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As promised last week, the photos of the CHATEAU DE FENELON are below. Unfortunately, the inside was too dark for my simple camera and flash was not allowed. I am enclosing the Dordogne travel website as well, so readers can further explore this rustic and peaceful area in France.
The website explains that this castle was originally built in the 13th century; the castle was a stronghold of the Cathar during the 12th and 13th century. The current form is a restoration from the 16th century with more fortifications added in the 15th century. It was an important period of strive about religion in France then (Wikipedia).
The Cathar were followers of a Christian movement that existed between the 12th and the 14th centuries. They self identified as “Good Christians”. They believed in the duality of God, as being one force: the god that is a force for good as embodied in the New Testament of the Bible, and the bad god as personified in the devil or satan, being the force for evil that they associated with the Old Testament of the Bible. (The embodiment of good and evil as two options within the same person or god is a lot like how Hinduism sees god and the principle of all humans. This principle is also displayed in the ancient Balinese figure of the Barong, the embodiment of good and evil in the ancient Balinese dances). So the Cathar were certainly not alone in their thinking.
This Cathar movement existed in southern France, in Spain (Catalonia) and northern Italy and was seen as a heretic religion by the reigning pope. The Cathar believed that the Roman Catholic religion of the time and the Catholic practices were from satan and renounced the Catholic church altogether as being the Church of satan.
The pope of the time (Pope Innocent III) sent a papal legate to negotiate a peace and the sending of missionaries to the Cathar, who were hidden in their fortified castles resisting the actions against them for heresy, such as possibly the burnings on the stake–the custom of the time for dealing with heretics. The ambassador of the pope, Pierre de Castelnau, was killed on his way home in 1208 by the Cathar and thus an outright war followed: the Albigensian Crusade.
If you thought European crusades were always against the Muslims (Mores), you’d be wrong. I bet you that most murders in the name of the Catholic church and the “true religion” were perpetrated on other Christians.
The CHATEAU DE FENELON is now a museum full of artefacts and art treasures, such as some beautiful tapestries. The contents show the mix of items from successive periods in its history; of each period some examples of furniture and art are displayed. It also shows how the last inhabitants lived. Once can sense what it must have been like with only a bit of imagination: it becomes quite clear what life as a member of the French aristocracy must have been like. In times of siege, the water came right from inside the castle through a deep well underneath the castle supplemented by a large basin in the most outside wall that collected rain water from within its walls.
Triple walls surround the inner living quarters, with layers of defence systems and towers containing soldiers at each corner. Before any attackers could get to the inner sanctum and the nobility living there at the time, they had to fight the defence forces first. The castle of course like all other big estates has its own chapel. Until the reformation, all of France was Roman Catholic, with pockets here and there of sects, such as the Cathar.
For movie buffs it might be interesting to know that the move “Forever After” with Drew Barrymore was filmed in this castle and in a nearby castle CHATEAU HAUTEFORT in 1998. The castle is near the village of Mondane.
Videos that truly give a great impression of that castle and of the CHATEAU DE FENELON can be seen on u-Tube accompanied by classical music.
My friend was on her way to choir practice in the church of Mondane prior to a concert, as a member of the local choir. While she met with her choir, I walked towards the Castle, a short walk up the hill just out of town. It was a great little walk, nobody else apparently felt like walking at that time of the day (midday) and only one or two cars passed me on the way to the castle.
After the concert we all had refreshments: cake and lemonade.
Jeanne D’Arc obviously is revered in these parts as a saint.
More modern signs of resistance can be found as well. Currently, France is in uproar for political-economic reasons that affect all of the European Community and the world at large, with a recession and a period of austerity measures by various governments within the EU in an attempt to address the economic downturn and vast deficits, so vast that whole nations threaten to go bankrupt.
Although I flew in by air, I left for Amsterdam with my friends by car, at the end of their summer season at their vacation home in Degagnac. We had no centimetre of spare space left when all packing was done. We travelled with the family pets–a cat and a dog. Of course, the dog did not want to come in the car, as she understood she was also having to leave; she gave us a hard time catching her.
Then we stopped for our last meal in the evening at a lovely place and I forgot what city this was. Will have to keep notes next time!
Back in Amsterdam on my way to a visit to another friend in the city, I passed this cafe, with my name on it, literally!