From Louviers our next stage was Gaillon, on our road to which we passed some vineyards, the most northern, I believe, in Normandy. The vines cultivated in them are all of the small black cluster grape; and the wine they produce, I am told, is of very inferior quality,—No place can appear at present more poverty-stricken than Gaillon; but the case was far otherwise before the glories of royal and ecclesiastical France were shorn by the revolution. Ducarel, who visited this town about the year 1760, dwells with great pleasure upon the magnificence of its palace and its Carthusian convent and church. Of the palace the remains are still considerable; and, after having been suffered to lie in a state of ruin and neglect from an early period in the revolution, they are now fitting up as a prison. The long inscription formerly over the gate might with great propriety be replaced by the hacknied phrase, “Sic transit gloria mundi;” for the vicissitudes of the fortune of noble buildings are strikingly illustrated by the changes experienced by this sumptuous edifice, long proverbial throughput France for its splendor.
Philip Augustus conferred the lordship of Gaillon upon one of his captains of the name of Cadoc, as a reward for his activity in the conquest of Normandy. Louis IXth afterwards, early in the thirteenth century, ceded the town in perpetuity to the Archbishop of Rouen. St. Louis here received by way of exchange the Chateau of Pinterville, which he bestowed upon William d’Aubergenville, whose uncle, the Bishop of Evreux, had, while chancellor of France, done much service to him and to Queen Blanche, his mother. From that time to the revolution the archbishops had their country seat at Gaillon, and enjoyed the sole right of trying civil and criminal causes within the town and its liberties. Their palace, which was destroyed during the wars of Henry Vth, in 1423, was rebuilt about a century afterwards by the munificence of the first cardinal Georges d’Amboise, one of whose successors in the prelacy, Colbert, expended,