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2006 MCS Tour of France


8th Century St Martin, Abbaye de Massay, Cher

St Martin, Abbaye de Massay, Cher

Abbaye de Massay

The Abbey was founded in 738 and originally dedicated to St Martin. It was plundered by the Normans in 873, and set fire to by the English in 1360. The protestants further damaged the church and the Abbey was abandoned in 1736, the church being re-dedicated to St Paxent.


The Chapter house seen on the right of the photo is thirteenth century.


12th Century Notre Dame de la Grande, Poitiers

Poitiers Church of Notre Dame

Notre Dame De La Grande Church, Poitiers

Notre dame da la Grande Poitiers

Little is known of the early history of the church but it was first mentioned in 924 and the main part of the church dates from the 11th century. The facade doors depicts biblical scenes and was built around 1120-1150 with Adam and Eve on the left, the Annunciation and visitation in the centre and the birth of Jesus on the right. Above this are the 12 apostles and 2 bishops with Christ at the top. Originally the images would have been painted. The interior of the church retains its paintings with the colours predominantly being red, yellow and blue.


Chartres 12th Century Cathedral

Chartres Stained Glass

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

An earlier cathedral stood on this site which burnt down in 1020 and building of a new cathedral began in 1145 but in 1194 a fire destroyed most the the church so it was rebuilt between 1194 and 1220. Most of the stained glass dates from the 13th Century having survived through religious turbulence, the French Revolution, well intentioned modernization and World War II.

Chartres contains a large Labyrinth built around 1200, these Labyrinths existed in most Gothic Cathedrals but have not survived. A walker can follow the path of the Labyrinth through its 11 circuits, it contains no tricks or dead ends.

The church contains a tunic said to belong to the Virgin Mary and has been a site of pilgrimage since 876 when the relic was at the Cathedral.

Chartres Stained Glass

Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass

Chartres Stained Glass

Much of the glass is from the 12th Century and depicts biblical scenes. The figures in the windows wear the clothing and have the tools of the 12th century. The knights shown here wear chain mail with long surcoats, large heater shields, both would have swords and one carries a spear or lance for use on horseback.

Glass is made up of a mixture of up to 70% silicic acid and metal oxides, which solidifies after melting, with up to 20% alkali's for durability and soda for fluidity. The pieces of glass were cut and painted, colours available were blue, copper-red, green, purplish-red and saffron-yellow. The pieces were then fired in a kiln to fix the colour to the glass and then fixed in with solder.


Chauvigny 11th-13th Century

ChauvignyChauvigny Donjon Gouzon


Chauvigny Collegiale Saint Piere

Chauvigny Collegiale Saint Piere

Pictured above is the Donjon Gouzon

Chauvigny is located 20 miles east of Poitiers on the river Vienne and has 4 castles located adjacent to each other. Building stone was so readily available that new castles were built without reusing the stone of earlier castles. Also there is shown to the left the La Collègiale Saint Pierre, an 11th century church.

Le chateau des Eveques de Poitiers is an 11th Century castle, pictured above left.

The Donjon Gouzon was constructed in the 13th Century, pictured above right.

The baronnial castle or "château des Evêques" constructed in the 11th century .

Le chateau d'Harcourt pictured below left is a castle constructed in the 12th Century, shown below right.


ChauvignyChauvigny St Pierre

Chauvigny Collegiale Saint Piere


Anvegin Dynasty

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud


Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Henry II and Elianore of Aquitaine

Henry II was the first Plantagenet and Anvegin king of England who reigned 1154 to 1189. He ruled England, Normandy and Anjou and when he married Eleanor of Aquitaine after her marriage to Louis VII of France was dissolved, he then also ruled over Touraine, Aquitaine and Gascony, together the Anvegin empire. He also controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Through his words "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?", Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. Henry and Eleanor had 5 sons and 3 daughters and after the eldest, Henry 'the young', died a power struggle took place with Eleanor favoring Richard 'the lion heart' and Henry favoring John. The sons rebelled against Henry and Richard defeated his father who died 2 days later at Chateau Chinon.


Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Richard the Lion Heart and Isabelle D' Angouleme

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Richard the Lion Heart and Isabelle D' Angouleme

Richard I gained the Duchy of Aquitaine and the Count of Poitiers from his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine. With his brothers he rebelled against his father Henry II, but was defeated, and in a later rebellion had victory over his father and became king. Richard raised huge sums of money for the 3rd Crusade with Philip II of France where they captured Acre but realising they could not take Jerusalem Richard negotiated a treaty with Saladin. On his return Richard was captured by Leopold V, Duke of Austria who handed him over to Henry VI, the Holy Roman Emperor, and was ransomed for 100,000 marks. His brother John and king Philip II of France offered 80,000 marks to keep him prisoner! Richard died in a small siege in France after spending only 6 months in England during his reign. His motto is still used by the royal family today: "Dieu et mon Droit" "God and my Right".

Isabelle D' Angouleme was the wife of King John 'Lackland', brother of Richard I. She later married Hugues X de Lusignan, Comte de La Marche.


Palais de Justice, Poitiers

Poitiers Palais

A building stood on this site in the 3rd Century and a palace was built for Louis the Pious the son of Charlemagne. Following a fire it was rebuilt in the 11th century and in the 12th Century was used by the Angevin kings Henry II with Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard I. The hall shown to the left was built by Queen Eleanor and became the la salle des pas perdus ("hall of lost footsteps"). Fire destroyed part of the palace again in 1346 by the army of Henry of Grosmont, the Earl of Derby and later Duke of Lancaster, further rebuilding work was carried out. In 1429 it was thought to have been the site of the examination of Joan of Arc by a council of theologians. In the 15th Century it changed its function from a residential palace to one for administrative use.


Poitiers 12th Century Cathedral

Poitiers St Peters Cathedral

St Peters Cathedral, Poitiers

Poitiers St peters Cathedral

Above front facade of Poitiers Cathedral of St Peter

A Roman Basilica was built on this site in the 4th century but was rebuilt in 1162 by Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and but it was not finished until 1379. The transepts contain original 12th and 13th century glass, the east window contains the pictures of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The choir stalls shown below were carved between 1235 and 1257.


Angel carrying crowns
Angel Carrying Crowns
Avaricious woman
Cat and weasel
Avaritious Woman Basilisk Bat Cat and Weasel
Double headed dog
Fighting dragons
Knight thrown from horse
Double Headed Dog
Fighting Dragons
Knight thrown from horse
Lion and dragon fighting
Man cutting bread
Man in orchard
Lion and Dragon Fighting
Man cutting bread
Man in orchard
Man killing pig
Men fighting
Man killing pig
Men fighting
Virgin with child
Virgin with child


13th Century Knights in Poitiers Museum

Poitiers Museum Knight 13th century

Poitiers Museum Knight 13th century

These 2 very well preserved effigies from the museum in Poitiers show knights of the late 13th to early 14th century, armoured with chain mail over the body arms and legs and chain mail mittens. Over this they wear long surcoats with slits for riding. On their left arms are long heater shields hanging over the shoulder by a leather strap and around their waists sword belts with scabbards and swords. On their feet they wear spurs over the chain mail. The long surcoat of the left effigy hides any evidence of knee coups, the right effigy does not appear to have any which would indicate an earlier date. The simpler sword belt and scabbard show a later date for the effigies.

Poitiers Museum Knight 13th century

Poitiers Museum Knight 13th century


Angers 13th Century


Chateau d'Angers

Angers was originally inhabited by the Romans and in the 9th century was owned by the counts of Anjou and in the 12th century was part of the Angevin empire. Phillipe II conquered the region in 1204 and Louis IX built the current fortress, the Chateaux d'Angers in the early 13th century. In 1373 Louis the Count of Anjou commissioned the Apocalypse Tapestry which is in the castle today, together with other medieval tapestries.


Interrogation of the Knights Templar at Chinon 1308

Chinon, Donjon du Coudray Templar graffiti

Chinon Donjon du Coudray Templar graffiti

Below: Effigy of a Knights Templar from the museum at Poitiers

Members of the knights Templar were held in Chinon. During their stay they were interrogated and the interrogation was recorded in what was to become known as the Chinon Parchment. This was held in the Papal archives which has records back to the 8th century and the Vatican estimates the linear length of documents as about 85 kilometers of shelving. Today scholars may request documents to view but only if they know precisely which document. Thus, they must know in advance that such a document exists. There is another secret archive not viewable at all. The Vatican Secret Archives have been estimated to contain 30 miles of shelving

The Chinon Parchment

An investigation was carried out by agents of the Pope to verify claims against the accused Knights Templar in the castle of Chinon. Raymbaud de Caron was the first to be interrogated on August 17, 1308 followed by Geoffroy de Charny then Geoffroy de Gonneville. On August 19, 1308, Hugo de Pérraud and on August 20, 1308 The Grandmaster Jacques De Molay After the interrogation, the cardinals granted all absolution.


Poitiers Museum Templar Knight 13th century


Battle of Crécy, 26 August 1346

Battlefield of Crecy viewed from the windmill looking South East over the position of Prince Edward

Crecy Battlefield

Edward III led the English army through France to take back his lands in Aquitaine and also lay claim to the French throne by right of his birth being closer to the French throne than King Philip. Trying to avoid battle with the French, king Edward III crossed the Somme but was forced to fight the French at Crécy-en-Ponthieu.

The French army was considered the best in Europe and outnumbered the English, however Edward had learnt the lessons of campaigns in Scotland, and turned the longbow into one of the most effective weapons in Europe and on the 26th August 1346 the English defeated the French. Edward III brought with him a number of canon which were used at the battle of Crécy, one of the first recorded uses in a battle, although with little effect.

After the battle of Crécy Edward III went on to capture Calais which was to prove an effective foothold into France for centuries.

Battle of Cressy


Battle of Poitiers, 19 September 1356

MCS members at the 650th Anniversary of the battle of Poitiers

Poitiers Battlefield

The English carried out a number of raids deep into France to deny the French resources and to show the French nobles that they their king had little power to resist the English.

The French raised an army to fight the English Chevauchée of 1356 and chased the English to the south East of Poitiers. The battle of Poitiers was fought on 19th September 1356 with the son of the English king, Edward of Woodstock, the Prince of Wales, or also known as The Black Prince defeating the French army whilst outnumbered. In the battle the French king John II was captured

The battle resulted in the King of France being ransomed for a huge sum, and a peace treaty the Treaty of Bretigny which after a few years was broken and the hundred years war resumed again. The French used a tactic of avoiding open pitched battles and slowly reversed their losses by recapturing towns and castles held by the English.


John Chandos Memorial at Lussacs-les-Châteaux, 1370

John Chandos Memorial Lussac-les-Châteaux


Above John Chandos Heraldry on restaurant at Lussacs-les-Châteaux

John Chandos Memorial near Lussac

John Chandos Memorial

Below the River Vienne at Lussacs-les-Châteaux

Sir John Chandos was from a minor noble family and became a close friend of Prince Edward. He was the viscount of Saint-Sauveur and the kings lieutenant of France, vice chamberlain of the royal household, constable of Aquitaine and seneschal of Poitou.

In 1337 John fought at Cambrai, the battle of Sluys in 1340, Crecy in 1346 the sea battle of Les Espangnols-sur-Mer in 1350, Poitiers in 1356 and Najera in 1367.

John died when he slipped and a spear was thrust into his face whilst attempting to ambush a group of French Knights at the bridge of Lussac, near Poitiers on the 31 December 1369. He had not worn a visor since losing an eye in 1364 when hunting a stag and entered the brain between nose and forehead. He was taken to the fort at Mortemer, He died the following Day, 1 January 1370, without regaining consciousness.

John Chandos Memorial River Vienne at Lussac-les-Châteaux


September 1370, Sack of Limoges

Enamel from Limoges, from the Poitiers museum

Limoges enamel

In August 1370 Limoges was taken by Duc de Berry for the French, who persuaded the Bishop to hand over the town in exchange for 10 years exemption from taxes. In July 1370 Louis d'Anjou captured the town of Moissac and Bertrand du Guesclin captured Brantôme, Saint-Yrieix and Abbey of Périgueux.

Prince Edward now greatly suffering from his illness, probably an amoebic dysentery then besieged Limoges from his litter, and on taking it on 19 September 1370 had all except those they could ransom executed as an example for resisting him. Froissart's figures may be a little suspect for the number killed as they exceed the entire population of the town. The city except for the Cathedral was burnt and pulled down.

The sack of Limoges is seen as the low point of the Prince of Wales, although such tactics were not unusual in the hundred years war. By January 1372 the French had retaken Limoges.

Limoges was renowned for the manufacture of enameled metal and its produce reached all of western Europe. The technique of enamel making was known as champlevé whereby a recess is filled with the enamel made of powdered glass which was then heated. They would then paint with another enamel called 'blanc de limoges' over the darker enamel surface.


Battle of Agincourt, 25 October 1415

15th Century Armour at the Azincourt Museum

Azincourt Museum

The English again laid claim to their ancestral territories in France and had a strong army to try and enforce it, but the English ha suffered a number of defeats in the first years of the 15rth century. In August and September 1415 the English siege and capture Harfluer and then march on to Calais, which had been captured by Edward III after the battle of Crecy.

On 25th October 1415 the English army led by king Henry V was trying to elude battle with the French led by king Charles VI, but was forced to fight near Agincourt. Again the outnumbered English using the English longbow and men-at-arms defeated the French elite cavalry as they had done at the battle of Crecy 69 years earlier in 1346 and 59 years earlier at the battle of Poitiers in 1356.

The English won further victories capturing Caen and Rouen, and at the sea battle of Harfluer. After the treaty of Troyes Henry V married Katherine of France and became the heir to the French throne. In 1422 Henry V becomes ill and dies followed by Charles VI. Henry's son aged one becomes the king of England and France.



Chinon and Joan of Arc

Chinon Arthur de Richemont
Chinon Georges de la Trmoille
Chinon Gilles de Rais
Chinon Guy de Laval
Chinon Jean Batard d'Orleans
Arthur de Richemont
Georges de la Trmoille
Gilles de Rais
Guy de Laval
Jean Batard d'Orleans
Chinon Jeanne d'Arc
Chinon Le Seigneur de Sainte Severe
Chinon Raul de Gaucourt
Chinon Regnault de Chartres
Chinon Robert de Baudricourt
Jeanne d'Arc
Le Seigneur de Sainte Severe
Raul de Gaucourt
Regnault de Chartres
Robert de Baudricourt




Below reconstruction of a trebuchet at Chinon

Theobald I, Comte de Blois built in 954 a stone castle on the site of a wooden fortress. Geoffrey Martel the Comte d'Anjou joined the two defensive structures by wall in the 11th century and added the Chapel of St Melanie. In the early 13th Century Henry II added further towers and the East Wing.

Charles VII, the heir of the throne of France in the early 1400's, lived in Chinon. Jeanne d'Arc visited the Dauphin Charles VII in Chinon at the beginning of his reign on March 8, 1429. She recognized him hiding among his court members in spite of his disguise, which he put on to test her. She helped Charles VII re conquer his kingdom from the English. For almost a hundred years, Chinon profited from the fact that it had become the capital of the kingdom.

Trebuchet at Chinon


Chateaux de Langeais, 15th Century Chateaux

Chateaux de Langeais

Chateaux de Langeais

Count d' Anjou Foulques Nerra (the Black Falcon) built a castle on this site in 1000 and part of the wall remains. In the 12th century Langeais was an important strategic location. Charles VII demolished the castle in the 15th century and Louis XI had it rebuilt over 3 years.

Jacques Siegfried restored the castle and when he died, it was donated to the Institut de France in 1904. Jacques decorated the interior of the Chateaux with tapestries and antiques from the 15th and 16th centuries.

On 6 December 1491 the marriage of Charles VIII (son of Louis XI) and Anne of Brittany that took and led to the unification of Brittany and France.


below entrance to Chateaux de Langeais


Chateaux de Langeais

Chateaux de Langeais Marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany 6 December1491

Chateaux de Langeais Marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany 6 December1491

Anne of Brittany was the only child of Francis II Duke of Brittany and when Francis died whilst Anne was 11 she became the Duchess of Brittany which resulted in a power struggle. It was intended that Anne would marry the English Prince of Wales, Edward but he disappeared in 1483. She was then married by proxy to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I in 1490. However the French king Charles VIII invaded Brittany and Anne aged 14 was forced to be married in secret to Charles VIII on 21 on 6 December 1491 which led to the unification of Brittany and France.

The picture left and below reconstructs the marriage.

The marriage contract stated that if Charles was to die then she would marry the next king of France. Charles died in 1498 and Louis XII succeeded him whom she married in 1499. At the wedding she wore white which was to start the tradition of brides wearing white at weddings.


Chateaux de Langeais Marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany 6 December1491


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