Meung: one Maid, bishops, and Villon locked on dry bread and water

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The castle - ©Manfred Heyde / CC-BY-SA The castle - ©Manfred Heyde / CC-BY-SA
Meung-sur-Loire castle Castle Castle of the Loire Valley Imprisonment Joan of Arc François Villon

A Maid and bishops

Here we are on the place du Martroi: in front of us, the castle of Meung! It used to be the summer estate of bishops of Orléans. But in the beginning, we had here a big stronghold destroyed by the Vandals in the 5th century. Later, in 550, saint Liphard came with hermits and founded a monastery. In 1429, Joan of Arc, passing by Meung, attacked the English who occupied the place after the raising of Orléans’ siege.

The first building was raised for Manassès de Garlande, bishop from 1156 to 1185. Then, Manassès de Seignelay raised a brand new castle next to the first one. It was a big rectangular main building flanks by a tower on each corner (we still can see 3 of those towers). Bishop Fleuriau d'Armenonville, from 1716 to 1733, altered the 13th century’s main building and raised another façade overlooking the garden.

Dried bread and iron gag

The castle hosted famous persons… who? Joan of Arc, king François I… and François Villon! The famous French medieval poet, who wrote the Ballade des Dames du temps jadis. He led a dissolute life, full of debauchery, and was locked into Meung’s jail!

Locked in a dark and small dungeon, fed with dried bread! Ouch, he even was tortured and sentenced to death by bishop of Orléans Jacques Thibault d'Aussigny… The poet made allusions to his imprisonment in his Grand Testament:

"En l'an trentième de mon âge, Que toutes mes hontes j'ai eues, Ne du tout fol, ne du tout sage, Nonobstant maintes peines eues, Lesquelles j'ai toutes reçues Sous la main Thibault d'Aussigny. L'évêque il est, bénissant les rues, Qu'il soit le mien je le renie. Monseigneur n'est, ni mon évêque. Sous lui ne tiens, si n'est en friche. Foi ne lui doit, ni hommage avec, Je ne suis son serf ni sa biche. Repu m'a d'une petite miche Et de froide eau, tout un été. Large ou étroit, moult me fut chiche. Tel lui soit Dieu qu'il m'a été. Dieu Merci et Jacques Thibault Qui tant d'eau froide m'a fait boire ; En un bas lieu, non pas en haut, Manger d'angoisse mainte poire, Enferré Quand j'en ai mémoire, je prie pour lui."

Villon had a narrow escape: king Louis XI, passing by Meung in July 1461, released him… Besides, we still can visit his jail, and about 30 furnished rooms!