Thursday, August 22, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 104

 Poitiers -- Palais de Justice – Tour Maubergon


The postcard shows only a portion of the Palais de Justice or Palace of Justice in Poitiers, France.  Located on the highest spot in the town originally the palace was constructed or reconstructed in the 9th century above an already existing Roman wall for Louis the Pious the son of Charlemagne when the Merovingian kingdom of Aquitaine was re-established.  That building was destroyed by fire in 1018.  It was completely rebuilt by the Count-Dukes of Aquitaine when they were at the pinnacle of their power.  Count William IX added the donjon or fortified castle tower known as the tour Maubergeon in 1104.  The keep, which was substantially damaged by fire in 1346, has four smaller square towers projecting from the corners.

Eleanor of Aquitaine added the Salle des Pas Perdus or hall of lost footsteps as a dining hall between 1191 and 1204.  Named thus because of its size, 50 meters or about 164 feet long by 17 meters or 55 feet wide, a footfall was silenced by the vastness.  It is perhaps the largest hall in contemporary Europe.  Unfortunately the hall has not retained its original beamed ceiling but has been covered by chestnut woodwork constructed in 1862.  The walls have been daubed and painted to look like stone. 

My French friend who sent this card wrote that it was in this room that the king dispensed justice.  The hall was renamed la salle du Roi or the royal hall.  Le parlement royal sat there from 1418 to 1436.  There are three large fireplaces or ovens in a row at one end of the room, each one large enough to cook an entire cow. 

During the French Revolution parts of the building including statues were vandalized.  Although it may be difficult to see, evidence of this can be noted on the postcard.  The middle statue at the roof line on the right side of the building has had the head removed.

The postcard is dated 20 September 1904 and the stamp is placed on the picture side but the card has been cancelled on both sides.  One cancellation mark is on the address side of the card in the place where one would expect a stamp to be normally affixed and the other cancellation mark is on the stamp itself.  The message says "Thank you, a thousand kisses."  Maurice.  It is addressed to a military Captain and leaves us with the mystery of what this close friend or relative may have done.  Another interesting thing is the notation that the postage is good for France, Algeria and Tunisia.  In 1904 both Algeria and Tunisia would have been under French rule, subject to French taxes, and men conscripted into French military service.  Tunisia was a French protectorate from 1881 to 1956.  French Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962.

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Thank you to my friend as always for sending the card and letter.

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