Sunday, February 21, 2010

From Palace to Prison

Catherine Delors gives a brief history of the Conciergerie.
The medieval origin of the building is obvious from the architecture of the towers. Indeed in the Middle Ages, this was the royal palace, the Palais de la Cité, after the island of the same name in the middle of the Seine River. It was home to King Louis IX, later Saint-Louis, who had the jewel-like Sainte-Chapelle built within its grounds.

It was also the seat of his grandson King Philippe IV le Bel, who put an end to the worldly (but not literary) existence of the Friar Templars. We owe Philippe the magnificent Salle des Gens d'Armes (Hall of the Men in Arms), one of the most impressive examples of lay Gothic architecture still in existence (left.)

But in the course of the 14th century, French Kings abandoned the Palace of the Cité, which, though no longer a royal residence, retained administrative functions, such as the Treasury. It became the seat of the Parliament of Paris, the highest court of justice in and around Paris until the Revolution. (Read More.)


Muse in the Fog said...

I always think it so interesting when a Palace is turned into a prison.

Catherine Delors said...

Many thanks for the link, Elena!

Muse, the palace-to-prison story was not uncommon during the Revolution: it happened to the Luxembourg too. La Force was a former mansion too...