Peck's personal Web site
visit to Switzerland,
graduated from university, soon to be off to job-hunting, Marlowe visits the Old
Dad in Switzerland.
of Switzerland: Grandson
may not find this tangibly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
of July 2007, suitably rainy and dreary in honor of the patriotic occasion,
but we're going to make the best of it by visiting the Castle of Grandson once
it is, dripping glumly.
just go dry off and wait in the café for our croques monsieur to toast
up for 15 minutes or so, and then get ourselves sorted out and go visit the castle.
drizzly rain, we're moving pretty fast now to get inside. Even the castle's torture
chamber would be better than a chilly rain.
no, it wouldn't. Grandson's re-creation of a "Medieval Torture Chamber"
just inside the main entrance -- NOT where I'd place the torture chamber in MY
house, I can tell you that -- with all kinds of instruments of pain, including
a Scold's Bridel, and, for some reason, a genuine medieval chastity belt.
a mannikin standing there, not a real guy. It's not clear what a headsman's axe
has got to do with a torture chamber, but this whole thing is pretty goofy, so
we'll write it off to marketing the medieval product.
narrator confronted for the first time by a 16th century harquebus and not convinced
that it's safe for visitors.
is, evidently, the old Knights' Hall, for deliberating big issues and making judgments
on people, now available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. Very lovely, very woodish,
but, excuse me, Q. Which way to the toilets, A.
Just follow the signs.
display of medieval and early Renaissance weaponry
narrator dotes upon photographs through arches and doorways. There's no good reason
for that, it's just a fact. Those military guys are
enclosed behind Big Plastic and harmless for the moment.
in any civilized museum, you're supposed to check your steeds and weapons at the
guys with their weapons of choice
courtyard of the Château de Grandson, in a drizzly rain
ramparts, from the inside
at Grandson. There is an excellent audio-visual show here, in a choice of languages,
that shows the stages of development of the castle from Adalbert's first tower
in 1050 and a few huts around it to the major improvements completed in 1281 by
Otto I, who returned a wealthy man from the Crusades.
in the Tower". It's indescribably wonderful to have her visiting here again.
narrator loves photos taken out of archways and windows
de Neuchâtel in the background
1475 the castle was garrisoned by the Burgundians, whose Duke, Charles the Bold,
had serious territorial presumptions. Sturdy fellows from the Swiss Confederation
besieged them and allowed them to surrender and go home again. Alas, Duke Charles,
observing the Cheney Rule about disobedience in foreign
relations, came back in February 1476 to teach those Swiss a lesson in hegemony,
took the town and then the castle, having promised the Swiss garrison safe passage
and then hanging them all from nearby trees.
days later, a hastily assembled Swiss army, with units from as far away as Uri
in the Bernese Oberland, met the Burgundians just north of the castle along the
shores of Lac de Neuchâtel and kicked Burgundian butt
conclusively on 2 March 1476, the most famous battle in Swiss history.
narrator loves photos taken out of archways and windows.
the Bold had been unbold and in fleeing the battle had left behind hundreds of
millions of today-dollars' worth of gold, silver, tents and tapestries, artworks,
and other accoutrements of the modern battlefield, as well as 400 cannon, 10,000
horses, etc. The Swiss followed up by beating his next army of 30,000 at nearby
Murten ('Morat' in French) and then at Nancy, and ended Charles le Téméraire's
dreams of empire in Western Europe (as well as Charles le Téméraire
himself). Which is probably why the present nation of France is centred on Paris
instead of Dijon.
more civilized than the toilets at the Château de Chillon, which have two
seats side by side.
was the Castle of Grandson's great moment in history -- it subsequently became
an armory, a bailiff's house, a granary, and a local prison under various municipal
governments. (That may not be literally true, but it's the common tale of Swiss
castles from the 17th century onward.)
in the dungeons of the Château de Grandson -- the vintage automobiles museum.
A very good one, if you care about these things, as I don't, really, so not too
many photos of them here. But if you like old cars, this is probably a pilgrimage.
(There's a discrete door in the side of the dungeon wall for getting these things
in and out when they're needed elsewhere.) The museum managers, it must be said,
have done an excellent job of dressing the place up with ancient posters, photographs,
and artifacts, and scary mannikins in period costume.
viewing the "oubliette" -- a prison-sort of thing where they'd lower
guys down through that hole into a windowless chamber and "forget" about
them (thus the name), though, frankly, I'm not sure they could get me down through
that hole no matter how hard they went at it. At least it looks marginally more
humane than the torture-prisons at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and the CIA
"black prisons" in Poland and Romania, but not by much.
utter downpour in downtown Grandson village. How to get to the car (2nd from right,
pointing the wrong way)?
dodging rain drops adroitly
last look at Grandson and we're off in the rain for home, until next time.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 19 August 2007.