The Tomb of the Beautiful Agnes Sorel
Favorite thing: The part of the Chateau built by Charles VII mostly housed his young mistress Agnes Sorel, a beauty and the first openly acknowledged consort of her type. She spent most of her time here to avoid the irritation of the Dauphin (to become Louis XI). Agnes (note that Agnus=lamb in Latin) died suddenly at age 28 in 1450 and of course poisoning was immediately suspected. This allowed haters of Jacques Coeur (See our Bourges Tips on him) to convince the wimpish king that he did it with disastrous consequences to Jacques. The King had a beautiful tomb created for Agnes which was only installed in the church of St.-Ours after threatening the monks with expropriations if they did not agree. During the Revolution, the beautiful effigy was taken for a female saint and extensively damaged. It has been restored. It is now in a special room in the older part of the castle (See Our Tip). Her fine face is said to be from her death-mask. Note the lambs at her feet. She was indeed a beauty as her paintings also attest. We have never seen anyone else adopt her iconic pose.
Fondest memory: Visions of a beautiful woman.
- Family Travel
The Domes of St.-Ours (Fire Prevention)
Favorite thing: There was a rise in religiosity as 1000 AD approached and the end of the world was expected. When this did not occur, the wave continued leading to much church building. in the 11C. But flat wooden roofs lead to devastating fires and stone barrel-vaulted naves felt cramped and dark reminding some of the catacombs. Architects could not find a new solution. In Venice and Palermo (ca 1050) San Marco and San Cataldo (See our Palermo Tips) used the Byzantine brought long ago from Rome of setting stone domes over square spaces. Size was limited but both here in the late 12C and a few years earlier at Fontevrault Abbey (See our Tips) domes were used as vaulting of the naves. These are octagonal in shape. Two were needed and another flatter one provided an undercover for the transept crossing tower (in the picture). This trend was not further adopted because the Gothic age was just born and the pointed arch and flying buttresses solved the vaulting problem.
Fondest memory: The unusual octagonal structure of the domes
- Family Travel