One is thankful that he was moved higher up the tower, and allowed some exercise before his death. Further along the dark passage, and yet deeper under ground, is the Prison of the Bishops. The two ec clesiastics who were entombed there had made a pitiful representation of an altar and a cross, and each in turn had climbed up the wall to the window in order to catch a glimpse of the daylight. Richelieu kept François de Rochechouart at Loches for two years without any positive proof of conspiracy against him, but nothing would induce this brave man to divulge his secret. He was ordered for execution, and not reprieved till the last moment in order to shake his resolution, but he still maintained heroic silence.
We are thankful to close the pages which contain these gruesome stories. The next journey may be to Langeais. That village has "one good main street, from which numberless little alleys open out, lined by tiny cottages, and ending in a strip of green or garden ground." Two vast round towers rise at the end of this street. This is the fortress-château of Langeais, the finest existing example of a French castle built about the middle of the fifteenth century. Lady Dilke points out in her "Renaissance of Art in France" that the problem before the architect was how to blend the necessities of defence with the already increasing demands of domestic life. As a fortress it is certainly not up to date. Elaborate precautions against scaling-ladders have been taken, but gunpowder is quite forgotten. "One gate only affords access to the interior court, and that gate is flanked by massive towers, and protected by a port