Saturday 21 September 2013

King Louis IX, a life in glass

A good turnout despite the weather
Last weekend was the annual 'journées du patrimoine' held throughout Europe on the third weekend in September. Although the weather was rotten on Saturday -- lowering grey clouds and rain -- we decided to go out anyway. In fact it was so miserable we comiserated with the lady who sold us the tickets. She looked at the sky, turned to us and said "je suis faché!" [I'm cross; ie with the weather] an understandable sentiment!

We'd known about the stained glass at Champigny-sur-Veude near Richelieu for quite some time, but had never got around to seeing it; mainly because of its opening times which don't work so well for us. Last weekend it was open all day and you could choose whether or not you visited the chateau and/or the chapel. We opted to just visit the chapel and the glass did not disappoint. We took lots of photos so undoubtedly more will follow in another post.

Built by Louis 1ere de Bourbon on his return from the Italian Wars of the early 16th century, the chapel is very much in the style of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, but with Italian influences.

Windows are high up and more than 8m tall
The 11 large Renaissance windows are stunning, even on a gloomy day the jewel-like colours shine through. Happily at the time of the French Revolution they were taken out and hidden and so avoided destruction.
Coronation of Louis IX, aged 12 at Reims
Honouring an illustrious ancestor of the Bourbons, the 11 windows depict the life of King Louis IX [1214 -1270]; or 'le roi Saint Louis' as he is known in France. They trace his life from his coronation in Reims at the age of 12, until his death in Tunis. Louis IX was known for his piety, intregrity and worked for the political unification of France. He managed to get Henry III of England to agree to the renunciation of all claims to Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and Poitou [Treaty of Paris, 1259] by yielding Limoge, Cahors, and Perigeux to England. He built the original Sainte-Chapelle and went on Crusade twice; both were failures.
Defeat at the battle of Mansurah 1250
On his first crusade [7th Crusade 1248-50] he was defeated at the battle of Mansurah in Egypt [1250] and taken captive. After a huge ransom and the handing back of the port Damietta he was released. He then had some success in Outremer where he spent 4 years visitng what holy places he could and exercising a little diplomacy before he returned to France.
Dying in Tunis, 1270
The second time he went on crusade [8th Crusade 1270] he died soon after making landfall in Tunis, falling victim to the sickness [probably typhoid] which decimated his troops. He was cannonised in 1297.


Apologies for the recent intermittent posting but mundania - in the form of the start to the academic year has meant it's been busy, busy, busy! Things should settle down soon and more regular posts will resume.


The Broad said...

The windows are just stunning. It always amazes me how wonderful these places are and astounds me how many wonderful buildings there are to see in France. Many thanks for the history lesson, too. I find French history very interesting, but I also find it difficult to keep it all straight in my head :-(

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - they really are and these photos on a grey day don't really do them justice. We'll go back.

All the kings called Louis don't help! :-)

Susan said...

I'm glad you got to see it. It was on my list, but in the end I was just too busy and we didn't visit anywhere.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - we nearly didn't bother because of the weather; but we're glad we made the effort.

Definitely worth going back some time.

ladybird said...

At last! For years I've tried to catch a glimpse of the windows. But as you said, the opening times are a bit tricky if you're not living nearby or just passing through. Thanks for posting the photos. Looking forward for more! Martine

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - you're welcome. There will indeed be more to follow.

the fly in the web said...

I'm glad you made it at last...not the easiest place to which to gain access.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - no it isn't and that's a shame really as it is a lovely place.

Perpetua said...

A fascinating post and that glass is truly wonderful. I thought immediately of the Sainte-Chapelle. It's just a shame the sun wasn't shining for you. A good reason for a return visit on a sunny day. :-)

chm said...

Until today I'd never heard of Champigny-sur-Veude, its château and Sainte-Chapelle. Thank you for this. I agree with you, the windows are absolutely beautiful. Looking forward to more photos of them. Glad the "vitraux" were saved at the Revolution.

People living in glass houses... I think you meant Damietta!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - we certainly will! :-)
All good things for the 24th.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@CHM - LOL! Absolutely. I'm slightly dyslexic [A] so thanks for noting it - now corrected