Éminence Rouge

The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Friday, 14 October 2016

the full titles of the cardinal duc in 1642

Armand Jean

Le tres-haut tres-puiffant Seigneur Iean Armand du Plefsis, Duc de Richelieu, & de Fronfac, Pair de France, General des Galeres, Lieutenant General pour le Roy és Mers & Armées du Leuant. Gouuerneur & Lieutenant general pour fa Majefté de la Ville & Citadelle du Havre de Grace, Vicomté d'Harfleur & Montiuiliers. Prince de Mortaigne, Marquis de Grauile, Baron de Barbezieux, Saugeon, la Ferté Bernard, & autres Lieux. 

Le Havre 76600 - Channel sea port close to Harfleur
Harfleur 76700 - Old town next to Le Havre
Montivilliers 76290 - a suburb of Le Havre
Barbezieux 16300 - near Angoulême
Saugeons 37530 - near Amboise
La Ferté Bernard 72400 - near Le Mans


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

the 2016 Greetings Card

Following the huge success of last year's greetings card, which saw €2000 being donated to the restoration of Tour St Anne, Alan Halliday has very kindly donated another image for this year's card.

The cards will be available from the end of October, priced €30 for 20 cards. 

Please email alikimberbates@icloud.com to place an order.

the 2016 greeting card

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Maniere de Bien Bastir pour Toutes Sortes de Personnes - Pierre Le Muet -1623

This book of building construction was first published in 1623, a decade before the completion of the cité idéale of Richelieu. 

Maniere de bien bastir pour toutes sortes de personnes
was written by the architect and engraver 
click on his name for more biographic details!
Some  say that the hôtels particuliers of the Grande Rue of Richelieu were constructed to the principles and designs in this book
to a standard design required by the cardinal duc.
Each cost 10,000 livres tournois.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Dying slaves

the Dying Slave blushes
 The Montmorency family became involved in one of the conspiracies against the régime of the cardinal duc led by the king's brother Gaston d'Orleans.  Henri II de Montmorency, Marshall of France and scion of the family, was a proven conspirator who finally went to the scaffold on the orders of Armand-Jean and Louis XIII; Richelieu had survived the plot!

In order to protect other members of the old aristocratic family, the surviving Montmorencys decided to make a peace offering to the all powerful cardinal duc on the understanding that the executions and retributions would cease with this single awful walk to the scaffold.  They knew well that the cardinal liked a good statue as he had bought many, both ancient and contemporary, to decorate his new château in Poictou. As they had sometime previously acquired the two 'Dying Slaves', famous 1513 sculptures by Michelangelo Buonarroti, they hoped that they could appease Richelieu by offering them to him as a gift.  The great man accepted them gracefully and placed the pair on the façade on his new castle, one on each side of his Grand Stair's block at first floor level.

Visitors might be reminded of their host's power and glory as they approached an audience with the First Minster of France.

Beauty and Threat in a single gesture...

In the Dôme in the Parc de Richelieu is a plaster cast of one of these famous statues; the original now re-located (after the Revolution) to the Louvre.

back to normal
Henri II de Montmorency
Origin of the slave statues
"The slaves were designed as part of the initial project for the Pope's tomb (in 1505), and Michelangelo began to carve them in 1513 when a second project was developed. A fourth, less grandiose project, elaborated after the pope's death, saw them rejected for financial reasons. Julius II, who had dreamed of a freestanding mausoleum at Saint Peter's in Rome, was buried in San Pietro in Vincoli in a wall tomb, albeit one adorned with Michelangelo's famous Moses (a contemporary of the Slaves). Despite being unfinished, the two great marbles were already admired. Michelangelo donated them to the Florentine exile Roberto Strozzi, who presented them to the French king.
The Slaves thus reached France during the sculptor's lifetime, and first occupied two niches at the Château d'Ecouen (constructed by the constable, Anne de Montmorency) before Cardinal de Richelieu took them to his new château in Poitou. The two Slaves had originally been intended to feature on the pope's tomb alongside similar figures, including the four marble Slaves in the Academy of Florence, carved (and also left incomplete) in 1531–32."

in the Louvre


Friday, 30 September 2016

The former Demi-Lune at the head of the castle's gardens in 1660

Now sadly without sculptures or exhibits
Engravings byJean Marot of the original design
'Le Magnifiqve Chasteav de Richeliev'


to inspire Mesdames S****, duT*** et B*******


Monday, 26 September 2016

A panorama of the parc de Richelieu from the old wine cellars

Looking north-west,towards the site of the former château that was demolished in the 1840s...

click on the image for the full panorama
the same view from the same place by the engraver Jean Marot - 1660


Friday, 16 September 2016

The colour palette of Richelieu's houses...

a house near the place du Marché

a side door to the church in ochre paint

the tuffeau masonry of the fausse porte

a house from the early 19th century

Monday, 12 September 2016

A new notary for the town

The town's notaire - notary - has just retired and been substituted by a charming new successor in the role
Bénédicte Chabaneix.

Pierre Gravel was also the Mayor of the town, immediately before the current office holder, 
Hervé Novelli.
Many new Richelais and Richelaises got to know the cité idéale while in Pierre's hands,
as they negotiated and finally bought properties.

Good luck Bénédicte,
 from the old Abbé Henri Proust.


Monday, 29 August 2016

Railway demolitions for the new 'Voie Verte' - green pathway - between Richelieu and Chinon

a huge pile of old sleepers

former railway line rails

the engine shed, shed of its tracks

the empty locomotive shed

the last remaining item, a double-decker carriage

the station and demolitions underway

la gare

a new business is in preparation
cycle rentals


Thursday, 25 August 2016

The new roundabout at the northern Porte de Chinon

A new roundabout has appeared at the northern gate to the town, the Porte de Chinon. This reinforces the original 17th century layout of the gate composition, based as it is on a circular layout of rotation.

While the by-pass remains incomplete in its north western sector, all the passing traffic, including frequent euro-artic-trucks, have to navigate this poem of French civic traffic engineering.  It seems odd that there is always money for endless traffic engineering of doubtful purpose, while the old stones of the town languish in dereliction. Don't we all love our cars!

It seems to the old Abbé Henri Proust that the Lemercier brothers would have added a central obelisk, in the manner of seventeenth century Roma, as a confirmation of the centrality of the layout and a reminder of more celestial ambitions for the cité idéale

the Chinon gate closed for the construction period

the bridge out of town with new cobbles

the new roundabout

doesn't this need a central obelisk?

the axis of the parc de quinconce

kooking south at the porte de Chinon

the new circular footpath


Monday, 22 August 2016

Raise the red lanterns...

The Chinese Film Festival at the Cinema Majestic that took place towards the end of August 2016 saw the appearance of a contrasting and faintly bizarre conjunction of cultures. 17th century France suddenly sporting red Chinese lanterns. The twinning of the town of Richelieu with that of Wuzhen in the PRC gives this a piquant relevance, as do the young visitors who recently came from South Korea, as symbolised by the national flag in the second picture below.

The poster for the film festival features the graceful face of the actress Gong Li who is the heorine of the film Raise the Red Lantern that tells the melancholy role of humble womenfolk in ancient warlord China.



The town hall decked out


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A few friends came round to dinner....

The annual Nocturne Gourmande took place on the Friday 5th August 2016. As you can see from the video below, it was a vibrant success, with many, many visitors. The market square has many purposes but this event turned the square into a giant public theatre. Both the LeMercier boys, designers of the square and the town itself in 1630, with their eminent client, the Cardinal Duke, would have been thrilled.