Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Victorian House Party at The Tanner House

My Last Event (Participating at Least)

at The Tanner House

Tanner House Front
1857 Aurora, IL
Death Comes to the Tanner House is the event of every year, for the last three years, at the Tanner House Museum. Many houses had house parties that reflected dressing up and ghosts. It also included games that were played for many social events.
I played the part of Vera Thornton, who was the grand-daughter of William and Mary Tanner, the daughter of Martha (one of the twins). Vera's lived in Naperville (the next town east towards Chicago) with her parents, Reverand and Mrs. Thornton. The year played here was about a year after William died, and ironically about a year before Vera died, 1893. So, it was a little earie for me. These games were technically for young ladies, but everyone that came in played. And, Vera was supposed to be 17. Well, I am well above that age!
Each room in the Tanner House was given a player. Here I am dressing myself in my mask for the party in "my grandfather's library". In real life, this is my favorite room of the house. In the Tanner times, I would never have been allowed in this room because it was a man's room. In fact, it was William's room. I liked to tell visitors that it was his "man cave" and that the children knocked on the door "at their doom." Of course that is an extreme statement. However, these words do convey the importance of the room to the man of the house. The wallpaper there is original, and you can see the secretary behind me, which was owned by the Tanner's as well.
This picture was blurry for theatrical reasons, but you can see me there with Bradley Green, who played an imagined character by the name of Professor Green. He was the man who was given up by my cousin, Fanny, in the drama. Here, Professor Green is receiving directions from me on how we would be divining his future for the next year.
Here are the bowls for both games that we played in "my grandfather's library". The four bowls grouped together in the center is the divination game mentioned above. The white ribbon that I am holding in my hands was tied around the participants eyes. I then turned them around four times, then moved the four bowls around, telling them that I did this because it was their fate, and not the person that was read prior. They then were turned around four more times. This was really fun for me because they would all laugh at this time, not just the person being "read" but the party goers that were there watching and waiting for their turn, and even those that were just told.
Strangely, I then had to move the people over slightly because they all moved left of center while they were turning. I did this by tapping their arm. Then I put their hands together, one over the other, palms down and tapped their palms telling them to walk forward until they felt the table (A beautiful 1800's Gothic Revival library table!). I would put their hands over each bowl and tell them the number of each. After this, I held their hands over the center of the four telling them that they would choose one of these four bowls that had different contents inside. These contents foretold their upcoming year. These contents and meanings are as follows:

                                                            *Worms: Death

                                                            *Beans: Poverty

                                                            *Flowers: Success

                                                            *Coins: Wealth

If someone got the worms, I would tell them that the reading didn't necessarily have to be the person themselves, but that it could be someone they knew, or even someone that they had met "tonight". And then telling them that there were quite a few people during the party that received this, and then would start coughing, trying to indicate that my character's demise was forthcoming. To take a slight detour to my part in the party, there was also a party guest upstairs that was reading through a spirit board (the same thing as a Ouija Board, however that is a name brand that was mas marketed in the later century). She would also give out information that someone would be dieing in the house later that year that began with a "V". So, hopefully people got the hint
The two bowls of ribbons in the foreground were for the next game. Most people understood this one right away because this was also played with pealing an apple, or an orange. Each person would take a ribbon and hold it in their right hand. I would ask everyone if they knew their right from their left. Most people thought that I was being silly, but there really are people that cannot tell, and I did not want them to feel imbarresed in front of the others. I then said, "just to make sure this is your right", and would tap everyone's right shoulder. I will tell you that there were actually a couple of people that did not know. So, then I would tell them to hold it in their right hand, and throw it over their left shoulder (again walking along the line and tapping everyone's left shoulder) until it hit the ground.
The letter that the ribbon fell into would indicate their true love's name. It would either be the first initial of the first name, middle name, last name, or nick name of the person that they would "grow up to marry" (no matter what the guests' ages were I said this). This ribbon was what Professor Green threw. In the story, he does not get the girl, so it was fantastic that he got a heart, because he would be in love, but would not marry! Bradley Green really did throw this, it was not faked.

There was something interesting about this for me, actually quite a bit. This became one of the most popular parts of the event! People came into my room and said, oh here are the games that everyone is talking about! That was exciting for me to know that guests were anticipating my roll with happy anticipation. Also, many times their fortunes were accurate for them. In other words, people would tell me that they had recently been laid off (if they had chosen beans), or lost a loved one (if they had chosen worms), they had gotten a promotion (flowers), or a raise (coins).  Also, the ribbons often times would fall into a letter that was their spouse's first or last name's first initial.
The Tanner House is rumored to be haunted (although I have never seen or heard anything). So, we all took pictures in "the" room. This is the bedroom at the top of the stairs, also known as either the "girls room" or the "twins room". After these pictures were developed, we noticed some visitors.
I got to play the ghost in the last night. I hope that everyone got the reference!
Here's to all of my friends at the Aurora Historical Society! What a great party!
All pictures, save the last, were taken by Mary Clark Ormond, President of the Aurora Historical Society, Aurora, IL.
The last photo was taken by Jennifer Putzier, Curator of the Aurora Historical Society, Aurora, IL.
Follow The Aurora Historical Society on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/#!/AuroraHistory?fref=ts

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Two Favorite THINGS In The Tanner House

These are the two items that I will miss the most from the Tanner House.

The Tanner House, House Museum
1857 Aurora, Illinois
So, this antebellum mansion had four bedrooms upstairs in the family area, and the master downstairs was created when William and Anna did not want to go up the 22 stairs. Let me tell you that I had to wear my knee brace because those stairs are tough when you walk them time and again during one day. So, I certainly would have felt for them! Don't let this photo fool you, the ceilings are very tall! The bottom story's ceilings are 14' high. Yikes!

Anyway, the room in the very front upstairs, which probably would have been the master before the Tanners took the bedroom downstairs has the most beautiful carpet. The carpet that is still there is originally from the time of the Tanners. It was made in rolls with the patterns matching up. I love it for the pattern.
This is about the width of one roll

Close up - Sort of
The next item that I will miss, is the item that I will miss the most. The Regina was the first type of music brought into the house mechanically. It is basically a huge music box. This one was donated from one of the Tanner great-grandchildren and was from about 1901. To give you an idea of cost, think of buying a car today cash only. They were for the very wealthy, not the every day Joe's family. The Tanner Regina stands about three feet tall (but I didn't measure it, so this is a guess from my new room in Murfreesboro). I would do anything to get the guests to listen to it! Believe me, this thing is LOUD, you can hear it throughout the house. So, when a docent was upstairs and I was in my office-The Sitting Room, I could hear the music plainly.
Front view of the Tanner Regina

Up close of the disk
The arm that supports the disk to the Regina. The disc is larger than the piece of furniture, so it bends (concave) and this arm keeps it to the fingers that reach up from the below that catch punches.
Here you can see the punch marks and how two of the ball bearings (on the right) of the rotating ball catch the holes on the perimeter of each disk make the disc rotate.

The Tanner House Regina (Yes, that's me talking)
Playing a John Philip Sousa March
You can visit The Tanner House Museum and the David L. PierceCenter in Aurora, IL. Here is their website http://www.aurorahistory.net/

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Little Bedroom

My New Room

So, the reason that I had such a long delay from entering information was that I moved from Illinois to Tennessee. I really loved my place in Naperville. I had a three story townhouse on White Eagle Golf Course with a pond view. The Living Room, known to me and my family as "The Tall Room" because it was two stories with a beautiful large arched window over a sliding glass door. My bedroom was upstairs, also with a pond view. Just my bedroom was 12' x 22.5' with a cathedral ceiling and was en-suite with a huge jacuzzi tub. Yes, I was spoiled.
Now, I have moved in with my mom, so that I can start my master's program in January. I am really excited, even though my life has downsized to a small bedroom of my own (well, Sidney still sleeps with me most days. So, even this isn't my own technically). My new bedroom is 11' x 12', literally half my old bedroom, and no cathedral ceiling. I have brought half my bedroom furniture and Dean's desk that I have my computer on. It is so old (It was my cousin Jeff's before he gave it to me. Then it went to my eldest son, Rob, then on to Dean), and beat up, but I have put an antique table scarf over it and added little nicknack's on to it. I have placed one of my painting holders at my computer as a book holder because, this desk too, is half the size of my desk in Illinois. I've taken some pictures for you, so you can see my new little world. I'm sure you can picture me at my desk typing away.
View from the hallway with drapes, comforter and pillows that I made.

View from the closet, bed was from Bombay & Co.
 View from the bed. Black cabinet from Hobby Lobby, T.V. I stole from Sidney, Desk was given to me back in the 80's, antique scarf I don't remember, poodle from e-bay, computer from Home Shopping Network. Picture on far left from e-bay, mirror from Kirklands, painting from my brother.
Little Statue of Hebe from the garden dept. at Hobby Lobby.
Close up of Ficus Tree from Kirklands with pears from Walmart that I attached.
My daughter, Renee, bought this for me for my birthday. :D
Poodle from e-bay

Milk glass was my mom's German doll from my mom, bookstand is a picture stand but I don't remember from where.
Book sitting in bookstand, book from Amazon, Acceptance letter for Master's in History from University of Nebraska-Kearney in the background. :)
I made this little one (There's actually a pair. The mirror image I now have under the pear tree.) I bought the tree from Kirklands, the bow was from a group of bows that were Christmas ornaments from Walmart. The flowers are just the tips that were cut off and hot glued on. They were from The Dollar Tree. The babies breath was from a bouquet of flowers that I received, there is also a little mushroom bird that I bought from JoAnnes.
View from sitting at the computer. Vintage 1960's wedding dress on a hanger, on the wall.
Nightstand was from Bombay & Co.  Books were either given to me, or purchased at garage sales, or used book stores.
George and Martha lamp from e-bay, lampshade was from K-mart, feather topper from Tuesday Morning, vintage cup and saucer from e-bay, clock was a present from the folks at Talent Trek on my last day of work there, the candle and green glass holder from Michaels (the dollar bin), the calendar was a gift from my Secret Santa about seven years ago, book from Paperbackswap.com, the perfume I stole from Renee because it looked pretty.
 Just a swivel difference. I matted and framed a vintage 1980's shoulder collar (Anyone remember those?) Mismatching candleabras that I purchased years apart and painted and decorated to match, plant stolen from someone's garbage at the street (gasp!) 
Another 80's lace collar that I framed. Clothes hamper from Linens & Things when they went out of business. Jewelry holder, I don't remember. Jewelry was all gifts, vintage lace collar on desk, antique leather gloves were a gift from my friend, Andrea Kleppe.
Antique water pitcher in back was my grandmother's mother's, Barbies were all Christmas presents, vintage book shelf my uncle made for my mother that I stole years ago, 1960's wedding dress on a dress form that I purchased from House Goods, hat was a Christmas present from Renee last year. In fact, most of the books on the shelf were presents from Renee over the years. Clothes are mostly Liz Claiborne (so just nice, but not fancy, so don't bother asking to borrow.) And, don't judge the mess because I still don't have places to put everything.
Close up of drape and valance 


Looking up
 A pillow made from a chenille bedspread that I loved into pieces. I couldn't throw it away!

When I'm standing on my bed.

I tried to get the view outside to show the difference. Didn't work. I have a gully outside my window here. But, apparently, I can't see it!
Updated information with where I got everything because of the personal requests.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"The Country Walk" 18th Century Poetry


The Country Walk

by John Dyer


THE morning's fair ; the lusty sun
With ruddy cheek begins to run,
And early birds, that wing the skies,
Sweetly sing to see him rise.

I am resolv'd, this charming day,
In the open field to stray,
And have no roof above my head,
But that whereon the gods do tread.
Before the yellow barn I see
A beautiful variety 10

Of strutting cocks, advancing stout,
And flirting empty chaff about :
Hens, ducks, and geese, and all their brood,
And turkeys gobbling for their food,
While rustics thrash the wealthy floor, 15

And tempt all to crowd the door.

What a fair face does Nature show !
Augusta ! wipe thy dusty brow ;
A landscape wide salutes my sight
Of shady vales and mountains bright ; 20

And azure heavens I behold,
And clouds of silver and of gold.
And now into the fields I go,
Where thousand flaming flowers glow,

And every neighb'ring hedge I greet, 25
With honey-suckles smelling sweet.
Now o'er the daisy-meads I stray,
And meet with, as I pace my way,
Sweetly shining on the eye,
A riv'let gliding smoothly by, 3

Which shows with what an easy tide
The moments of the happy glide :
Here, finding pleasure after pain,
Sleeping, I see a weary'd swain,
While his full scrip lies open by, 35
That does his healthy food supply.

Happy swain ! sure happier far
Than lofty kings and princes are !
Enjoy sweet sleep, which shuns the crown,
With all its easy beds of down. 4

The sun now shows his noon-tide blaze,
And sheds around me burning rays.
A little onward, and I go
Into the shade that groves bestow,
And on green moss I lay me down, 45

That o'er the root of oak has grown ;
Where all is silent, but some flood,
That sweetly murmurs in the wood ;
But birds that warble in the sprays,
And charm ev'n Silence with their lays. 5

Oh ! pow'rful Silence ! how you reign
In the poet's busy brain !
His num'rous thoughts obey the calls
Of the tuneful water-falls ;

Like moles, whene'er the coast is clear, 55

They rise before thee without fear,
And range in parties here and there.

Some wildly to Parnassus wing,
And view the fair Castalian spring,
Where they behold a lonely well 60

Where now no tuneful Muses dwell,
But now and then a slavish hind
Paddling the troubled pool they find.

Some trace the pleasing paths of joy,
Others the blissful scene destroy, 65

In thorny tracks of sorrow stray,
And pine for Clio far away.
But stay Methinks her lays I hear,
So smooth ! so sweet ! so deep ! so clear !
No, it is not her voice I find ; 70

'Tis but the echo stays behind.

Some meditate Ambition's brow,
And the black gulf that gapes below ;
Some peep in courts, and there they see
The sneaking tribe of Flattery : 75

But, striking to the ear and eye,
A nimble deer comes bounding by !
When rushing from yon rustling spray
It made them vanish all away.

I rouse me up, and on I rove ; 80

'Tis more than time to leave the grove.
The sun declines, the evening breeze
Begins to whisper thro' the trees ;
And as I leave the sylvan gloom,
As to the glare of day I come, 85

An old man's smoky nest I see
Leaning on an aged tree,
Whose willow walls, and furzy brow,
A little garden sway below :

Thro' spreading beds of blooming green, 90

Matted with herbage sweet and clean,
A vein of water limps along,
And makes them ever green and young.

Here he puffs upon his spade,
And digs up cabbage in the shade : 95
His tatter'd rags are sable brown,
His beard and hair are hoary grown ;

The dying sap descends apace,
And leaves a wither'd hand and face.
Up Grongar Hill I labour now, 100

And catch at last his bushy brow.
Oh ! how fresh, how pure, the air !
Let me breathe a little here.
Where am I, Nature ? I descry

Thy magazine before me lie. 105

Temples ! and towns ! and towers ! and woods !
And hills ! and vales ! and fields ! and floods !
Crowding before me, edg'd around
With naked wilds and barren ground.

See, below, the pleasant dome, 1 10

The poet's pride, the poet's home,
Which the sunbeams shine upon
To the even from the dawn.
See her woods, where Echo talks,
Her gardens trim, her terrace walks, U5

Her wildernesses, fragrant brakes,
Her gloomy bow'rs and shining lakes.
Keep, ye Gods ! this humble seat
For ever pleasant, private, neat.

See yonder hill, uprising steep, I20

Above the river slow and deep ;
It looks from hence a pyramid,
Beneath a verdant forest hid ;
On whose high top there rises great
The mighty remnant of a seat, I2 .

An old green tow'r, whose batter'd brow
Frowns upon the vale below.

Look upon that flow'ry plain,
How the sheep surround their swain,
How they crowd to hear his strain ! 130

All careless with his legs across,
Leaning on a bank of moss,
He spends his empty hours at play,
Which fly as light as down away.

And there behold a bloomy mead, . 135

A silver stream, a willow shade,
Beneath the shade a fisher stand,
Who, with the angle in his hand,
Swings the nibbling fry to land.

In blushes the descending sun 140

Kisses the streams, while slow they run ;
And yonder hill remoter grows,
Or dusky clouds do interpose.
The fields are left, the labouring hind
His weary oxen does unbind ; 145

And vocal mountains, as they low,
Re-echo to the vales below ;
The jocund shepherds piping come,
And drive the herd before them home ;
And now begin to light their fires, 150

Which send up smoke in curling spires ;
While with light hearts all homeward tend,
To Aberglasney I descend.

But, oh ! how bless'd would be the day
Did I with Clio pace my way, j^

And not alone and solitary stray.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chateau Chenonceau: The Conqueror

Taylor Speer-Sims
September 21, 2012

Chateau Chenonceau:

 The Conqueror


Part I


The Enlightenment of France brought with it certain ideals. These ideals were the saving grace of the beauteous Chateau Chenonceau. Controlling nature had been a significant movement.[1] The fabulous gardens tamed the countryside. The bridge over the water of the River Cher became a ballroom that took nature into the very depths of the monument. Equality, individualism and usurping the king and aristocrats had also been important.[2] The mulberry orchard provided fruit for the silk worms that showed the rest of the world that France had the capability of producing the richest fabric. The French militia used the ballroom bridge as a road over the River Cher, which created a sense of political power, and personal ownership for the people.[3] These were the real reasons that the Chateau had not been demolished as other symbols of the aristocracy had. Chateau Chenonceau had been saved the ravages of destruction during the French Revolution not because of its intrinsic value of a water crossing, or because the owner’s wife had been nice to the local peasants, but because it was a true representation of Enlightenment ideals.

Background on the Chateau before Le Revolution Francaise

            Ideals of the French monarchy had originated in the Loire Valley. This was “the heart of France.”[4] Kings and Queens of France frolicked here for generations. The Loire was filled with rolling acres filled with abundant farms. This was where the idea of France as a nation had been born.[5] “Part of the land, part of the river”, Chateau Chenonceau became a part of the French landscape.[6]

Chateau Chenonceau had originally been a small tower and mill built on an island in the River Cher.[7] Building of the “Chateau of the Dames” began in 1513 by Katherine Briconnet.[8] Another woman of the manor was Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henry II, who began the building of the bridge over the river. Queen Catherine de Medici conquered her rival, her husband’s mistress Diane, and claimed the chateau upon the King’s death. She was also the woman who enclosed the bridge, and created a ballroom with the river as a backdrop.[9] When Madame Dupin came to be the mistress of the castle, she only used it as a summerhouse, and lived a parvenu life there and in Paris. Monsieur Dupin, a tax collector by profession, allowed his wife the freedom of an opulent society madame.[10]

Entering the Reign of Terror

            When the Terror began, Madame Dupin removed herself from Paris, and fled to her summer home on the River Cher.[11] France began “crumbling into total ruin” and Maximilien Robespierre liked it that way.[12] He believed that “terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe and inflexible.”[13] Paris became living chaos, with other cities following suit. Dupin left the uproar of the city for the gentle country, and so therefore, saved her life in the process.[14]

            A woman of wealth and status having had to run for her life must surely have been   traumatized by such an experience. After all, it had no longer been safe for any person of circumstance in Paris, much less the wife of a tax collector. She must have been exceedingly anxious to get to her country abode where she would not have to worry about the rabble attacking her person. It would have been easy to imagine Madame Dupin murmuring lines of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s famous poem as she made her escape to the country:

Give me great God! Said I, a little farm,

 In summer shady, and in winter warm,

Where a clear spring gives birth to murmuring brooks,

By nature gliding down the mossy rocks.

Not artfully by leaden pipes conveyed,

Or greatly falling in a forced cascade,

Pure and unsullied winding through the shade.

All bounteous Heaven has added to my prayer,

A softer climate and purer air.[15]


            The softer climate of her chateau allowed the Loire Valley to welcome Dupin home into tranquility. Shortly after her arrival, the angry mob mentality filtered its way from Paris through the rest of the country, and the Loire began to fall in with those vibrations. As the nobles had always been landlords and “land, with all the rights, privileges, and powers associated with it, was… still the principal social symbol”, Dupin had once again found herself in a precarious situation. [16]

            This situation included the rampaging mob, but it had also included the ideals of Enlightenment. So, as the French Army advanced to the beauteous Chateau Chenonceau, they found that they could either destroy the castle as instructed, or allow it to stand. The Enlightened professionals decided to not burn the manor, but to keep it as a symbol of Enlightened France. The people saw three main Enlightenment ideals that allowed the palace to be saved from ravagement. One of these ideals had been the ever-popular thought of victory over governmental authoritarianism.[17] Another Enlightenment ideal was the belief in the people having victory over the wealthy aristocrats.[18] A third, and the most basic ideal, was the one of human beings controlling nature.[19]          

Part II

How the Chateau Showed Victory Over Nature

            Controlling nature had been an ideal of the Enlightenment; it had also been a symbol of aristocratic heritage. The estate had four acres that included an orchard, an orangery and an aviary. The orchard and its field held trees of peaches, apricots, strawberries, gooseberries, artichokes, cucumbers and melons.[20] The orangery was a type of orchard that had specifically been cultivated with oranges in an ornamental fashion. Orange trees were not native to France, so the idea of making a fruit tree grow outside of its natural habitat would have been exhilarating. Also, the local people would have wanted to keep some of this fruit as part of their own diet, if at all possible. The aviary was a type of large cage where birds of all kinds had been kept. Birds were meant to fly free, not to be encaged. So, both of these were a way to keep nature confined to the wishes of human beings.

            Humans planted the rest of the gardens on the grounds as well. This chateau had the finest gardens in all of France Not only were there beautiful flowers and shrubbery, but it was a working farm with vegetable gardens and a vineyard. Grapes had been planted by Diane de Poitiers, and have been cultivated successfully ever since. The chateau made the best wine in the region.  Mulberry trees had been planted to produce fruit for the silk worms that had been brought over from the orient. [21] Most farms of the eighteenth century did not show a profit. [22] Chateau Chenonceau had been an exception, and so the point of conquering nature via farming had been a great consolation for the local Enlightened French.

            The chateau conquered nature by its architecture as well as by its land. The building of a bridge over the sublime River Cher implied that mankind did master nature’s elements. Bridges had been around for centuries, including castles using water and bridges as part of their design. Moats had been used as defense mechanisms long before the eighteenth century. The Romantics used water and water frontage as part of the scenery, which offered “visual and perhaps emotional relief”.[23] The difference here was that the “Ch√Ęteau des Dames” had literally conquered a free flowing river, and used it as one of its own ornaments.

            To further the idea of conquering the river, the bridge had been covered and decorated to create a magnificent ballroom. No other castle, manor, or palace in the world had such a fanciful, romantic room. Dancing over water would have been any romantic’s ideal of a charming location. The finest craftsmen from all over Europe had been brought in to work on this masterpiece.[24] The River Cher had no choice but to allow people in the chateau to take control of its air rights.

            The most destructive force of nature throughout time has always been rising river water. This force dared to have had occasion to find its way to the grounds of the commanding structure of the chateau. So, mankind found a way to tame the tide of the river to protect the grounds and building of the “Chateau of the Dames”. Levies, stonewalls, and terraces were built to ensure that the palace was safe from floodwaters. Not only were these river taming devices, they were also ornamental in construction. Fountains with water jets stood betwixt these controlling forces.[25]

A Time of Victory Over Wealth and the Aristocrats

            Agriculture had been the labor of the everyday man, even if the property that they usually had made their living upon had been owned by the wealthy. Plebeians were the husbandmen of the eighteenth century, not the nobles. Burning the castle would have been a blow to the men and women who had created and tended the lovely gardens and orchards. It had been the servants that were the ones that had kept the building shining and in good working order, even if it was the owner’s money that had paid them to do so. Allowing the building to stand had been a testament to their hard work, not that of the nobles. Enlightened French thinkers, such as Voltaire, encouraged farming, so it had certainly been part of the ideology of the time. [26]

Keeping oranges had been a French fashion for quite some time, but King Louis XIV, the Sun King, made it a French passion. The symbolism of the fruit went back to the fact that this had been the Sun King’s own personal insignia. It was, after all, a small sun that was able to be enjoyed by people.[27] Having the general populace take control over the symbol of the French monarchy would have been sweet and delicious! Chenonceau’s orchards had no longer produced the fruit of kings; it was now the fruit of the people that was harvested.

Mulberry trees provided another fruit on the grounds of Chenonceau. These trees had been brought in to supply food for the silk worms. Silk had been called Queen’s cloth, possibly due to its expense.[28] This would have been a perfect way to control supply of the excessively ornate fabric that had once only been permitted to adorn the nobility. Sumptuary laws had been thrown out the door with the new Republic. So, this would be a way that the populace literally showed the nobles that they were their equals. The removal of the old aristocratic ideals of inequality had been a major factor in Enlightened France.[29]

The Ever Popular Victory Over Government

French Revolutionaries at first wanted to follow orders and burn the chateau to the ground. It had been a “symbol of Royal excess” and had a decree of demolition.[30]  Rumor had it that the local priest had averted this act “by the subtle reasoning [that it] would be a disservice to the community to get rid of the only river-crossing between Montrichard and Blere.”[31] While this may, or may not have been true, the idea of parading troops through the aristocratic ballroom would have been something that the Revolutionaries would have adored. The conversion of the bridge into a two-story bridge-gallery with court festival rooms had “symbolized the triumph of the widow [Queen Catherine] over her long-standing rival” Diane. [32] It stood to reason that troopers marching over the marble tiles and through a room where French Kings and Queens had danced would certainly have been a symbol of the people conquering the aristocrats and the monarchical government.[33] Whatever their thought, it was lucky enough for Madame Dupin that troopers had been easily swayed to the charm of the estate.[34]

The farm income of Chenonceau had been in a state of profit during the monarchy, and because it was still profitable after the region fell to the Revolutionaries, this would still have been income for the locals. If the palace and its grounds had been destroyed, many men, women, and children would have been without jobs. At the very least, they would have lost the pride of name. Chenonceau had sold its wine and silk throughout Europe.[35] Losing a brand name would most probably have dropped the price of its products, and therefore lowered profit.

Produce from Chenonceau was also most probably a matter of pride for the locals that had worked the farms. Another rumor had it that Madame Dupin had always been kind to everyone.[36] Perhaps these people felt a sense of relationship with the lady aristocrat because of her affection to the local peasants and workers. They could have also felt a sense of ownership because of their hard labor. Many people did not like their work destroyed, even if it technically belonged to another. This was not true of everyone, of course, but it still would have been a possibility. Individualism was a point of Enlightenment that personal ownership would have fallen into.


It certainly can be argued that Chateau Chenonceau had been spared destruction because of its beauty, its crossing locale, and even its generous owner, Madame Dupin. These reasons may certainly have been true. However, it was also true that the chateau had held ideals of Enlightenment. The “Chateau of the Dames” held three main Enlightenment ideals. The first was that humanity-controlled nature by its lavish formal and vegetable gardens, the enclosed bridge-ballroom over the River Cher, and the beautiful terraces that had been built high enough to stop a flood. A second point of Enlightenment was the sense of equality by the removal of the old aristocratic ideals. The local people around Chateau Chenonceau held this ideal by making the orangery a subject of the people instead of a symbol of the crown. Individualism, instead of allowing the crown to control one’s life, had been shown by the Revolutionaries trampling through the ballroom to cross the river exactly where monarchs of the past had danced. Peasant loyalty, and a sense of personal ownership due to hard work by the locals in the creation and upkeep of the palace grounds and buildings were other indications of individualism. Chateau Chenonceau was not saved from burning to the ground because of the value of the river crossing, nor was it Madame’s niceties to the locals. It was the values of the French Enlightenment that Chateau Chenonceau embodied that allowed the palace to remain intact, and to remain as beautiful as ever.

[1] Daniel Roche,  France in the Enlightenment, trans. Arthur Goldhammer. (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2000.), 54.
[2] Ibid, 290, 297.
[3] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chambord”,  by Mary Ellen Iwata
and Tom Okkerse for The Learning Channel. 1993; Bethesda, MD: Discovery Communications Home Video, 1994.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”,  by Mary Ellen Iwata
and Tom Okkerse for The Learning Channel. 1993; Bethesda, MD: Discovery Communications Home Video, 1994.
[7] Ibid.
[8]  The Castle”. Chenonceau. N.d. http://www.chenonceau.com/en/le-chateau. Accessed
August 26, 2012.
[9] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”. 
[10] Ibid.
[11] ibid.
[12] “French Revolution: The Terror”. Uploaded by phoenixfilmandvideo. (October 7, 2008.) Youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYLnzAtQoTk. (accessed September 21, 2012).
[13] Maximilien Robespierre. (1794.) quoted in “The Reign of Terror” (2008.) HistoryWiz. http://www.historywiz.com/terror.htm. (accessed September 21, 2012).
[14] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”, 
[15] Mary Wortley Montagu,  “Verses.” (1718.) The Penguin Book of Eighteenth-Century English Verse. Ed. Dennis Davison. (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1973.), 146.
[16] Roche, 412.
[17] Ibid, 289.
[18] Ibid, 290, 297.
[19] Ibid, 54.
[20] Michael of Kent, Her Royal Highness Princess. The Serpent and the Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King. (New York: Touchstone, Cantium Services, 2004.),  242.
[21] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”. 
[22] Paul Leland Haworth, George Washington: Farmer. (1915), location 2616. Kindle Edition.
[23] Marian Moffett, Michael Fazio and Lawrence Wodehouse. Buildings Across Time: An Introduction to World Architecture. (New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2004.) 397.
[24] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”.  
[25] Kent, 242.
[26] Roche, 414.
[27] Taylor Speer-Sims. “Politics of Versailles.” Research paper for class. (West Virginia: American Military University, March 2012.), 2-3.
[28] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”. 
[29] Roche, 290, 297.
[30] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”. 
[31] Phillippe Barbour. Loire, 4th ed. (Northhampton, MA: Interlink Publishing Group, 2010.), 228.
[32] Chateaux of the Loire. Trans. Isabel Varea. (London: Tauris Parke Books, 1997.), 146.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”. 
[35] Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”. 
[36] Ibid.


 Barbour, Phillippe, Loire, 4th ed. Northhampton, MA: Interlink Publishing Group, 2010.
 “Castle, The”. Chenonceau. N.d. http://www.chenonceau.com/en/le-chateau. Accessed August 26, 2012.
Chateaux of the Loire. Trans. Isabel Varea. London: Tauris Parke Books, 1997.
“French Revolution: The Terror”. Uploaded by phoenixfilmandvideo. (October 7, 2008.)
Youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYLnzAtQoTk. (accessed September 21, 2012).
Great Castles of Europe: Volume 1, France and Spain, “Chenonceau”,  by Mary Ellen Iwata
and Tom Okkerse for The Learning Channel. 1993; Bethesda, MD: Discovery Communications Home Video, 1994.
---- “Chambord”,  by Mary Ellen Iwata and Tom Okkerse for The Learning Channel. 1993;
Bethesda, MD: Discovery Communications Home Video, 1994. 

Haworth, Paul Leland. George Washington: Farmer. 1915. Kindle Edition. 

Michael of Kent, Her Royal Highness Princess. The Serpent and the Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King. (New York: Touchstone, Cantium Services, 2004. 

Moffett, Marian, Michael Fazio and Lawrence Wodehouse. Buildings Across Time: An
Introduction to World Architecture. (New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2004. 

Montagu, Mary Wortley. “Verses.” 1718. The Penguin Book of Eighteenth-Century English
Verse. Ed. Dennis Davison. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1973. 

Robespierre, Maximilien. 1794. Quoted in “The Reign of Terror” 2008. HistoryWiz.
http://www.historywiz.com/terror.htm. (accessed September 21, 2012). 

Roche, Daniel.  France in the Enlightenment, trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Boston: Harvard
University Press, 2000. 

Speer-Sims, Taylor. “Politics of Versailles.” Research paper for class. West Virginia:
American Military University, March 2012.
Originally written for class at American Military University.


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