Duke de Berry's palace in Bourges
An amazing place!
What's left of the former palace belonging to duke Jean of Berry, a great sponsor, king of France Jean II's third son?
It was duke’s architect, Guy de Dammartin, who raised the palace in 1370. In the continuation, he raised the Holy-Chapel, to house the future duke’s grave. These two buildings were more than 180 metres long!
- the big palace and its vast rooms, decorated with several huge chimneys and painted ceilings.
- the detached houses with stables, barns, houses for servants and guards...
- the Holy-Chapel raised between 1392 and 1397.
Like the Holy-Chapel in Paris, they raised that one in Bourges in order to put a piece of the Holy Cross and the duke’s grave. A marble grave (we can see it in cathedral of Bourges’ crypt), made by sculptor Jean of Cambrai.
In fact, it was a cenotaph (a funerary monument with no last remains inside) with a lower part flanked by 40 weepers. We see the duke wearing his ermine coat, his feet on an enchained and muzzled bear: a symbol of strength... but not only.
Since he was a kid, Jean was fond of astrology. He became a member of the secret Star Order, when he was 12... His device was Ursine, le temps viendra, "Ursine, time will come"... a mysterious motto, maybe with a link with the Little Bear...
Splendours and destructions
Anyway, the Chapel was destroyed in 1757... The stained-glass windows and all the gorgeous decoration were irretrievably lost... but our duke displayed mysterious things in his chapel!
The duke’s curiosities
In the Holy-Chapel’s porch, Jean de Berry displayed stuffed animals, especially a crocodile found in his palace’s cellar!
But the best of the best was a giant animal called Briat, described in detail by historian Jean Chaumeau in his book Histoire du Berry: giant bones of an animal caught in 1456 in the reign of Charles VII...
But he also had a big, very big deer, a ranchier: it was a kind of huge deer with big horns... they said this ranchier was 300 years old!