Thursday, May 16, 2013

Aigues Mortes, Festival of Saint Louis. Who is the Real King Louis IX,

Who is, was, the King?  The figure in stories that followed events?  Or a verifiable, documented sort of individual whose reputation is closely tied to fact, not later adulation or horror. Meet King Louis IX, France, at a time of fluid boundaries, no city built yet (as of the 1200's) as a port on the Mediterranean.

King Louis was the first French king to establish a port on the Mediterranean, surrounded as the area was in 1240 by other powers.  He established Aigues Mortes, built canals to Montpellier and elsewhere, and the launched Crusades from it in 1248 and 1270. The water king?  He was a negotiator, letting pass France's claims to Barcelona and Roussilion, in exchange for Spain letting pass its claims to Provence and Languedoc. And other claims in the north of France were adjusted between France and Henry of England, see  A reformer, he is known as Saint Louis.

He also fought in two, failed, Crusades.  The ships carrying Crusaders from Aigues Mortes show a galley arrangement of oars.

The waters have silted in by now, but collapsed structures restored, and embarkation city now celebrates -- like the days-long Festival of Saint Louis.
1.  The King and Pope Gregory IX, through the eyes of the Crusader:  Crusaders went off to occupy a distant Holy Land with assurances that their sins would be forgiven, and it is no sin to kill an evildoer, an unbeliever.

This Crusader probably never met or saw King Louis IX.  He also got a ticket to possible plunder, and paying off his own debtors, get away from whatever, and get eternal life in thanks. The Crusades, trying to force conversions on pain of death, failed miserably in the Holy Land; but did succeed in Europe where Inquisitions and Crusades (the Northern Crusades and other) did indeed drive ethnic groups into virtual extinction if they did not agree with those with the sword.

The real King Louis IX -- the one of imagination, a man like others but he who can make no mistakes. History:  imagination applied to recollected, and sometimes documented, events, so as to support the ones already in power and seeking more.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Aigues-Mortes Real Estate Sale. Solve your Financial Puzzle

Castle and Vineyard For Sale
With Accoutrements

A 2014 update, posted now back with earlier Aigues Mortes. This week's real estate puzzle award -- put together your own finances -- goes to The Financial Times May 17-18, 2014, for its inclusion of this Sotheby's property at Aigues-Mortes. This cozy property offers so much for all of us seeking amenable climate, ambiance, a nice buzz.

This is indeed a wine estate.  It is said to date from the 17th Century.  The castle property encompasses 3000 square meters, or some 32,391 sq. ft. and there are ten suites and 7 hectares (say, 17.3 miles) now serving at happy hour as vineyards.  Oh, and outbuildings.  There is tennis, a movie, indoor pool that boasts its own spa, and a pool outdoors that is heated.

Price on request, says Sotheby's. From England, call at +33 (0) 4675 73410, and ...

Non!  Non!  Go to the site and find the ad no longer available online!  See

We wanted to find out its specific  history.  Now to call off our ow financial advisor .... quelle dommage ... You have them on the line, you say? [robo-response at]


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Aigues Mortes. Crusaders and King Louis IX, Provence

Dead Water

In days of navigation primacy, dead water could be a good thing:  quiet place to anchor, load, unload, take a dip.  Nice harbor, so long as there is enough tidal circulation for sludge.

To find some Dead Water, after Beziers, zip through Montpelier.  Take only a brief cafe stop there (nice university town, but repetitious for the South of France as to old towns).  Aim for a different phase of history, instead: France and the Crusades;  from what ports did they launch.  Aigues-Mortes is off the regular tourist route, but not to be missed if you venture into an interest in history, preserved and also rebuilt..  

Aigues Mortes:  Dead Waters, for the salt water marshes of this area, the Camargue, some stagnant, others flow enough to refresh.  See Be sure your gas tank is filled, because on Sundays you may find limited access, and some gas cards do not work without an attendant there and attendants do not work on Sundays. Our solution:  stay put, at the station, wait for a nice car, have your cash handy, and ask if you can use that nice person's card to put in exactly the cash you have.  They usually will.  What else to do except wait for Monday?  And you with no gas to find a hotel, perhaps.

But what flag is this, at the main gate.  The Aigues Mortes flag shows a cross with diamond shapes and dots at the end points.  See This instead is more of a red and white sunburst with an overlay of what, aqueduct pilings in blue?  King Louis built Aigues Mortes, the town, for his launching of his crusade in 1240, and it was also used for the wool trade to Italy.  See Ecclesiastical Authority and Spiritual Power, Google Book at p.288; then the great fairs of the day moved north to Flanders, and the Rhone, and Aigues Mortes fell away. 

The fickle waters soon silted up as well. Now it is its own family destination point, with a fine festival honoring King Louis and his crusade.

The long history includes multiple imprisonments.  Was Richard the Lionheart held here for a time? See . No.  Richard died in 1199. See  

Family names, and Crusades at home and abroad:  Louis married the daughter of Raymond Berenger, a Count of Provence.  That name, Berenger, is renowned in Catalonia, with several of the Raymonds buried at Ripoll, Spain; and the name recurs in the mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau. There, in the 19th Century, a priest of that name apparently obtained access to a vast fortune related, perhaps to the Albigensian Crusade that was finally terminated in about 1244; and clues abound also of renown.  Someone follow the dots.

This site says that Louis IX launched a second crusade in 1270 from Aigues Mortes, see .  The ships carrying crusaders would have looked like this.  Note the flag represented there, and the trireme design, of oarsmen.  Did the crusaders themselves row the boat?

Towers were put to various uses, an old one of King Louis where Protestants were imprisoned in 1686, having been replaced in 1242 by this Tower of Constance, see

It served as multi-purpose structure, as a warehouse for munitions and stores, and a prison.

See how the water has receded.

Inside the tower, a central open area on each floor, one barred with a grill, allows views all the way down.  The slanted structure on the right is a fireplace.