Thursday, June 20, 2002

Loches, France

The entry gate to the medieval town where we spent our rest day. Inside the arch at the bottom of the picture we saw where the portcullis was -- there were two of them, so unwanted visitors could be stopped from entering the city and trapped to keep them from leaving until the powers that be had decided their fate.

Under the reign of Phillip the Rash, this building was one of the places where the king resided. One of the rooms in the chateau is reported to be the place where Charles VII received Joan de Arc in 1429, and it is also here that the same Charles through lavishly decadent parties inan effort to win the affection of the "scandously wicked yet stunningly beautiful" Agnes Sorel. Many other famous French names are associated with the medieval town of Loches, but the name of Agnes Sorel is most prominent. Her tomb lies here, marking the depth of the impression that she made in her 28 years of life! (Since our visit in 2002, her tomb has apparently been moved to the nearby Collegiale Saint-Ours.)

The original iron-man.  I started with "the original buns of steel", but since that was the only portion left uncovered, I just couldn't make it work.  Apparently Napoleon was in good company, stature wise -- this full-size suit of armor couldn't have stood more than 5 feet tall.

 A view of the city of Loches taken from the top of the keep (the tower at the end of the castle).  Looking down from the keep, you have to wonder, though, how many men attempted to overtake this stronghold only to end up retreating, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y down the steep embankment they had just come up.   While up here we were told that pouring boiling oil from the top of the castle onto an advancing foe was a technique only used once in all of history as. Leave it to Hollywood to take that one episode and turn it into a regular occurrence!

I believe this is a view of the keep taken once we got back to our room (just outside of town) for the night.  While we explored this castle, our guide gave us a description of some of the more commonly used forms of torture. He claimed that the often first method of torture (and the most effective one) was to take out the implements of torture and describe their uses to the captive. Not surprisingly, this was sufficient to break many the waiting captive.  Another form of torture that was frequently used involved locking barefoot captives to long iron poles and tickling their feet with feathers. As our guide said, "For the first thiry seconds this is funny. After 30 minutes -- not so funny!"

Collegial Saint-Ours
The interior of the cathedral within the walls of the medieval city of Loches. We had the opportunity to revisit this site on the evening of the solstice -- a night that all of France devotes to free music festivals. The performance of classical vocal and instrumental music here brought tears to my eyes. I've never been so enveloped by the richness of sound... Simply breathtaking.

A close-up of the gorgeous stained glass windows that bathed the cathedral in the softest of light.

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