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this transition period is realized in all its meaning, with all the
"monstrous and inform" characteristics that were inevitably a part of
it, the mystery of this strange sixteenth century in France is half
explained, of this "glorious devil, large in heart and brain, that did
love beauty only" and would have it somewhere, somehow, at whatever

Francis I. had passed his early years at Cognac, at Amboise, or
Romorantin, and when he first saw Chambord it was only the old feudal
manor-house built by the Counts of Blois. He transformed it, not by
the help of Primaticcio, with whose name it is tempting to associate
any building of this king's, for the methods of contemporary Italian
architecture were totally different; but, as Mr. de la Saussaye
proves, by the skill of that fertile school of art particularly of one
Maitre Pierre Trinqueau, or Le Nepveu, whose name is connected with
more successful buildings at Amboise and Blois. The plan is that
of the true French château; in the center is the habitation of the
seigneur and his family, flanked by four angle towers; on three sides
is a court closed by buildings, also with towers at each angle, and
like most feudal dwellings the central donjon has one of its sides on
the exterior of the whole ...

It may well be imagined that Chambord is the parody of the old
castles, just as the Abbey of Thélème parodies the abbeys of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Both heaped a fatal ridicule upon
the bygone age, but what Rabelais could only dream Francis could
realize, yet not with the unfettered perfection that was granted to
the vision of Gargantua; for surely never was the spirit of the time,
seized and smitten into incongruous shapes of stone at so unfortunate
a moment, just when the old Renaissance was striving to take upon
itself the burden which was too heavy for the failing Gothic spirit,
just when success was coming, but had not yet come.

It is only from within the court, where the great towers fling their
shadows over the space, where pinnacles and gables soar into the air,
and strange gargoyles and projectures shoot from the darkness into
light, that it is possible to realize the admiration which Chambord
roused when it was first created. Brantôme waxes enthusiastic over its
wonders, and describes how the king had drawn up plans (mercifully
never carried out) to divert the waters of the Loire to his new
palace, not content with the slender stream of Cosson, from which
the place derived its name. Others compare it to a palace put of the
Arabian Nights raised at the Prince's bidding by a Genie, or like
Lippomano, the Venetian ambassador, to "the abode of Morgana or
Alcinous"; but this topheavy barrack is anything rather than a "fairy
monument"; it might with as much humor be called a "souvenir of first
loves," as M. de la Saussaye has it. Both descriptions fit Chenonceaux
admirably; when used of Chambord they are out of place.


[Footnote A: From "Castles and Chateaux of Old Touraine." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, L.C. Page &
Co. Copyright, 1906.]


Chenonceaux is noted chiefly for its château, but the little village
itself is charming. The houses of the village are not very new, nor
very old, but the one long street is most attractive throughout its
length, and the whole atmosphere of the place, from September to
December, is odorous with the perfume of red and purple grapes. The
vintage is not equal to that of the Bordeaux region, perhaps, nor
of Chinon, nor Saumur, but "vin du pays" of the Cher and the Loire,
around Tours, is not to be despised.

Most tourists come to Chenonceaux by train from Tours; others drive
over from Amboise, and yet others come by bicycle or automobile. They
are not as yet so numerous as might be expected, and accordingly here,
as elsewhere in Touraine, every facility is given for visiting the
château and its park.

If you do not hurry off at once to worship at the abode of the
fascinating Diane, one of the brightest ornaments of the court of
François I. and his son Henri, you will enjoy your dinner at the Hôtel
du Bon Laboureur, tho most likely it will be a solitary one, and you
will be put to bed in a great chamber over-looking the park, through
which peep, in the moonlight, the turrets of the château, and you
may hear the purling of the waters of the Cher as it flows below the

Jean Jacques Rousseau, like François I., called Chenonceaux a
beautiful place, and he was right. It is all of that and more. Here
one comes into direct contact with an atmosphere which, if not feudal,
or even medieval, is at least that of several hundred years ago.

Chenonceaux is moored like a ship in the middle of the rapidly running
Cher, a dozen miles or more above where that stream enters the Loire.
As a matter of fact, the château practically bridges the river, which
flows under its foundations and beneath its drawbridge on either side,
besides filling the moat with water. The general effect is as if the
building were set in the midst of a stream and formed a sort of island
château. Round about is a gentle meadow and a great park, which gives
to this turreted, architectural gem of Touraine a setting equalled by
no other château.

What the château was in former days we can readily imagine, for
nothing is changed as to the general disposition. Boats came to the
water-gate, as they still might do if such boats still existed, in
true, pictorial legendary fashion. To-day the present occupant has
placed a curiosity on the ornamental waters in the shape of a gondola.
It is out of keeping with the grand fabric of the château, and it is a
pity that it does not cast itself adrift some night. What has become
of the gondolier, who was imported to keep the craft company, nobody
seems to know. He is certainly not in evidence, or, if he is, has
transformed himself into a groom or a chauffeur.

The château of Chenonceaux is not a very ample structure; not so ample
as most photographs would make it appear. It is not tiny, but still it
has not the magnificent proportions of Blois, of Chambord, or even of
Langeais. It was more a habitation than it was a fortress, a
country house, as indeed it virtually became when the Connétable de
Montmorency took possession of the structure in the name of the king,
when its builder, Thomas Bohier, the none too astute minister of
finance in Normandy, came to grief in his affairs.

Francis I came frequently here to hunt, and his memory is still kept
alive by the Chambre François I. François held possession till his
death, when his son made it over to the "admired of two generations,"
Diane de Poitiers.

Diane's memory will never leave Chenonceaux. To-day it is perpetuated
in the Chambre de Diane de Poitiers; but the portrait by Leonardo da
Vinci, which was supposed to best show her charms, has now disappeared
from the Long Gallery at the château. This portrait was painted at the
command of François, before Diane transferred her affections to his

No one knows when or how Diane de Poitiers first came to fascinate
François, or how or why her power waned. At any rate at the time
François pardoned her father, the witless Comte de St. Vallier, for
the treacherous part he played in the Bourbon conspiracy, he really
believed her to to be the "brightest ornament of a beauty-loving

Certainly, Diane was a powerful factor in the politics of her time,
tho François himself soon tired of her. Undaunted by this, she
forthwith set her cap for his son Henri, the Duc d'Orléans, and won
him, too. Of her beauty the present generation is able to judge for
itself by reason of the three well-known and excellent portraits of
contemporary times.

Diane's influence over the young Henri was absolute. At his death
her power was, of course, at an end and Chenonceaux, and all else
possible, was taken from her by the orders of Catherine, the
long-suffering wife, who had been put aside for the fascinations of
the charming huntress.

It must have been some satisfaction, however, to Diane, to know that,
in his fatal joust with Montgomery, Henri really broke his lance and
met his death in her honor, for the records tell that he bore her
colors on his lance, besides her initials set in gold and gems on his

Catherine's eagerness to drive Diane from the court was so great, that
no sooner had her spouse fallen - even tho he did not actually die for
some days - than she sent word to Diane "who sat weeping alone," to
quit the court instantly; to give up the crown jewels - which Henri had
somewhat inconsiderately given her; and to "give up Chenonceaux in
Touraine," Catherine's Naboth's vineyard, which she had so long
admired and coveted.

She had known it as a girl, when she often visited it in company with
her father-in-law, the appreciative but dissolute François, and had
ever longed to possess it for her own, before even her husband, now
dead, had given it to "that old hag Diane de Poitiers, Duchesse de

Diane paid no heed to Catherine's command. She simply asked: "Is the
king yet dead?"

"No, madame," said the messenger, "but his wound is mortal; he can not
live the day."

"Tell the queen, then." replied Diane, "that her reign is not yet
come; that I am mistress still over her and the kingdom as long as the
king breathes the breath of life."

The château of Chenonceaux, so greatly coveted by Catherine when she
first came to France, and when it was in the possession of Diane,
still remains in all the regal splendor of its past. It lies in the
lovely valley of the Cher, far from the rush and turmoil of cities and
even the continuous traffic of great thoroughfares, for it is on the
road to nowhere unless one is journeying crosscountry from the lower
to the upper Loire. This very isolation resulted in its being one
of the few monuments spared from the furies of the Revolution, and,
"half-palace and half-château," it glistens with the purity of its
former glory, as picturesque as ever, with turrets, spires, and
roof-tops all mellowed with the ages in a most entrancing manner.

Even to-day one enters the precincts of the château proper over a
drawbridge which spans an arm of the Loire, or rather, a moat which
leads directly from the parent stream. On the opposite side are the
bridge piers supporting five arches, the work of Diane when she was
the fair chatelaine of the domain. This ingenious thought proved to
be a most useful and artistic addition to the château. It formed a
flagged promenade, lovely in itself, and led to the southern bank of
the Cher, whence one got charming vistas of the turrets and roof-tops
of the château through the trees and the leafy avenues which converged
upon the structure.

When Catherine came she did not disdain to make the best use of
Diane's innovation that suggested itself to her, which was simply to
build the Long Gallery over the arches of this lovely bridge, and so
make of it a veritable house over the water. A covering was made quite
as beautiful as the rest of the structure, and thus the bridge formed
a spacious wing of two stories. The first floor - known as the Long
Gallery - was intended as a banqueting-hall, and possest four great
full-length windows on either side looking up and down the stream,
from which was seen - and is to-day - an outlook as magnificently
idyllic as is possible to conceive. Jean Goujon had designed for the
ceiling one of those wonder-works for which he was famous, but if the
complete plan was ever carried out, it has disappeared, for only a
tiny sketch of the whole scheme remains to-day.

Catherine came in the early summer to take possession of her
long-coveted domain. Being a skilful horsewoman, she came on
horseback, accompanied by a little band of feminine charmers destined
to wheedle political secrets from friends and enemies alike - a real
"flying squadron of the queen," as it was called by a contemporary.

It was a gallant company that assembled here at this time - the young
King Charles IX., the Duc de Guise, and the "two cardinals mounted on
mules" - Lorraine, a true Guise, and D'Este, newly arrived from Italy,
and accompanied by the poet Tasso, wearing a "gabardine and a hood
of satin." Catherine showed the Italian great favor, as was due a
countryman, but there was another poet among them as well, Ronsard,
the poet laureate of the time. The Duc de Guise had followed in the
wake of Marguerite, unbeknown to Catherine, who frowned down any
possibility of an alliance between the houses of Valois and Lorraine.

A great fête and water-masque had been arranged by Catherine to take
place on the Cher, with a banquet to follow in the Long Gallery in
honor of her arrival at Chenonceaux.

When twilight had fallen, torches were ignited and myriads of lights
blazed forth from the boats on the river and from the windows of the
château. Music and song went forth into the night, and all was as gay
and lovely as a Venetian night's entertainment. The hunting-horns
echoed through the wooded banks, and through the arches above which
the château was built passed great highly colored barges, including a
fleet of gondolas to remind the queen-mother of her Italian days - the
ancestors perhaps of the solitary gondola which to-day floats idly by
the river-bank just before the grand entrance to the château. From
parterre and balustrade, and from the clipt yews of the ornamental
garden, fairy lamps burned forth and dwindled away into dim infinity,
as the long lines of soft light gradually lost themselves in the
forest. It was a grand affair and idyllic in its unworldliness ...

Catherine bequeathed Chenonceaux to the wife of Henry III., Louise
de Vaudémont, who died here in 1601. For a hundred years it still
belonged to royalty, but in 1730 it was sold to M. Dupin, who, with
his wife, enriched and repaired the fabric. They gathered around
them a company so famous as to be memorable in the annals of art
and literature. This is best shown by the citing of such names as
Fontenelle, Montesquieu, Buffon, Bolingbroke, Voltaire, and Rousseau,
all of whom were frequenters of the establishment, the latter being
charged with the education of the Dupins' only son.

Chenonceaux to-day is no whited sepulcher. It is a real living and
livable thing, and moreover, when one visits it, he observes that the
family burn great logs in their fireplaces, have luxurious bouquets of
flowers on their dining-table, and use wax candles instead of the more
prosaic oil-lamps, or worse - acetyline gas.


[Footnote A: From "Castles and Châteaux of Old Navarre." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, L.C. Page &
Co. Copyright, 1907.]


Above the swift flowing Ariège in their superb setting of mountain
and forest are the towers and parapets of the old château, in itself
enough to make the name and fame of any city.... The actual age of
the monument covers many epochs. The two square towers and the main
edifice, as seen to-day, are anterior to the thirteenth century, as is
proved by the design in the seals of the Comtes de Foix of 1215 and
1241 now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. In the fourteenth
century these towers were strengthened and enlarged with the idea of
making them more effective for defense and habitation.

The escutcheons of Foix, Beam and Comminges, to be seen in the great
central tower, indicate that it, too, goes back at least to the end
of the fourteenth century, when Eleanore de Comminges, the mother of
Gaston Phoebus, ruled the Comté. The donjon or Tour Ronde arises on
the west to a height of forty-two meters; and will be remarked by all
familiar with these sermons in stones scattered all over France as one
of the most graceful. Legend attributes it to Gaston Phoebus; but all
authorities do not agree as to this. The window-and door-openings, the
moldings, the accolade over the entrance doorway, and the machicoulis
all denote that they belong to the latter half of the fifteenth
century. These, however, may be later interpolations.

Originally one entered the château from exactly the opposite side from
that used to-day. The slope leading up to the rock and swinging around
in front of the town is an addition of recent years. Formerly the
plateau was gained by a rugged path which finally entered the
precincts of the fortress through a rectangular barbican.

Finally, to sum it up, the pleasant, smiling, trim little city of
Foix, and its château rising romantically above it, form a delightful
prospect. Well preserved, well protected and forever free from further
desecration, the château de Fois is as nobly impressive and glorious
a monument of the Middle Ages as may be found in France, as well as
chief record of the gallant days of the Comtes de Foix. Foix' Palais
de Justice, built back to back with the rock foundation of the
château, is itself a singular piece of architecture containing a small
collection of local antiquities. This old Maison des Gouverneurs, now
the Palais de Justice, is a banal, unlovely thing, regardless of its
high-sounding titles....

It was that great hunter and warrior, Gaston Phoebus, who gave the
Château de Foix its greatest lustre. It was here that this most
brilliant and most celebrated of the counts passed his youth; and it
was from here that he set out on his famous expedition to aid his
brother knights of the Teutonic Order in Prussia. At Gaston's orders
the Comte d'Armagnac was imprisoned here, to be released after the
payment of a heavy ransom. As to the motive for this particular act,
authorities differ as to whether it was the fortune of war or mere

They lived high, the nobles of the old days, and Froissart recounts a
banquet at which he had assisted at Foix, in the sixteenth century, as

"And this was what I saw in the Comté de Foix: The Comte left his
chamber to sup at midnight, the way to the great 'salle' being led by
twelve varlets, bearing twelve illumined torches. The great hall was
crowded with knights and equerries, and those who would supped, saying
nothing meanwhile. Mostly game seemed to be the favorite viand, and
the legs and wings only of fowl were eaten. Music and chants were the
invariable accompaniment and the company remained at table until after
two in the morning. Little or nothing was drunk."




[Footnote A: From "In and Out of Three Normandy Inns." By special
arrangement with, and by permission of, the publishers, Little Brown &
Co. Copyright, 1892.]


The promised rivers were before us. So was the Mont, spectral no
longer, but nearing with every plunge forward of our sturdy young
Percheron. Locomotion through any new or untried medium is certain
to bring with the experiment a dash of elation. Now, driving through
water appears to be no longer the fashion in our fastidious century;
someone might get a wetting, possibly, has been the conclusion of the
prudent. And thus a very innocent and exciting bit of fun has been
gradually relegated among the lost arts of pleasure.

We were taking water as we had never taken it before, and liking the
method. We were as wet as ducks, but what cared we? We were being
deluged with spray; the spume of the sea was spurting in our faces
with the force of a strong wet breeze, and still we liked it. Besides,
driving thus into the white foam of the waters, over the sand ridges,
across the downs, into the wide plains of wet mud, this was the old
classical way of going up to the Mont.

Surely, what had been found good enough as a pathway for kings, and
saints and pilgrims should be good enough for lovers of old-time
methods. The dike yonder was built for those who believe in the devil
of haste, and for those who also serve him faithfully....

With our first toss upon the downs, a world of new and fresh
experiences began. Genets was quite right; the Mont over yonder was
another country; even at the very beginning of the journey we learned
so much. This breeze blowing in from the sea, that had swept the
ramparts of the famous rock, was a double extract of the sea-essence;
it had all the salt of the sea and the aroma of firs and wild flowers;
its lips had not kissed a garden in high air without the perfume
lingering, if only to betray them.

Even this strip of meadow marsh had a character peculiar to itself;
half of it belonged to earth and half to the sea. You might have
thought it an inland pasture, with its herds of cattle, its flocks
of sheep, and its colonies of geese patrolled by ragged urchins. But
behold somewhere out yonder the pasture was lost in high sea-waves;
ships with bulging sails replaced the curve of the cattle's sides and
instead of bending necks of sheep, there were sea-gulls swooping down
upon the foamy waves.

As the incarnation of this dual life of sea and land, the rock
stands. It also is both of the sea and the land. Its feet are of the
waters - rocks and stones the sea-waves have used as playthings these
millions of years. But earth regains possession as the rocks pile
themselves into a mountain. Even from this distance, one can see the
moving of great trees, the masses of yellow flower-tips that dye the
sides of the stony hill, and the strips of green grass here and there.

So much has nature done for this wonderful pyramid in the sea. Then
man came and fashioned it to his liking. He piled the stones at its
base into titanic walls; he carved about its sides the rounded breasts
of bastions; he piled higher and higher up the dizzy heights a medley
of palaces, convents, abbeys, cloisters, to lay at the very top the
fitting crown of all, a jewelled Norman-Gothic cathedral.

Earth and man have thrown their gauntlet down to the sea - this rock is
theirs, they cry to the waves and the might of the oceans. And the sea
laughs - as strong men laugh when boys are angry or insistent. She has
let them build and toil, and pray and fight; it is all one to her what
is done on the rock - whether men carve its stones into lace, or rot
and die in its dungeons; it is all the same to her whether each spring
the daffodils creep up within the crevices and the irises nod to them
from the gardens.

It is all one to her. For twice a day she recaptures the Mont. She
encircles it with the strong arm of her tides; with the might of her
waters she makes it once more a thing of the sea.

The tide was rising now.

The fringe of the downs had dabbled in the shoals till they became
one. We had left behind the last of the shepherd lads, come out to the
edge of the land to search for a wandering kid. We were all at once
plunging into high water. Our road was sunk out of sight; we were
driving through, waves as high as our cart wheels....

Our cart still pitched and tossed - we were still rocked about in our
rough cradle. But the sun, now freed from the banks of clouds, was
lighting our way with a great and sudden glory. And for the rest of
our watery journey we were conscious only of that lighting. Behind the
Mont lay a vast sea of saffron. But it was in the sky; against it the
great rock was as black as if the night were upon it.

Here and there, through the curve of a flying buttress, or the
apertures of a pierced parapet, gay bits of this yellow world were
caught and framed. The sea lay beneath like a quiet carpet; and over
this carpet ships and sloops swam with easy gliding motion, with sails
and cordage dipt in gold. The smaller craft, moored close to the
shore, seemed transfigured as in a fog of gold. And nearer still were
the brown walls of the Mont making a great shadow, and in the shadow
the waters were as black as the skin of an African. In the shoals
there were lovely masses of turquoise and palest green; for here and
there a cloudlet passed, to mirror its complexion in the translucent

There was a rapid dashing beneath the great walls; a sudden night of
darkness as we plunged through an open archway into a narrow village
street; a confused impression of houses built into side-walls; of
machicolated gateways; of rocks and roof-tops tumbling about our ears;
and within the street was sounding the babel of a shrieking troop of
men and women. Porters, peasants, and children were clamoring about
our cartwheels like so many jackals. The bedlam did not cease as we
stopt before a brightly-lit open doorway.

Then through the doorway there came a tall, finely featured brunette.
She made her way through the yelling crowd as a duchess might cleave a

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