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Photography by Amber Maitrejean
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  • The Île de la Cité in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry,circa 1410. The scene takes place on the River Seine, in a field at the location of the Hotel de Nesle, Paris home of the Duke of Berry. On the other side of the river stretches the entire length of the City Palace, with successively king’s garden, the room on the water, the three towers Bonbec, Silver and Caesar, then turn the Clock. Behind the Galerie Saint-Louis in the center, the two pinions of the Great Hall, the Home of the king and the rook Montgomery. Right, the Sainte-Chapelle.

    The Craenenburg House in Markt Square once served as a prison for Archduke Maiximiliaan of Austria. He was captured in 1488 by townspeople, angry about high taxes and held at Craenenburg for four months. After witnessing the execution of Pieter Lanchals, his loyal servant and counselor, the Archduke gave in to the rebel’s demands.

    Margaret of York would stay at Craenenburg House and watch tournaments and the festivities in the square below.

    Craenenburg House, Bruges, Belgium. Photo by Amber Maitrejean

    Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet 1627-1704, court preacher to Louis XIV, tutor to his son the Grand Dauphin from 1670-1681 and Bishop of Meaux from 1681-1704.

    19th century statue of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet 1627-1704, court preacher to Louis XIV, tutor to his son the Grand Dauphin from 1670-1681 and Bishop of Meaux from 1681-1704. St. Etienne Cathedral, Meaux, France. Photo by Amber Maitrejean

    Tomb of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet 1627-1704, court preacher to Louis XIV, tutor to his son the Grand Dauphin from 1670-1681 and Bishop of Meaux from 1681-1704. St. Etienne Cathedral, Meaux, France. Photo by Amber Maitrejean

    Louise de Lorraine (1553-1601) queen consort of France from 1575 -1589, wife of Henry III of France.

    Alexandre Lenoir by Marie Genevieve Bouliard.

    Alexandre Lenoir (27 December 1761, Paris – 11 June 1839) was a French archaeologist. Self-taught and devoted to saving France’s historic monuments, sculptures and tombs from the ravages of the French Revolution, notably those of Saint-Denis and Sainte-Geneviève.

    On 1 August 1793, the National Convention decreed that the tombs of “former kings” should be destroyed. Alexandre Lenoir witnessed the destruction of the royal tombs, with the bones thrown into a ditch. He struggled against revolutionary vandalism and managed to save statues and loot which he stored at the couvent des Petits-Augustins.

    In 1795, he opened the Musée des monuments français to the public — he was its administrator for 30 years.

    Alexandre Lenoir opposing the destruction of the royal necroplois in the Basilica of Saint Denis during the Reign of Terror, 1793. Painting by Pierre Joseph Lafontaine.

    The Execution of Brunehilde de Casibus. Workshop of Maitre FrancoisParis, circa 1475.

    A bitter feud between queen Frédégonde and Brunehilde lasted for more than 40 years. Although she did not live to see it, Frédégonde’s son, Clotaire, carried out the exectution of Brunhilda which bore the mark of Fredegund’s hatred. Clotaire accused Brunhilda of the death of ten kings of the Franks. The identity of the ten kings comes from the Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar. It is usually said to include Sigebert I, Chilperic I, Theudebert II, Theuderic II, Sigebert II, Merovech (Chilperic’s son), Merovech (Theuderic’s son), Corbo (Theuderic’s son), and Childebert (Theuderic’s son) and the sons of Theudebert; along with many churchmen, including Desiderius. According to the Liber Historiae Francorum:

        “Then the army of the Franks and Burgundians joined into one, all shouted together that death would be most fitting for the very wicked Brunhilda. Then King Clotaire ordered that she be lifted on to a camel and led through the entire army. Then she was tied to the feet of wild horses and torn apart limb from limb. Finally she died. Her final grave was the fire. Her bones were burnt.”

    Frédégonde (545-597) queen of Soissons and wife of Chilperic I. Engraving by Henriette De Witt (née Guizot):Vieilles Histoires de La Patrie. Paris, 1887

    Fredegund has been proposed as one of many sources for the folk tale known as Cinderella. In Cinderella: A Casebook, folklorist Alan Dundes, cites the following excerpt from Gregory’s History of the Franks:

    She was jealous of her own daughter, Rigunth, who continually declared that she should be mistressin her place. Fredegund waited her opportunity and under the pretense of magnanimity took her to the treasure-room and showed her the King’s jewels in a large chest. Feigning fatigue, she exclaimed “I am weary; put thou in thy hand, and take out what thou mayest find.” The mother thereupon forced down the lid on her neck and would have killed her had not the servants finally rushed to her aid.

    Philippe VI de Valois (1293-1350) known as the Fortunate, king of France 1325-1328.

    The Book of Hours by Jean Pucelle 1325-1328, belonging to Jeanne d’Evreux. Metropolitan Museum, New York. Jeanne d’Evreux (1310-1371) queen of France and third wife of Charles IV le Bel.

    Charles IV le Bel (the Beautiful), (1294-1328), king of France and Navarre (as Charles I) and Count of Champagne from 1322 to his death. He was the last French king of the Capetian lineage.

    Fatal jousting tournament between King Henri II and Gabriel Montgomery, Lord of Lorges, artist unknown, 16th century, German print.

    The death of Henri II in a jousting accident is one of the most famous instances of a prophecy fulfilled by Nostradamus. The quatrain was predicted as thus:

    The young lion will overcome the older one,
    On the field of combat in a single battle;
    He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage,
    Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death.
    (Century 1, Quatrain 35)

    In June 1559, King Henri II, unheeded by the dire warnings of Nostradamus, participated in a jousting tournament against the younger Comte de Montgomery, six years his junior and captain of the King’s Scottish Guard. Both men used shields embossed with lions. During the final bout, Montgomery failed to lower his lance in time and it shattered against the king’s helmet, impaling fragments into the king’s face and throat. One large fragment drove through the helmet’s visor destroying the king’s eye and piercing his brain. Another large fragment penetrated his temple lodging just behind the eye. Despite the efforts of royal surgeon Ambroise Paré, Henri lingered for ten agonizing days, ultimately succumbing to death from septicemia on July 10, 1559. The king was buried in a cadaver tomb in Saint Denis Basilica in Paris. Henri’s death was a factor in the end of jousting as a sport.

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