Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2.

A proof of the antiquity of the fortifications may perhaps be found in the name of the tower called la Tour Guillaume le Roi, which stands immediately behind St. Peter’s, and was intended to protect the river at the extremity of the walls, dividing the town from the suburb of Vaugeux.  This tower is generally supposed to be the oldest in the fortifications.  Its masonry is similar to that of the wall with which it is connected, and which is known to have been built about the same time as the abbey of St. Stephen.  The appearance of it is plain, massy, and rugged; and it forms a picturesque object.  Such also is the Tour au Massacre, which is situated at the confluence of the Orne and Odon.  The tower in question is said to have received its gloomy title from a massacre, of which our countrymen were guilty, at the time when the town was taken in 1346.  There is, however, reason to believe that this tale is a mere fiction.  Huet, at the same time that he does not venture so far to oppose popular belief, as altogether to deny the truth of the story of the massacre, adds, that the original name of the tower was la Tour Machart, and suspects its present appellation to be no more than a corruption of the former one.  Renauld Machart was bailiff of Caen two years prior to the capture of the place by Edward IIIrd; and the probability is, that the tower was erected by him in those times of alarm, and thus took his name.  It has been supposed that the figure sculptured upon it, may also be intended for a representation of Machart himself.

Caen contains another castellated building, which might easily mislead the studious antiquarian.  The Chateau de Calix, as it is sometimes called, is situated at the extremity of the suburb known by that name; and the curious inhabitants of Caen usually suppose that it was erected for the purpose of commanding the river, whilst it flowed in its ancient, but now deserted, bed; or, at least, that it replaces such a fortification.  According to the learned Abbe de la Rue, however, and he is a most competent authority, no real fortification ever existed here; but the castle was raised in conformity to the caprice of Girard de Nollent, the wealthy owner of the property, who flourished towards the beginning of the sixteenth century.—­Girard de Nollent’s mansion is now occupied by a farmer.  It has four fronts.  The windows are square-headed, and surrounded by elegant mouldings; but the mullions have been destroyed.  One medallion yet remains over the entrance; and it is probable that the walls were originally covered with ornaments of this kind.  Such, at least, is the case with the towers and walls, which, surrounding the dwelling, have given it a castellated aspect.  The circular tower nearest the gate forms the subject of the accompanying sketch:  it is dotted on all sides with busts in basso-relievo, enclosed in medallions, and of great diversity of character.  One is a frowning warrior, arrayed in the helmet of

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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