Louis d'Orléans Murdered

photo: rue du tresor

The aptly-named Rue du Trésor - is actually
quite lively at times.

'Fearless' Jean Skips Town

Paris:- Wednesday, 24. November 1999:- After the poster hunt and the 'strike of the day' this morning, I have decided to track down Paris' Christmas program this afternoon.

I have the four-color printed version of '2000 In Paris' brochure, but this does not contain mundane details, such as the times for the seasonal midnight masses. Well, they are at midnight, but you might want to know where they are - or some other details.

The Ville de Paris has a cultural office in the Marais and I whiz to this on the métro. Notphoto: impasse des arbaletriers to it, but close to it. As soon as I get on the street, I start remembering things from the 'Scene' column as I walk along.

Hey! I think; I should go in here and get a photo to go with - x, y, z item - 'No!' I tell myself. If I start doing this I will not get where I'm going; then I'll have to come back.

Try and find the feudal Impasse des Arbalétriers on your map.

There is nothing wrong with coming back; but now I've got the camera with the 50-shot capacity I can get a lot of 'utility' and 'found' photos on an errand like this - maybe even enough for an 'accidental' feature - so, in all likelihood, I won't be in the same neighborhood again for a while.

I get my stuff quickly and the other office I want to visit is closed. A little further along the Rue des Francs Bourgeois, I remember there is a Swiss cultural office in a shopfront. I get a good haul from it.

Next to it is the Impasse des Arbalétriers. It has a Ville de Paris historical marker beside it. Too bad I don't read it.

For things important enough to have these historical markers, I most likely have something in my own archives. But - the Impasse des Arbalétriers is not on my Paris street map and it is not in my dictionary of Paris streets. This is rare.

The Impasse des Arbalétriers is really here, opening off number 38. Rue des Francs Bourgeois - opposite the Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais.

According to a previously unused source I have, it was a second entrance to the Hôtel Barbette, which is no longer with us. This townhouse was the residence of Isabeau of Bavaria, at the beginning of the 14th century.

Historians think the Impasse des Arbalétriers was the location of the murder of Louis d'Orléansphoto: boulangerie, patisserie on 23. November 1407. Louis was Charles VI's brother and no friend of Jean sans Peur - 'Fearless' Jean - who hired some hitmen to bump Louis off.

A source of almond croissants in the Marais.

Now, if you have been paying attention, Jean sans Peur's tower has recently reopened at 20. Rue Etienne-Marcel. The Duke of Burgundy - 'Fearless' Jean - inherited this feudal pile early in the century, and this is where he holed up - after fortifying it - after having Louis snuffed.

This killing sparked an uncivil war between the Armagnacs and the Bourguignons - kind of like Coke against Pepsi - but with Charles VI going nuts in 1392, and with bad advice to boot - which handed the whole caboodle to the Brits - ah! - after their longbows produced victory for them at Agincourt in 1415, which they never let the French forget.

At the time, the French preferred Genoese-model crossbows; and this is where the name for this Impasse - it is not actually one - comes from. Isabeau's crossbow guys used this shortcut to get to their training field.

On the British side, the longbow was favored because it had longer range and three times the rate of fire. Actually, longbows were cheaper than crossbows, and it was lucky for the Brits that they couldn't afford the fancier weapons.

Knights on both sides had to have their armor built-up in consequence - so if one of them was packing the customary 60 kilos of it, it was sufficient to simply knock him over and hold him for ransom. The arrows were saved for the unarmored footmen.

Apparently Louis l'Orléans was no angel - 'seductive, ostentatious, depraved' - and his sister-in-law, the 'seductive' Isabeau was no nun either. Charles VI went off his rockerphoto: shop, rue des rosiers for good in August 1392 on a trip to Brittany; although he continued to nominally rule until 1422.

So the coast was clear for 'Fearless' Jean to return to Paris in 1408 and he got the murder charge against him reduced to one of 'getting rid of a corrupt tyrant.' Then he picked up the marbles and the Paris establishment supported him until he had to skip town again in 1413.

In the Rue des Rosiers.

It was a bad time - if the good guys or the bad guys didn't get you, the tax-collectors would and if they didn't, it was probably because you had succumbed to either famine or the plague or both. Afterwards, as the historian says, 'a lamentable period followed.'

This is quite a bit to get out of an alley that isn't marked on the map. I wander down the Rue des Hospitalières Saint-Gervais and look at the Jewish school behind the marché of the Blancs-Manteaux; which I also look at.

This is a community sports and cultural centre and has a lot going on in it all the time. If you are in the Rue Vieille-du-Temple, give it a look.

It is nearly dark when I am in the Ruephoto: resto chez marianne des Rosiers and I am getting hungry. After taking a twilight photo of the boulangerie-patisserie I go in it and buy an almond-covered croissant, which is good if a bit chewy.

More food is available at Chez Marianne inthe Marais.

I wander back out along the Rue des Rosiers and cut down to Rivoli to try and catch the Hôtel de Ville's reception office open, to see their '2100 In Paris' exhibition, but it is closed before its closing time.

Despite this morning's strikes and demonstrations, I walk over to where the buses are, and take the number 38 across the Ile-de-la-Cité and up the Boulevard Saint-Michel, to the un-feudal 14th.

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