DISCLAIMER: I know there are grammar and spelling mistakes in my posts. I know I have students following my journey and I want to include them as much as possible. I will edit accordingly AFTER my trip.
Lavardin is a quiet town that has generally remained off the beaten track; it was also the setting for one of two of the Plantagenet family members. In my last blog, I mentioned that Eleanor and Louis arranged to have their marriage annulled. Eleanor set off for home knowing she needed a plan. It would be a matter of months before Louis would hand her over in marriage to one of his lords to form a strong alliance. Eleanor knew her happiness would not be a factor in his decision making process. Eleanor also knew that, having held the power of a queen, she would not be able to step down into a quiet life.
Eleanor’s best plan was to secretly marry Henry. The long story short: Henry was fighting to become the king of England and Normandy. He was winning. The fact that he was only 18 to her 29 years was not important. I like to think the fact that Henry was perhaps one of Louis’ greatest enemies and a threat to the French throne gave her a bit of pleasure.
You can imagine the rage that Louis felt when learning that his ex-wife married his enemy and was blessed by God with not only three daughters but five sons!
What does that have to do with my post? Both Henry II, Eleanor’s second husband, and her favorite son Richard, were unable to take over this castle. Both held this castle under siege and had to turn away. That meant I could walk around this castle and perhaps stand in the same spots as one of my kings!
I read that in years past, one could climb up the hills and explore the ruins. Unfortunately there is now a fence. Raven and I did go exploring and we found a series of caves at the bottom of the castle. It turns out that the French Resistance used these caves to smuggle goods and people to safety during World War Two! There is a small museum in town dedicated to telling this story.
Also in the town of Lavardin is a religious gem. The church is named Saint Genest de Lavardin. The church was built before 1100 (meaning that there was a chance my monarchs walked though its doors!) and had frescoes adorning the walls. It was absolutely breathtaking to trace the paintings with my eyes and imagine the artists quietly working away.
You can click HERE to see a short video I took while in the church.
I am happy to also say that I had my first conversation in French with someone from the village! We did not solve the problems of the world, but it was though this friendly face that I learned about the fence around the castle as well as the age of the murals. Although we talked for less than two minutes, I was so proud of myself for remembering some basic conversational skills from high school!
I hope to make my close friends laugh with this next picture. Since I am doubtful of the invention of a time machine in the near future, the closest I can get to the shadows of the past is to touch the items they handled. For that reason, I own several medieval and Roman coins. I joked with my friends that I would be touching all that I could get my hands on. Here is a photo with my hands on the castle that Henry and Richard failed to take.
For a last video, if you want to see the exterior of the church and the castle in the background, click HERE.
Finally, I want to dedicate this post to a an amazing person. While in the church, I lit two candles: one for my grandmothers and the other for Raven’s father. The third candle was lit by Raven. She lost a close friend a couple of weeks ago in a car accident. So, I dedicate this post to the amazing memories that Abe gave his family and friends. I know he is not Catholic but the flame burned for him nonetheless.