Tag: charles the bold

Item #8 (ctd): Identity theft

Today I was going to do a post about the above painting because there is something odd with it but during research one thing led to another. I seem to have opened another dark corridor in the labyrinth of the quest and there is so much information to go through that I won’t finish it today. Just as in my personal life right now I came across some cases of identity theft and multiple personalities.

In any case, a couple familiar names and places popped up again: Charles the Bold, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, and the chapter of the Golden Fleece at Valenciennes. To cut a long story short, I have reserved a number of books about Hugo, Hans and Rogier at the local library. They only have a couple weekly pickup moments due to Covid regulations so I’ll be able to get them on Tuesday. In the meantime this post is put on hold.

Item #8: Virgin with four saints (Medici Virgin)

The next item of the subquest list (see earlier post) is number 8, the Medici Virgin by Rogier van der Weyden (atelier) because there are a couple mysteries surrounding it.

I don’t know if I’ll finish it tonight, so I will pre-post the image, in case anybody has any comments. I’m not offering a reward for useful tips (except a bad copy of it ;))

Update 24.04.2020 – The small research I did last night opened up a lot of new corridors of the labyrinth, so it’s going to take a bit longer than expected.

Item #9: Loches and Ludovico Sforza

Yesterday I posted a list with things I want to research or am busy researching, when time permits. I am not going to follow the list in numerological order. Today I start with number 9. In the end I’ll explain why I included this in the quest item list, apart from it being part of the history of the late 15th century.

Last year we visisted a number of Loire castles during our short summer holiday. After checking it looks like I’ve only posted about Blois and Amboise so far, but not about Loches. Loches is, however, quite interesting. Most of the castles tourists typically visit are large, sumptuous castles, a bit out of the centre. Loches, on the other hand, is a small town and the two places of interest are located in the centre but not next to one another. It is also a bit confusing because of the terminology. The “château” or castle is a partially ruined donjon with some annexes, and was used as a prison during the reign of Louis XI. The building which looks like the idea people have of a medieval castle is called the royal lodge (“logis” or “cité royale”) and is located about 0,5 km from the donjon.

We visited the donjon first but here I’ll start with the royal lodge. It is a small, pretty castle, quite empty inside and it was quite interesting to walk around in the same rooms where Joan of Arc and Anne of Brittany (Anne de Bretagne) once walked around. Anne de Bretagne is linked to the tournament man but that’s for later posts. Joan of Arc needs no explanation. She was in Loches in 1429 and was captured by the Burgundians later on. Charles the Bold hadn’t been born yet at that time.

Another important person who lived here was Agnes Sorel, the mistress of Charles VII, the father of Louis XI who hated her. She died of mercury poisoning and there always have been rumours that it was Louis XI who poisoned her, but I don’t want to delve into medieval conspiracy theories. Her tomb is in the nearby church of St. Ours. She is not important for my research apart from her being one of the reasons Louis XI fled to Burgundy, to his uncle Philip the Good.

The royal lodge
Another view of the exterior of the royal lodge
The hall. There used to be a tile in the floor stating that Joan of Arc was in this room. I don’t think it is still there.
Of course I sat on that chair but I’ll spare you the picture of this major event…
This sword was on display in another room in the lodge. It is a very beautiful sword. According to the sign it is a Burgundian sword of the 15th century and belonged to a duke of Milan, perhaps a Sforza, perhaps not.
Small chapel in the lodge

The donjon, which is in another part of the town, consists of a partially demolished square tower, which is completely empty inside, and some annexes, including the cells where Ludovico was kept prisoner and where he died in 1508.

I had been here before, years ago, but that was on a sombre, rainy autumn day and the donjon seemed a lot more menacing that time.

The entrance to the donjon complex
Old style castle compared to the more modern manor style of the lodge
View from one of the rooftop terraces
Interior of the ruined donjon. It’s possbile to go to the top via narrow stairs and iron walkways.
One of the prison cells has a great number of carvings of different sorts of figures and objects. They give you tablets with 3D simulations of how the cells would have looked like for the few VIP prisoners in the 15th centuy, actually quite cosy with a fireplace and books and such.
Portrait of Ludovico Sforza. He was about 40 when he married a 15-year old girl. These days that would be majorly frowned upon.

Now, why talk about Loches and Sforza? Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508) was a Milanese duke who came into power long after Charles the Bold lost his last battle, so he is not directly linked to the quest. Long story short, he was in France doing stuff against the French and at one point tried to escape disguised as a Swiss, but was caught by the French and kept as a prisoner (I didn’t check if they tried to ransom him as was usual in those days with the VIPs). First he was kept as a prisoner in a few castles, where he had a bit of freedom, eg to go fishing and such. In 1504 he was moved to Loches, where he lived not as free but in relatively comfortable circumstances. When he tried to escape in 1508, however, his books and other amenities and privileges were taken away. He died in Loches in May 1508 at the age of 55.

The wall of Ludovico’s prison cell. According to the website of Loches castle, the paintings are attributed to Sforza himself.
Carving on one of the wall of Ludovico’s cell
Thought I’d also share a picture of Ludovico’s latrine

There is a small exhibiton with some information boards and a helmet, not that of Ludovico but one of his enemies. One of the boards mentions a mystery surrounding his tomb but it doesn’t seem to say what it is. Maybe that was on another board I didn’t photograph. According to the French Wikipedia, the cause of his death is unclear, either illness or assassination. It is also not clear what happened with his corpse. Perhaps that is he mystery.

Trivia Alert for what follows.

There are a number of reasons why I wanted to talk about Ludovico here, even though had no direct dealings with Charles the Bold – he was about twenty years younger. Note that his brother Galeazzo who preceded him as Duke of Milan supported Louis XI against Charles the Bold.

First of all, during this lockdown I am cleaning up files on my pc and came across our Loire photographs. Loches plays a role in the life of the persons I am researching and I hadn’t written a post about it yet, so this was a good time. For the occasion I reread the information about Sforza and this time I was triggered by his nickname Il Moro, because the past couple months I have come across two other Moros. Not only did Charles the Bold apparently have a horse with that name, but I came across an ancestor with a similar nickname (it appears in the parish register so it must have been commonly used). I remembered something about having encountered an Italian in his line somewhere so I checked where the Italian man came from (with some reservation as I was not able to double-check the descendancy myself yet). It appears he was also originally from Lombardy , from a town some 80 km from where Sforza was born. Cool, but not important for the rest of the research, yet. I say yet because at one point these little facts always help progressing things.

To be continued.


A great portrait but not such a great banker (Portinari)

A couple nights ago I was going to write another post regarding the quest because I received and found new information and interesting things to explore regarding Charles the Bold and the rest of the quest. Unfortunately, there was a technical problem with WP and yesterday I ran into more technical problems. So here is a summary of paths I am exploring or planning to explore.

It’s important to look at some of these things from the perspective of a 15th century military man with serious mental problems which will be a challenge. Overthinking is not to be done, but also not neglecting things Medieval paintings are full of symbolism we don’t always understand anymore. Tbh, until a couple years ago I had a slight aversion against Charles the Bold so I was not really interested in his story. I have caught up, but there are still holes here and there.

1. Jacques/Jacobus

I have not made much progress with the identification of the different Jacques. Interestingly enough, two of the Jacques were married to ladies named Sibyl (often spelled Sybil, nb), both also difficult to identify with certainty right now. Both Jacques are contemporaries of Charles the Bold. One of the Jacques fought on the side of the Bold’s army. Jacques is a popular name (and saint) and often used as a given name, which doesn’t make it any easier to differentiate among them. The problem is the naming convention in the Middle Ages is sometimes a bit random. The coat of arms is sometime helpful.
Trivia: because part one of the quest revolved around a star, I did some very scientific research (irony quotes off) and did a google search on the combination of star and Jacob, and it turns out there is actually a Star of Jacob prophecy. As usual this is formulated in biblical darkspeak, so it could be anything, including the star of the Magi. Not helpful right now. Also not really something to do with Charles the Bold directly, except that his crypto portrait seems to feature in quite a few Magi paintings of the 15th century.

2. The Sibyls

I have been looking into the Sibyls of the Mystic Lamb (not related to the Sibyl of Jacques quest, nb). One of them definitely reminds me of someone but I can’t think of where I have seen her before. We had homework for our adult painting class, ie watch some documentaries about the Mystic Lamb by the van Eyck brothers and learned something. The two Sibyllas are victims of mistaken identities, so that’s something to look into. I am not sure if they are important right now. There is also something odd about the God figure. Don’t know what yet, but it will come.

3. The Henrys

Henry Holland, duke of Exeter: there is a vague note about him and Charles the Bold in a 1900-something book about melancholy. I have to look into that. These notes in the margins often bring me further than the great battles.

Henry Beaufort, duke of Somerset: have to look into his relation with Charles the Bold in depth.

4. Hugo

Hugo van der Goes’s painting of the Magi may have an indirect link with the tournament man who has a link with Autun. It would lead me too far now to explain why I think this. I’ll do some research and write a separate post. In the meantime I also know why the boys look so familiar, also for a different post.

5. The relics

I added the Blood and the Fleece as interesting research/quest material but forgot about the Shroud. When I started researching the Blood I had a theory that the Shroud would be somehow connected with this part of history and it is, though not with the Bold but his cousin. I must add it to the pages.

6. The colours

There is much symbolism in the colours of the ceremonial garments of Charles the Bold and the knights. In two fields. Another thing to explore.

7. Margaret

Charles the Bold’s relationship with his third wife, from the start until the end was utterly bizarre. More to explore. There are some so-called crypto portraits of her and Mary, her stepdaughter. Something to take into account.

8. The Medici Virgin

Came across this painting by Rogier van der Weyden’s studio this afternoon when I was looking at some references in a book while I was painting. There are two men in this painting that look oddly familiar. Must look into this.

9. Three Moros

I was looking at some pictures of Loches castle I took this summer. Ludovico Sforza was imprisoned here. His nikname was Il Moro, apparently. So looks like I already have three Moros in the quest, another thing to explore in a post. There are some bankers in it too.

To be continued.

New paths

A couple weeks before the lockdown I borrowed a book from the local library called ‘Meesterwerk van van Eyck tot Rubens in detail’. I borrowed it because it has very good quality images of details of the Seven Sacraments. I wanted to study them because I’m copying a couple paintings by Rogier van der Weyden and his atelier and this book has better details than you can see in real life or online (though for the Mystic Lamb there is an even better website).

Anyway, it turned out that I mostly spent time looking at the detais of Hugo van der Goes’s Adoration of the Magi. I was quite intrigued by the two boys especially because they are not the usual medieval “stock image” (though all Hugo’s figures look particularly lifelike). There is an interesting development but it is late already and it is too long a story for this post. I’ll save it for one of the coming days. I had to turn the book back in and because of the lockdown I cannot just walk into the library and take it home again. Maybe I’ll try to borrow it via their covid-free pickup moments.

Two other things I have been looking into extensively the past couple weeks are the history of Jacques de Glimes and the colour symbolology of Charles the Bold’s vestments. I have already talked about this but I want to do it in a more systematic way. Alexander the Great, the Bold’s example, is also a possibility for a new post.


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