Sunday 23 February 2014

Our local colombier

Our village also has a colombier. Now part of a farm, appropriately called 'Le Colombier', it lies at the end of one of the little chemins which run up the small valleys just outside the bourg.
Last vestiges of the mediaeval donjon
The colombier in Charnizay would once have belonged to the original mediaeval castle. Now all that remains of that is a semi-derelict donjon, much altered. In its last incarnation it served as a 'ferme fort'. However, plans are afoot to see if the donjon could be brought back to life  --sometime in the future-- as it forms part of the greater complex of buildings which includes our new Salle de Spectacles.
Charnizay's colombier
Charnizay's colombier is a relatively modest affair. It has about 450 niches. Simply constructed as a small square tower it had a drive-through double doorway. This allowed the horse and cart to enter on one side. The pigeon droppings could then be easily swept out of the niches directly into the cart before it was driven out the other side.  Keeping the pigeons was not only a matter for having a handy food source, their droppings provided valuable fertilizer for the fields.

The pigeons are long gone, the current inhabitant is a barn owl
The current owners of Le Colombier farm goats and run a lovely eco-friendly gite; you can find out more if you like here on the Gites de France website. They undertook some restoration work of the colombier and opened up one of the doorways which had been closed up by a previous owner. While this work was being done they found a stone which commemorates the completion of the dovecot. Their house is dated to the same year.

Inscription recording the completion of the colombier
The date, 1539, is significant in French history. In the same year Francois Ier signed the
Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts. This piece of legislation, specifically articles 110 & 111,  played a significant role in the move towards a linguistic and ideological unification of France. 
Nous voullons et ordonnons qu’ilz soient faictz et escrits si clerement qu’il n’y ait ne puisse avoir aucune ambiguïté ou incertitude, ni lieu à en demander interpretacion.
 Et pour ce que telles choses sont souventesfoys advenues sur l'intelligence des motz latins contenuz esdictz arretz, Nous voulons que doresenavant tous arretz ensemble toutes autres procedeures, soyent de nous cours souveraines ou aultres subalternes et inferieures, soyent de registres, enquestes, contractz, commissions, sentences, testamens et aultres quelzconques actes et exploictz de justice ou qui en dependent, soient prononcez, enregistrez et delivrez aux parties en langage maternel francoys et non autrement.

Above: the two relevant articles in Old French

The clauses required that French was used in all official documents, replacing Latin. [Although Latin did continue to be used to some degree in Catholic church registers]. The knock-on effect was that the articles also impacted on the other languages and dialects spoken in many regions of France and thus played a role in the linguistic unification.


the fly in the web said...

I think I remember you mentioning plans to find a way to bring the donjon back to life....perhaps for imprisoning a few national politicians?

Susan said...

What a terrific piece of local history that grafitti is!

GaynorB said...

Blogger is playing tricks with me again as your previous post and super bird pics didn't come through to be noticed until today's post came onto my sidebar. Peculiar.
Interesting post. I'll look out for the colombier when we next drive past... in just 47 days! :o)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - very much a future project probably so sadly not possible in the short term.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - Very much so! They were lucky to find it.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - The chemin dead-ends at Le Colombier but the track alongside is part of one of the longer St Martin of Tours routes that thread the area.
You can walk to the forest of Ribaloche if you carry on south. Maybe a nice walk for you two?

Tim said...

What beautiful script in that graffiti! Not just literate but elegant. P.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Pauline - it is beautiful isn't it with its lovely elongated 'f's

Jean said...

A fascinating post, and to think that to most people it's just another farm building.
The writing is indeed beautiful and most unexpected on an agricultural building. I wonder who actually engraved the words in the stone as I imagine that most people would not be able to write at all then, let alone in such an elegant hand.

Perpetua said...

You two are so surrounded by history, even if it's a little faded nowadays. I love the inscription and also enjoyed the fact that I could read the Old French without too much difficulty, testament to how many of the words are solidly embedded in English. :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - I suspect the mason or perhaps someone from the chateau. The stone is soft so easily carved.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - indeed they are a legion :-)