26 June 2010
Another spot I was able to visit was the city of Carcassonne. It's a fortified french town just near the border between Spain and France. First signs of settlement in this region have been dated to about 3500 BC, but the hill site of Carsac – a Celtic place-name that has been retained at other sites in the south – became an important trading place in the 6th century BC. Carcassonne's defenses were strengthened by successive owners. In the 5th century, the Visigoth's extended the Roman defenses and for many years after Carcassonne Castle proved impenetrable to invaders.
Carcassonne France came under control of the French crown in 1247. King Louis IX (St. Louis) and his successor Philip III further strengthened the fortifications of Carcassonne Castle and built the "new town" outside the defenses. English troops laid siege to the city during the Hundred Years War, but once again in Carcassonne history, the fortifications proved impenetrable. For the next several centuries of Carcassonne history, the fortified walls were allowed to fall into disrepair. In the mid-19th century, the French government proposed demolishing the walls. A popular uproar saved Carcassonne Castle and the architect and historian Eugene Viollet-le-Duc was commissioned to restore the medieval fortifications. (Viollet-le-Duc also restored the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.)
To say I was flabbergasted is a bit of and understatement. The place is amazing! True enough, there are some obviously newer parts to the building and shops located inside the walls, but it's fabrication is done with historical preciseness, you can almost imagine what it was like in the 13th century... minus the leprosy, rotting meats, and lack of modern plumbing.
Boni Ashburn's two books, Hush, Little Dragon and Over At The Castle were heavily inspired by cities like this!!
17 June 2010
While I was visiting Beaune, France I went to the Hôtel-Dieu. The Hôtel-Dieu was founded on 4 August 1443, when Burgundy was ruled by Duke Philip the Good. The Hundred Years War had recently been brought to a close by the signing of the Treaty of Arras in 1435. Massacres, however, continued with marauding bands ("écorcheurs") still roaming the countryside, pillaging and destroying, provoking misery and famine. The majority of the people of Beaune were declared destitute.
Nicolas Rolin, the Duke's Chancellor, and his wife Guigone de Salins, reacted by deciding to create a hospital and refuge for the poor. The Hospices de Beaune received the first patient on 1 January 1452. Elderly, disabled and sick people, with orphans, women about to give birth and the destitute have all been uninterruptedly welcomed for treatment and refuge, from the Middle Ages until today.
Over the centuries, the hospital radiated outwards, grouping with similar establishments in the surrounding villages of Pommard, Nolay, Meursault. Many donations - farms, property, woods, works of art and of course vineyards - were made to it, by grateful families and generous benefactors. The institution is one of the best and oldest example of historical, philanthropic, and wine-producing heritage, and has become linked with the economic and cultural life of Burgundy.
Wow, NO COMMENT on the current state of the U.S. Healthcare system!
Anyways, it was very fun because it tied into one of my projects. I am to design a cover involving an alchemist mixing powders. A visit to the Hôtel-Dieu's pharamacie was amazingly handy!
06 June 2010
I've been puttering along on a an assortment of projects, whilst I've moved the studio to France for a month. Sounds fun, which it is... but also limiting. I finagled my way to be working on only black and white projects, since I've had difficulty finding the right aerosols and turps to work on my oils over here. So, hopefully, I can keep posting a few of the things that have crossed the ol' desk, but I think it is time to show some good ol' fashioned photos!