This hôtel-Dieu (″general hospital″) is the most well-preserved one in Europe! In the 11th century, we already found a hospital here, next to the church of Our-Lady. But it was too small.
Marguerite of Burgundy, queen of Jerusalem, of Naples and Sicily, Charles d’Anjou’s widow, king saint Louis’ sister-in-law, decided to give a brand new building to Tonnerre!
So, she bought a plot of land in 1293. She raised her own house next to this hospital, so she could keep an eye on it. When she died, in 1308, buildings were raised. The foundation charter put the hospital under the direct protection of kings and pope!
So it was autonomous and richly endowed. Wars and plundering damaged it, epidemics too (especially the plague in 1562 and 1570)… Gossip said that emperor Charles the Fifth’s ambassador came here and declared war on king of France François I, in 1542!
The hospital wasn’t altered. Only the Western façade dates back to the 18th century. The big room is 90 metres long, 19 wide and 25 metres high! We have a nice oak framework. Guess what we found here, in the past?
Yes… sick persons’ beds! Nested in wooden alcoves, patients could attend the Mass (which took place in a chapel at the bottom of the room)… Below the beds, a kind of mezzanine, where nuns kept an eye on them. In 1650, the big room was secularized and transformed into a church under the name of Notre-Dame-des-Fontenilles.