Monday, 27 May 2013

Harry and Frank

One of the places we drove past on our way home was Camp du Drap d'Or (Field of Cloth of Gold). We didn't stop to look, but we remembered this was the meeting place of King Henry the VIIIth of England and King Francois I of France in June 1520.  Before this last trip to France I could have told you about Henry, but I wouldn't have been able to name Francois.

I think I'll remember the F-name now, having been to Fontainebleau, but of course that F is also for Francois.  

My foreign language experience in grade school was Spanish (taught by a lady on the TV) and so Spanish pronunciation comes more naturally. Trying to speak French is embarrassing, but any effort is well rewarded, so I give it a go.  

I was always in doubt about that last syllable in Fontainebleau and stumbled between blur and blue, but in fact it's blow; fon' ten blow, just in case you need to know.

The Royal Elephant is about wisdom and virtue.

It's hard to show you Fontainebleau (the portion that we saw, anyhow) without a squillion photos because it is such a jaw-dropping place.  

Under a chandelier...


I thought I would first write some of the stories I remember and about research I've done since. Just so I'll have some words to go with the pictures, you understand.   I know I've jumped into the middle, not starting at the front door and all, but we'll probably get there eventually.

Definitely a room with a view.


So anyhow, we're talking about two men who made big decisions.  Henry the VIIIth had the nerve to tell the Pope to push off and to start his own religion.  He had a problem to solve, getting a male heir.  He was prepared to take drastic steps to achieve that, though personally I think his younger daughter, Elizabeth I, was his highest accomplishment.   

Henry and Francois were allies in the Italian Wars against the Holy Roman Empire.  Francois's country was surrounded by territories under the control of his enemy, Charles V, so he formed an allegiance with  the Islamic ruler of the Ottoman Empire, an unusual decision for a Christian king.

Francois is known as having supported the development of a standardized French language . He initiated the French Renaissance, inviting Italian artists to help decorate his Palace at Fontainebleau.  He is also known for his big nose.

These photos are from the gallery named for him. I love history, architecture and decorative arts, but Renaissance paintings do not push my buttons. Instead of the paintings I appreciated the parquet floors, the huge windows, graceful chandeliers and the wood carvings.  Also, I remember reading about the advent of galleries in a book on medieval architecture.  I can highly recommend Castle:  A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain, by Marc Morris. These long hall ways were popular in fine houses not just because they provided a space to show off one's art.  The windows let in light in a time before electricity and a gallery can also provide a hallway to link rooms.   This particular gallery goes links the monastery and the royal apartments.

Lately I learned that a gallery was also a popular place for having private conversations.  The long narrow shape allowed one to be more certain than in any other room that there were no eavesdroppers around.  

If I could figure out how to stick a gallery on this house I'd certainly do so, not for art (as if) or to gossip, but for the gorgeous tall windows.

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