Tag Archives: Joan of Arc

Entrance Tickets – Château de Pierrefonds

Pierrefonds Castle

Finding a castle to visit is not difficult in France because, according to the Official Tourist Board, there are almost five-thousand but it seems to me to includes a lot of questionable small Chateaux in that number. For comparison there are eight hundred in the United Kingdom and just about two thousand five hundred in Spain.

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Napoleon Bonaparte, Three Ways and Twenty Separate Parts

Napoleon 1

When I was a boy, about ten or so, I used to like to make Airfix model kits.

The little models were mainly heroes from English history but curiously there was a figure of Napoleon included in the range and it was always one of my favourites, probably because he was one of the easiest to put together and to paint.  It is an odd thing but I think that Airfix kit of Napoleon Bonaparte began my interest in French history and why I went on to study the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire at University.

Napoleon Airfix

Other figures in the range were the Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry V, Henry VIII and Charles I and to balance things up there was the regicide Oliver Cromwell.

Napoleon was there but not Hitler or Stalin and alongside him representing France was Joan of Arc.

For some reason Julius Caesar who once invaded England was included but not William The Conqueror.

Airfix Figures

Who was your favourite Airfix figure?

France, Cinderella and Joan of Arc

Pierrefonds Castle Postcard

“This enchanting landmark is an architectural blend of many European styles, from 13th Century French Fortress to late Renaissance Palace.  Since it was inspired by no single structure, Cinderella Castle represents them all” – Disney Official Souvenir Book

Finding a castle to visit is not difficult in France because, according to the Official Tourist Board, there are almost five-thousand but it seems to me to includes a lot of questionable  small Chateaux in that number. For comparison there are eight hundred in the United Kingdom and just about two thousand five hundred in Spain.

In the 1960s, so the story goes, Disney ‘imagineers’ travelled throughout Europe looking for the perfect castles on which to model Cinderella’s Castle in Walt Disney World.

Cinderella's Castle Walt Disney World Florida

The lead architect for the project was a man called Herbert Rymanand and what makes this story a bit of a mystery is that there is no documentary evidence to establish exactly which castles he visited and indeed which of them became the inspiration for the Disney Magic Kingdom centrepiece.  Disney themselves do no more than confirm that Cinderella Castle was ‘inspired by the great castles of Europe’, but they never explicitly say which one.

Pierrefonds France Picardy

I mention this because today I was planning a visit to the nearby town of Pierrefonds which is famous for its castle.  Actually that is just about all that it is famous for and without the castle I doubt that very many people would take the detour to go there.

The castle itself is rather magnificent, statuesque and grand, stout walls and conical turrets and if the Disney architects had stopped by Pierrefonds on their fact finding tour of Europe then I suggest that they would have gone no further in their search for inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle.

Pierrefonds

After Pierrefonds we continued to nearby Compiègne which turned out to be another attractive but rather unremarkable town but my reason for visiting was to see just one thing.  A statue of Joan of Arc.  There are statues of the Maid of Orleans all over France but I especially wanted to see this one because it has some special significance.

A bit of background: Joan was born in about 1412 into a relatively well-off peasant family in Donrémy in northern France somewhere near the border of Lorraine.  At this time English troops were running riot through France and at one point raided and plundered the village of Donrémy and the d’Arc family had to flee into exile.  During this time Joan convinced herself that she had a visitation of saints and angels and heard patriotic voices that told her that she was chosen by God to save France.  Joan kept hearing the voices for a further three years and when she was finally convinced she left home and presented herself to the authorities as the saviour of France with a mission to put the Dauphin on his rightful throne.

L'hôtel de ville de Compiègne et la statue de Jeanne d'Arc (Oise, France).

Word of Joan quickly spread and it was claimed that she was the embodiment of a prophecy made by a mystic called Marie d’Avignon, that a ‘virgin girl from the borders of Lorraine’ would come to save France.  To test whether Joan was genuine the Dauphin had her questioned by a committee of clergymen and asked a group of respectable ladies to test her virginity.

She passed both tests and with religious sincerity and sexual inexperience being considered more suitable qualifications than an education at an appropriate military academy she was given a suit of made (maid?) to measure white armour and an army of forty thousand men and sent to fight the English at Orléans.

joan_arc-capture

Joan rejected the cautious strategy that had characterized French leadership and attacked and captured the outlying fortress of Saint Loup, which she followed the next day with a march to a second fortress called Saint Jean le Blanc, which was found deserted.  The next day with the aid of only one captain she rode out of the city and captured the fortress of Saint Augustins and two days later attacked the main English stronghold and secured a stunning victory that took everyone by surprise.

After that there was a seemingly endless run of French victories as the English and their Bugundian allies fled from the field of battle whenever challenged by the invincible Maid of Orléans fighting, it seemed, with God by her side.

From here however things started to go wrong for Joan and she was betrayed by the King, Charles VII, who was beginning to find here her to be a bit of a nuisance and to get her out of the way he dispatched her on a hopeless mission to fight a Burgundian army right here at (which brings me conveniently back to) Compiègne, where she was defeated by a much stronger army, captured and taken prisoner and so began her sad journey towards the bonfire.

You can read my story of Joan of Arc right here.

I found the statue and with nothing else to detain me in Compiègne I headed back to the campsite at Vic-Sur-Aisne.

Vic Sur Aisne Picardy France0

It’s Nice To Feel Useful (5)

  

It’s nice to feel useful (5) …

Every so often I like to take a look at the search engine terms that may or may not have directed people towards some of my posts.  Some of them are just so funny and so here are ten more recent ones:

Joan of Arc getting burned at the stake clean images”.  Now, I guess that burning at the stake would have been a fairly messy business with all of that smoke and ash and burning embers rising up into the sky, not to mention the spitting fat as the flesh melted in the flames so I imagine that even if there were cameras in medieval France that the chances of getting a ‘clean’ image would have been rather difficult.

I wrote a post about Joan of Arc so perhaps that is where the enquirer was directed?

Next, I have three searches about bridges.  The first one is just too specific for me to be able to help but I did write a post about this bridge after a visit to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2008 – how much space is between the beams on the stari most bridge?”.  Second, this one from an enquirer whose stupidity is just immense –what is a bridge?” and finally this one which is almost equally as dumb – why was the Humber bridge being built?”doh! Why did the chicken cross the road?

Hull Humber Bridge

Actually the  2,220 metre Humber Suspension Bridge is the fifth largest of its type in the World.  This is a very big bridge indeed but the statistic used to be even more impressive because when it was first opened in 1981 it was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the World, a record that it held for the next sixteen years.

Leading on from the Humber Bridge my next favourite is –Anne Frank connection with hull?” because as far as I can make out there is none other than the Hull to Rotterdam P&O ferry.

I have posted a few times about travelling in Italy and the inevitability of a statue of the Italian hero of unification Giuseppe Garibaldi and although everyone knows that he has a biscuit named after him I was surprised to come across this search term – which Italian town has a biscuit named after it?”  Maybe the enquirer turned up at my post about Garbaldi when they were really looking for Genoese cake?

Giuseppe Garibaldi Molfetta Puglia Italy

Sex almost always rears its ugly head of course and large Norwegian penis in a jar” is my offering  in this collection of search out-takes.  I am not an expert on Norwegian penises, large or small, but I did visit the Penis Museum in Reykjavik and this is probably close enough to have recorded the visit to the blog.

Icelandic Penis Museum Reykjavik

This next search may or may not have anything to do with sex, I’ll leave readers to reach their own conclusions – car park in Ciudad Rodrigo”.  I have visited and stayed in Ciudad Rodrigo but I give you my word that I absolutely did not hang around in town centre car parks!

For this selection of search terms I have save my favourite until last and this is it – things to do in Tossa de Marr Spain for clairvoyants”. Now, call me a sceptic if you like but if you can see into the future what on earth does a clairvoyant need with a website of advertised events – why don’t they just look in their crystal ball?

I have been to Tossa de Mar and I have to say that palm reader, soothsayer or clairvoyant that it is a very fine place to visit.

Tossa de Mar Costa Brava Postcard