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Duke de Berry's palace in Bourges

The façade | / CC-BY-NC-SA
Town house Jean I of Berry 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!

Dammartin built:

  • 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.

Duke’s grave

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!

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!