Il Moro

It’s time to don my armour again and enter the labyrinth. I’ll be running after a black horse, sword in hand, with a raven on my shoulder, searching for Jacob.

I’ve left my crown behind, it’s nothing but a burden.


Jacobus

40 days and three Jacobs later…


Riddles, riddles, riddles

I’m battling with my three Jacques again trying to lift the veil of confusion, but I haven’t made any progress. Here is something else instead. This is a picture of the great council of Mechelen of 1473, with Charles the Bold presiding. The original of this painting, though not contemporary, should be somewhere in a museum in Mechelen. I’ve been to Mechelen quite a few times but that was for IL related stuff so I have not yet seen it live. Another thing for the bucket list. Apparently there’s also a painting of John the Fearless in the museum, I think it looks like the Dijon one.

I already knew of the above painting because it features in many catalogues and history books. Charles the Bold is in it, obviously and one of the de Lalaings, can’t be Jacques the tournament Jacques because he had died years before. A while ago I also discovered that it may contain the portrait of the other tournament guy I’m researching (see previous post). And now I’ve discovered a possible ancestor of mine is also in the picture and is sitting quite close to Charles. Wishful thinking, most likely. More documents to decipher.


The Sword in the Stone: Louis, Louis, Louis

Albi

I am not really stuck with the quest but the part about Gideon two weeks before I ran into the fleece kept bugging me. After retracing my steps to the moment the roadsign with Gideon appeared in the summer of 2018 and checking the picture, not finding anything new and interesting (see older posts), I decided to go back in time and place, a mere few minutes earlier, when we were inside the cathedral St. Cécile at Albi, which was maybe 50, 70 metres away from the river. I don’t like loose ends and this one was still dangling.

I did something I had not done, ie. look at the photographs I took inside the church once more with a different eye, and this time also do some research about the history of the church in the second half of the 15th century.

The dominant decoration is a large medieval fresco of The Last Judgement. It shows medieval men and women being tortured by demons and the way to heaven and more of that sort of apocalyptic stuff the medieval people and the contemporary media are quite fond of.

The middle scene of the Judgement is missing, it was destroyed centuries ago to create a doorway. It possibly showed Christ in heaven and maybe St Michael weighing souls. Some articles I read mentioned that the Last Judgement painting of Rolin at Beaune was an inspiration for the Albi one but a certain professor Durliat claims it was more likely inspired by a receuil of 1492, published by Antoine Vérard, a Parisian printer. The first theory is interesting because it is a direct link with the quest. However, I don’t see many obvious similarities between the paintings. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article by Durliat nor the receuil that is mentioned but interestingly enough Vérard also printed versions of The cent nouvelles nouvelles and Le chevalier délibéré, two manuscripts I’ve run into before and which are directly linked with the Burgundians. But that is a trivial link.

Some articles state the Judgement was painted somewhere around 1474, another article dates the fresco around 1500. No real certain date in any case, it would have taken some time to paint anyway.

The photographs I took of The Last Judgment didn’t reveal anything new but in the history of the church and the painting I found some unexpected links to the quest (though most of them not very crucial for the main quest at this moment, I must admit).
I am not going to retell the whole history of Albi cathedral, built between 1282 and 1480. It can easily be found online. I’ll just describe the two men that were involved with the church and the fresco and that are part of the period I’m researching (1433-1477). These men were Louis I of Amboise and his nephew Louis II of Amboise.

A short summary with relevant facts based on several articles I found on the internet, and which I will update when I discover new facts:

1. Louis I of Amboise

Louis I of Amboise was born in the the castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire (which we saw from outside last summer (but did not enter unfortunately – castle overdose that day).

He was born in 1433, the same year as Charles the Bold. His history is linked with the king of France and the wars with Burgundy, he also conducted negotiations in January 1477 when Burgundy was annexed by France after the death by Charles the Bold. He was a witness at the marriage of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne on 7 January 1499. Anne de Bretagne is also part of the quest and I’ve ran into her in different circumstances years ago, in part I of the quest, so interesting trivia.

Louis died in Lyon somewhere between 1503 and 1505, so long after Charles the Bold.

I am going to try and dig up information about him in my personal library but currently I’m more interested in his nephew:

2. Louis II of Amboise

Louis was the son of Charles I of Amboise, brother of Pierre, Louis I’s father. I got a bit lost in the family relations so take it with a grain of salt for now. He was born in the castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire in 1477, the same year Charles the Bold died, or maybe a bit later according to some sources (again, I will try to find out more about him in my personal library).

I couldn’t find a portrait of Louis II online, but I did find a portrait of his brother, Charles II of Amboise by Andrea Solari. Ironically I have had this portrait in my medieval reference portrait folder for ages and often use it as a reference, without really having done any research about it. So it’s quite odd there is more to it than just a pretty picture. I have no idea if the brothers resembled each other.

The link with Burgundy is clear: on 9 August 1501 Louis II is appointed bishop of Autun, of which I am also researching that period, as mentioned before.

His bishopry or whatever it is called, doesn’t last long. In 1503 Louis II returns to Albi. He dies in Italy in 1511.  I have to look into his period at Autun because he is a major direct link with one of my subquests. I want to find out what his contacts were and how he ended up there. Also, I have a feeling there are a few links in the Amboise part of the story that I haven’t discovered yet. But that is not going to happen today.

Bruges

About a week after our stay in the Tarn, we tagged along with relatives on a trip to Bruges because they wanted to visit an exhibition about WWI. It was summer and very crowded so after the exhibition we had lunch, and afterwards just wandered around. Apart from a short visit to the Saint Salvator cathedral and the Holy Blood chapel where I took a couple random pictures, we didn’t really visit or look at anything in particular. Charles the Bold was not in the picture, literally. The stained glass windows of the Holy Blood chapel turned out to be overexposed, it is not allowed to photograph the relic and we didn’t set foot in the Church of our Lady where the tombs are. The rest of the few pictures I took were just of streets full of tourists and the Jerusalem church from the outside. The tower behind the houses:

The Jerusalem church is interesting and there are links with the Dukes, but not quite in a way that it would help me with the quest at the moment. But I’m keeping it in the back of my head.

We also didn’t visit the Groeninge museum where the painting by van Eyck with van der Paele and Saint George is, as we were in a group, it was late and everybody was tired. But I remembered Durendal, hidden away in a random picture of some buildings at Rocamadour and reminded myself it’s all in the eye of the beholder, you just have to find it when it wants to be found.

All items in this quest seem to consist of three parts. If week one was Gideon and week three was the Bold, the Fleece had to have been present in one form or another in week two as well. I went through the pictures again

And this time I found it.

There it was, the Golden Fleece. Above the entrance of the Gruuthuusemuseum, the home of Louis of Gruuthuuse, knight of the golden fleece. I can’t believe I have not noticed it before. Louis is a major figure in the quest too but I have not really been busy with him.

On top of that, it’s the third Louis in this chain.

Plus est en vous: There is more in you.

Sounds like an invitation.

The museum was still closed the times I was in Bruges, so a third trip is in order. But first Corona has to disappear. It’s quite ironic. Charles the Bold was desperately longing for a crown and I am trying to avoid it at all cost.


The plot thickens

View from a room in the castle of Chenonceau

At the moment I’m organising all the information I’ve gathered regarding the quest and writing it down in some sort of report. It is/will be posted under III in the menu. I’ve already drawn up a list of quest objectives and will be adding and updating the information when there is time.

All the while there was one thing that was still bugging me, ie. how some small scribbles on a road sign on the banks of the river Tarn led me to chase a dead duke through medieval Burgundy.

I had already studied the photographs of the two weeks preceding the quest but I hadn’t found anything special. Today I decided to look at them once again and be more thorough.

Soon I found what I was looking for, and more. I managed to link the first day more closely to the quest than I expected.

It’s already late, so the rest will be for the next time.


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