Saturday, April 21, 2012

Orleans


‘21st April, 1644. I went about to view the city, which is well built of stone, on the side of the Loire. About the middle of the river is an island, full of walks and fair trees, with some houses. This is contiguous to the town by a stately stone bridge, reaching to the opposite suburbs, built likewise on the edge of a hill, from whence is a beautiful prospect. At one of the extremes of the bridge are strong towers, and about the middle, on one side, is the statue of the Virgin Mary, or Pieta, with the dead Christ in her lap, as big as the life. At one side of the cross, kneels Charles VII., armed, and at the other Joan d'Arc, armed also like a cavalier, with boots and spurs, her hair disheveled, as the deliveress of the town from our countrymen, when they besieged it. The figures are all cast in copper, with a pedestal full of inscriptions, as well as a fair column joining it, which is all adorned with fleurs-de-lis and a crucifix, with two saints proceeding (as it were) from two branches out of its capital.’

On April 21st, 1644, John Evelyn’ diary shows he was touring Orleans, and Jeanne D’Arc’s memorial statue.  Duke Louis of Orleans and Count de Dunois, the Bastard of Orleans,  appear in Walter Scott’s “Quentin Durward”.


‘Upon the arm of his relation Dunois, walking with a step so slow and
melancholy that he seemed to rest on his kinsman and supporter, came
Louis Duke of Orleans, the first prince of the Blood Royal (afterwards
King, by the name of Louis XII), and to whom the guards and attendants
rendered their homage as such. The jealously watched object of Louis's
suspicions, this Prince, who, failing the King's offspring, was heir to
the kingdom, was not suffered to absent himself from Court, and,
while residing there, was alike denied employment and countenance.
The dejection which his degraded and almost captive state naturally
impressed on the deportment of this unfortunate Prince, was at this
moment greatly increased by his consciousness that the King meditated,
with respect to him, one of the most cruel and unjust actions which a
tyrant could commit, by compelling him to give his hand to the Princess
Joan of France, the younger daughter of Louis, to whom he had been
contracted in infancy, but whose deformed person rendered the insisting
upon such an agreement an act of abominable rigour.
 
The exterior of this unhappy Prince was in no respect distinguished
by personal advantages; and in mind, he was of a gentle, mild and
beneficent disposition, qualities which were visible even through
the veil of extreme dejection with which his natural character was at
present obscured. Quentin observed that the Duke studiously avoided even
looking at the Royal Guards, and when he returned their salute, that he
kept his eyes bent on the ground, as if he feared the King's jealousy
might have construed the gesture of ordinary courtesy as arising from
the purpose of establishing a separate and personal interest among them…’

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