Category: Reconquering Burgundy

Three dances

Some appropriate Burgundian/Renaissance music. Three dances (La Franchoise Nouvelle – La Danza Ravestain – La Danza Cleves (Ballo)) based on a manuscript in the Burgundian library.

Somehow I keep ending up in the library of the Dukes of Burgundy this week. But that post is not for today.

Reconquering Burgundy: Liège

Because today was the only day it didn’t rain and we’re not in lockdown yet, I went to Liège to pick up a book (which wasn’t there but that’s another story). It was a good occasion to pay a vist to two old acquaintances, before Corona gets us (the beer or the virus, whichever comes first). So consider it a dark pilgrimage as the one to the Holy Blood last year was of no use, lol.

It looks like quite a few of my ancestors are from the Liège region, not including my great grandfather who was born on the same day as me (in another year, obviously), though my grandmother always claimed this. He lived near the road to Liège but that was about it. But there are a few others. Anyway, I’ve been on a great many shopping trips to Liège with my grandmother, but I had never visited the treasury.

The city was quite trashed by the Charles the Bold and the Burgundians in 1468. It’s a long story, readily available on the internet. So here are just some pictures of today.

The palace of the bishops. The medieval one was badly damaged by the Burgundian troops and by other disasters, so this is a newer version.

The statue of Lucifer by Guillaume Geefs. I already have millions of pictures of this I just took a couple. It’s quite ironic that the Charles the Bold reliquary is not far away, through the door on the right and down the cloister corridor.

There are plenty of shiny objects in the treasury, some manuscripts, a coffin and the cape (chasuble is the word I guess) of David of Burgundy, an illegitimate son of Philip the Good, Charles the Bold’s father, and thus a half-brother of Charles. Didn’t take a picture.

I couldn’t find the reliquary at first because it is in a small, completely black room, somewhere through a narrow door. And I’m an idiot and didn’t look at the signs.

The place is so quiet that I was alone for most of the time.

Trivia: Around more or less the same time last year – the only sunny day during spring break in February – I was standing before the tomb of Charles the Bold at Bruges and shortly after that before the Van der Paele Madonna painting by van Eyck, whose St. George inspired that of the reliquary.

Here are a couple pictures, not great because I took them with my phone. More pictures are on their own page of the menu under The Burgundian Codex. Side note: I am not sure nowadays what is true and false after a couple recent museum visits where lots of stuff turned out to be replicas so I can’t tell for 100% sure if this is the real thing or a replica. It is presented as the real thing but you never know. In any case, it was hard to photograph as a) it is very shiny and b) it looks much better in real, even next to the professional pictures.

Can’t say that this is a flattering portrait. That scowl, those terrifying eyes. But interesting with regard to quest number 1 (see The Sword in the Stone).

Reconquering Burgundy: Vorsen

Vorig weekend hebben we een wandeling gemaakt rond de tumuli van Montenaken. De site is om verschillende redenen interessant: 1) er zijn verschillende tumuli vlak bij elkaar. 2) Op 20 oktober 1465 heeft het Bourgondische leger Raes van Heers en de Luikenaars verslagen 3) Een paar honderd jaar later woonden hier een aantal van mijn voorouders in de buurt, al dan niet incluis Egidius en zijn Marie.

De tumuli liggen vlak bij elkaar. Volgens mijn informatie heeft Raes zich eerst in de kerk van Montenaken verstopt waarna die vervolgens opgefikt werd door de Bourgondiërs. [Er zou nog een stukje van de oude kerk over zijn maar daar zijn we (nog) niet gaan kijken].

De Luikse troepen zijn uiteindelijk de velden opgegaan. De Luikenaars zouden zich tussen twee tumuli verstopt hebben (moeilijk te geloven als je ze ziet). Een verslag hiervan is oa. te lezen in de memoires van Jean de Haynin. Karel de Stoute zat nog in Conflans dus die was er niet bij.

Het slagveld lag volgens mijn informatie in elk geval tussen Montenaken en Vorsen, dus we waren hopelijk op de juiste plek, hoewel er nergens op de informatieborden een verwijzing naar de veldslag staat. Mogelijk kun je er nog spullen uit oude tijden ontdekken. We kwamen een gezin tegen dat met een metaaldetector aan de gang was.

Het was een sombere dag met af en toe regen. Enkele sfeerbeelden:

Oude kaart van de omgeving:

En last but not least: de kerk van Vorsen. Het is een redelijk nieuwe, uit 1800-iets, dus van lang na Egidius. Ik ben er ondertussen nog niet uit of Egidius wel in het verhaal thuishoort. Het kerkhof is te nieuw om uit de grafstenen veel informatie te halen.

Ik ben ietwat verder opgeschoten in het Kretenzische stamboomlabyrint maar vooral vaak in doodlopende steegjes beland, en rond 1600 begint iedereen familie te worden van elkaar (met de nodige kerkelijke dispensaties bij de huwelijken :/).

Wordt vervolgd.

Reconquering Burgundy: Brugge III

The last one about Bruges, just random stuff connected to the Dukes.

After the tombs, I went to the museum (see Brugge I), where I spent quite some time looking at the paintings and some more time in the shop looking at all the weird touristy objects. By the time I was done, I was thirsty and hungry so I had a snack and a coffee which are not difficult to come by. After that I went to the basilica of the Holy Blood. I was just in time for the opening of the doors of the chapel at 1400 hours, which meant this time I was also able to witness the small ceremony when the blood is brought out.

The Blood wasn’t my main goal but as I was there anyway, I queued up to have another look at it. As I wrote last August, it is not allowed to take pictures of the Holy Blood. I also seem to have misplaced the leaflet I got, which has some info.

This time I managed to spot the dukes in the main part of the chapel, on the not so old stained glass windows. It took a bit of experimenting with the settings of the camera to take a decent picture, and avoid the glare of the sun. The B is quite far away as well. He is pictured with his second wife, not the third, for some reason.

And these are Maximillian and Mary of Burgundy. Well I suppose, it’s them, they definitely look like them in any case:

Then I went down to the old St. Basil chapel underneath. There were no relics on show, so a magical sword is still out of the question.

After that I did ‘the Burgundian walk’ I found on the internet, more or less anyway. I ended up in the Prinsenhof where the Dukes had their residence in the city. Now, from what I gather it is a big hotel and a smaller hotel on the side. The buildings look new to me, but then a lot in Bruges is not as old or as old as it looks. According to the info on the website the Karel de Stoute hotel is located where his old town house was, it’s a hard to tell, though.

The somewhat ridiculous The Dukes Palace (not sure what public they’re aiming at):

And the smaller Karel de Stoute:

Then I wandered around a bit until it was time for my train.

Reconquering Burgundy: Brugge II

The first thing I did was head towards the O.L.Vrouwkerk which is situated in the middle of Bruges. Restoration works have been going on for years and at the moment the chapel where the Madonna by Michelangelo is normally located is inaccessible so the sculpture is not on display, just a cast. There was a lot of noise and dust so the entrance fee for the ‘museum’ was only 2 Euro instead of 6.

Apart from the things mentioned above there is large altarpiece by van Orley, a few medieval tombs and some not so great paintings. Unless you’ve never seen the choir of an old church or are very into Michelangelo and the B & C°, its probably not worth getting a ticket for the ‘museum’ (flog me if you think I deserve it). The outside is not very spectacular either.

This is the church interior, the tombs are at the back, behind the grate in the middle.

Mary’s tomb dates from just some years after her death, around 1500. The B’s tomb is much newer, from the middle of the 16th century. In 1979, when restoration works were going on (yeah, it’s a local tradition), Mary’s coffin and skeleton were discovered by accident. It turns out, the tombs were moved during the course of the centuries.

They are now back in their original positions. An autopsy of the skeleton revealed that it matches the injuries Mary sustained when she fell of her horse during a hunting trip. She was only 25. There was a small box with her, which contained the heart of Philip II, her son, who died of an illness or poisoning at 28. Charles was killed/committed virtual suicide at Nancy at 43. That’s three generations of tragic deaths at a (relatively) young age. With that in mind, the wide open, staring eyes of the effigies, are rather creepy.

According to Wikipedia the coffin with her skeleton is visible but I couldn’t see it though I crawled around on my knees (it was very calm that day and hardly any visitors came by). There was a bad reflection on the glass, so maybe that’s why. I saw some pictures of the skeleton somewhere but I think it was in a library book.

Here are some pictures of her tomb. Unfortunately, because I’m on the short side, it turned out to be impossible to take picture from a above. Eg. for the first one I stood on my toes with my arm high up and it’s still not high enough.

Also according to Wikipedia, Charles the Bold was originally buried in the St. Donaas church, which was demolished later on. But somewhere else I read that when they brought his remains to Bruges, they put the casket in Mary’s tomb as a temporary solution, until there was room for him, so I’ll have to look into that. In any case, he’s not home. First of all, the skeleton has disappeared, maybe during a revolution when the church was pillaged and thrashed. Secondly, the bones, or at least the skull, that were brought to Bruges, were probably not his. His heart is probably still somewhere in the soil of Nancy.

Engraving of the tomb in its previous location:

The graves below:

Now if this is a real Carravaggio I’ll eat my hat:


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