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Mézidon-Canon castle: oppressed innocence and Good people festivities

The castle | isamiga76 / CC-BY
Castle Festivities Jean-Baptiste-Elie de Beaumont Mézidon-Canon castle

Oppressed innocence's defender

The current castle put up in 1727, transformed in 1768 by the de Beaumont family, has got pure white façades set off by Carrara marble, reflecting in the pond water.

Whoa, my word! Worthy of a great man!

The guy who set up here in 1760 was a pretty important man: Jean-Baptiste-Elie de Beaumont, lawyer at the Parliament of Paris and great buddy of French writer Voltaire.

This Norman, born in an old Protestant family, made the defence of the Huguenot Calas, wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit (Voltaire also wrote about this case in his castle of Ferney, do you remember?): his Memoire pour les enfants de Calas, in 1762, brought him a quick fame!

Even his friend Voltaire nicknamed him “the philosopher of the oppressed innocence”...

In 1760, so, the year of his arrival in Canon, Jean-Baptiste married the last heir of the Bérenger, the family who owned the land of Mézidon since the end of the 17th c.

Les Bonnes Gens

In 1775, Jean-Baptiste’s wife, Anne-Louise du Mesnil, created a very special celebration, a very popular one in the area: la fête des Bonnes Gens (“Good People celebration”).

The goal? To elect a “good old man”, a “good girl”, a “good head of the family”, a “good mother” among inhabitants of the area (villages of Canon, Vieux-Fumé and Mézidon).

They crowned the first one with wheat, the second one with roses, the mother with everlasting flowers… and they get money and a medal.

The party was pretty popular among the villagers and people from the area, but also among noblemen, in whole France! The village of Canon even became Canon-les-Bonnes-Gens (“Canon the Good-People”).

Even the count d’Artois (Louis XVI’s brother) came and took part in the celebration, because Jean-Baptiste was his own Financial intendant. The last celebration took place in 1786, when this last one died...

Besides, we can see decorations on the castle Eastern façade, echoing the Good-People celebration.

From Normandy... to New-Zealand!

Léonce-Elie de Beaumont, Jean-Baptiste’s grand-son, was born in the castle of Canon in 1798.

He was a teacher in the Collège de France in Paris.

Well, he created the first geological map of France with 1/500000 scale! He even gave his name to a mountain in New-Zealand: Mount Elie de Beaumont.

The visit of Canon

So, people come here for its park, for little gardens which used to be full of fruit tree, replaced by profusion of flowers, a Chinese pavilion, grottos and statues which give a little Italian touch to this piece of Norman country… Such a gorgeous stroll, trust us!

About the the author

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