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Monday, January 11, 2010

Clos Lucé: The Home of Leonardo da Vinci

The town of Amboise was the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. A chapel within the grounds of Château (castle) Amboise holds his remains. The domain of Clos Lucé is a short 10 minute walk from the castle entrance.

The interior of Clos Lucé is set up to reflect the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci... but the domain of Clos Lucé has a far longer history.

In the middle ages, King Francis I felt a little peckish in the night. He scooted down to the kitchens unceremoniously in his pyjamas and poked around for a bite to eat. A bright and cheeky little 14 year old kitchen assistant by the name of Etienne le Loup (Etienne the Wolf) caught his attention. The king asked Etienne how much he earned. Etienne had never seen the king and so didn't know who this impudent question came from. Etienne responded "I earn as much as the king". Further intrigued, the king asked for an explanation, and Etienne replied "I, like my king, earn as much as I deserve".

Etienne le Loup later rose to become the Lord Overseer of the king's extensive lands in Amboise and the surrounding villages. He built Clos Lucé as a fortified castle to show that he had arrived. However, the fortifications of Clos Lucé comprised a cannon that he used to intimidate the locals. The king didn't like that at all and Etienne later fell from royal favour.

Clos Lucé then became the property of the crown, and a very well-loved Queen later made it her home. A short cut was created between the Castle Amboise and Clos Lucé in order that the royal children could easily move from their father's quarters to their mother's lodgings. This short cut no longer exists so you do have to walk 10 minutes to get from one to another. At Clos Lucé today, only the chapel is dedicated to this Queen of France (Queen Anne of Brittany) because she built the chapel and spent much time there in prayer.

Clos Lucé has beautiful gardens. Many of da Vinci's inventions are showcased within the gardens. There are ponds and wild life. We saw pair after pair of wild ducks. The female in dull brown but the male with bright green necks and yellow beaks. They mate for life and paddle everywhere in pairs. Like girlfriend and boyfriend holding hands. There is lush greenery even in December.

I walked in the gardens for 2 hours but spent 30 minutes in the house. I was most intrigued by the dovecote below built for housing pigeons. In the days before refrigeration, a dovecote meant fresh meat and eggs right through winter. Pigeon poo was a sought after fertiliser and could be sold for a handsome profit. Only the very richest people owned dovecotes. Etienne Le Loup built the one below that could house a few hundred mating pairs.

1 comment:

Blur Ting said...

Thanks for the interesting stories. I do enjoy them :-)