Recognize the Church of St.-Nicholas
The Church of St.-Nicholas sits in the valley leading to the Loire. We did not walk down and visit, but it makes a nice picture from the viewpoint near the Tour de Foix. It is a 12C church of a Benedictine Abbey of that period.
Château Royal de Blois: Royal Badges, Part II
“Every inch of this structure, of its balconies, its pillars, its great central columns, is wrought over with lovely images, strange and ingenious devices, prime among which is the great heraldic salamander of Francis I. The salamander is everywhere at Blois, over the chimneys, over the doors, on the walls.”
— from “A Little Tour In France” 1886 by Henry James
François I used the well-known device of the salamander, surrounded by flames, with the motto, Nutriseo et extinguo, “I nourish and extinguish” alluding to the belief popular in the Middle Ages that the salamander had the faculty of living in fire, and, according to Pliny, of extinguishing it. He says, “He is of so cold a complexion, that if he does but touch the fire, he will quench it as persuasively as if ice were put into it.”
The word salamander is Persian: sam, meaning fire, and andarun, meaning within. Many salamanders live inside rotting logs. When the log was placed into a fire, the salamander would attempt to escape, leading to the belief that salamanders were created from flames — thus the creature’s name.
Nudrisco il buono e spengo il reo (“I nourish the good and extinguish the bad.”), this motto appears on a medal of François, when he was Comte d’Angouleme, dated 1512. Its meaning is that a good prince protects the good and expels the evil. Some have said that it was the motto of François’s father; while others say that it was his tutor, Gouffier, Marquis de Boisy, who selected the salamander as his young student’s device, with its appropriate motto. De Boisy saw the restless spirit of his pupil, not unmixed with good and useful qualities, would be well represented by the salamander.
This salamander badge appears at all the royal châteaux that François built. At Fontainebleau and the chateaux along the Loire Valley, it is everywhere to be seen; at Chambord, there are nearly four thousand salamanders! Coupled with the salamanders elaborate ‘F’s often appear (see photo #4).
When the French king met Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, François’s guard at the tournament was clothed in blue and yellow, with the salamander embroidered on them.
Hotel de Ville
- city hall
constructed: 1700, as the bishop’s palace
architect: Jacques Gabriel (1667-1742)
current use: city hall, since 1940 when the former city hall was destroyed during WWII
location: Place Saint Louis
* Blois, population: 48,000
"Chateau de Blois"
- castle, royal residence of Louis XII (1462-1515), François I (1494-1547), Henri III (1551-89) & Henri IV (1553-1610), whose widow, Marie de Medicis (1575-1642), was imprisoned in the chateau 1617-1619.
constructed: 13th-17th centuries
"Rue Rebrousse Penil"
- perhaps once a more notorious street