Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oh, Phooey!

The Course of Empire: The Arcadian or Pastoral State
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

Et in Arcadia Ego

Even in the Edenic garden of Arcadia death exists: "Oh, phooey to Death!" exclaims Thomasina.

The reference takes the garden as a symbol of timelessness and happiness into stark contrast.

In Giovani Guercino's painting, a large skull, personifying Death, rests on a pedestal on which is carved the inscription "Et in Arcadia Ego."

The skull symbolizes the message: death comes even to people who are happy and carefree and who live in the midst of plenty.

Et in Arcadia Ego (1618-22)
Guercino (1591-1622)
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica

Nicolas Poussin painted two "Et in Arcadia Ego" works. In the second work (below), a small skull resting on top preserves the allegorical dimension, as does the presence of the river god who is presumably pouring out the plenty which had previously made Arcadia a utopia. 

Et in Arcadia Ego (1627)
Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)
Chatsworth House

Here the pedestal has been replaced by a sarcophagus on which the words have been inscribed: "I, who am now dead, was once, like you, alive and happy" (Et in Arcadia Ego). 

Et in Arcadia Ego (Les Bergers d'Arcadie) (1637-38)
Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)

Empirical reasoning, as it appears in Stoppard's play, has primacy over intuition and imagination, the themes upon which Classicism were based.

Hannah's book demonstrates how the changing taste in gardens revealed the essence of each historical era, especially the transformation of the Age of Reason into the Romantic era. "The history of the garden says it all, beautifully," she claims. The garden was transformed in stages from around 1730, when the garden showed "Paradise in the age of reason," to its Gothic condition after 1810. For Hannah, the change represents "the decline from thinking to feeling."

While Thomasina discovers a scientific theory that was only known the scientists hundreds of years later, and may have even solved Fermat's last theorem, she dies in a fire on the eve of her seventeenth birthday. It is her death that proves to be the real death in Arcadia.

Move the setting of Stoppard's play 
one hundred years into the future: 
The year 2114. 

Thomasina, having undergone biomaterial restructuring, has changed her name to Horta and is now immortal. No longer dependent on her environment, no longer slave to her biological mechanism, no longer bound by the paradigm of human existence, Horta's tastes change. She transitions from the notion of chaos found in the Romantic era back to the Netwonian notion of rational, balanced and harmonious existence. The aesthetic of irregularity and irrationality bow, renouncing their previously conceived logical superiority to that of intuition and imagination.

Bowing Dancers (1885)
Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917)

Action is no longer frenzied or purposeless. 
Existence is permanent.
Horta's gestures, now deliberate. 

Placing Stoppard's play into the future, we can easily see the redesign of Et in Arcadia Ego to one that more closely matches what Thomasina originally implied was incorrectly translated by her mother, namely that "Et in Arcadia Ego" means:

"Here I am in Arcadia" 
(and there she will remain) 

Brining new meaning to the proclamation:

"Oh, Phooey to death!"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Art of Being Carefree

The art of feeling carefree, free from anxiety or responsibility, is the delight one feels associated with the sublime and is not linked to form, i.e., a preconceived judgment on how "serious" one should respond to the external environment and needs of the body.

Carefreeness (form) seems to be preadapted to our power of judgment, whereas seriousness (limitlessness and totality) is violent toward our imagination, overriding it with every "serious" thought. 

Allowing oneself to feel carefree implies furtherance of life and, thus, it is compatible with charm and playful imagination. The sublime quality associated with carefreeness implies a furtherance of earnestness in the concerns of the imagination. Since the mind is repelled by stress, the mental and emotional strain or tension resulting from our perspective of adverse or demanding circumstances requiring serious examination, the accumulation of vital forces produces not play but a hindrance of peaceful dignity. 

It is noteworthy to highlight that the point here is not necessarily insouciance as opposed to a relaxed calm, but the representation of composure and mental serenity that comes with the mental state of feeling calm and untroubled. 

The "art" associated with maintaining a carefree state while engaging in circumstances that require our attention is indeed a creative activity as maintaining any given state of mind requires skill, something typically acquired through practice. 

Purposely choosing to respond to life's demands in a carefree fashion produces a dignity unfamiliar to the majority who like Kant, see the sublime as a hindrance of the well-known serious attitudes associated with progress. When the state of carefree is chosen and skillfully maintained, the sublime quality of dignity arises, an ideal goal to be earnestly sought for. 

The characteristics of dignity of mind, which arise from the skillful continuance of the state of carefreeness, produces a multitude of responses concerned with the processes and products of human existence and social life (as contrasted with the belief that progress lies in serious critique and judgment prior to understanding). The sense of pride in oneself arising from decorum, propriety, and noble intent progresses our imagination towards ad infinitum. Irregularity and disorder are mere subjective judgments, whereas the dignity that arises from purposeful carefreeness releases the mind from the belief that seriousness is the highest response. Surely being "serious" is a response one can choose, but it is not the only response. Thus other states of mind contribute to the positive outcome of life's many experiences. These states are explorable. 

While irregularity and disorder will still naturally arise in one's life (the perception of irregularity is experienced when one is maintaining a specific state as opposed to every conceivable state, such as is the perspective of being held in a physical mechanism), comprehension that these circumstances can be met from an entirely peaceful state of mind is where the neutral point of human response lies. The mere understanding that there is a "choice" is not only empowering but can lead to our successfully overriding the human tendency to "tense up" when encountering irregularity. 

Successfully maintaining this state of mind perhaps requires a quantum leap in imaginative thought. At a minimum it requires a willingness to explore. It is the explorations we undertake that moves the soul from one state to the next. 

The many explorations of form, perceived as true explorations of form, produces a calm in our sense of symmetry with a main axis that leads the eye to the horizon of what is rather than what can be produced. As with everything in life, the art of maintaining any state is a matter of intent, perspective, and choice. While these perceptions and their resulting actions can be perceived as processes and hence as an excitatory state independent of the sublime dignity felt in carefreeness, they are merely a matter of style. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

One flip of the page and you might find a very intrepid little girl called Goldilocks, a mischievous little adventurer who explores everything between absence and natural pleasure.  In a forest called Noia where all the empty spaces left behind in the real world are filled-up with earth and foliage, Goldilocks comes upon a dear little cottage.

            The little cottage was bursting with character. Adornments and embellishments raced to be where they were not; then other objects took their place. They moved about in countless configurations, reducing their sum into tiny bits of purity. The desire to enter this dwelling so fervently felt, that Goldilocks forgot herself for a moment; pushed open the door and went inside.

            The cottage was in a state of perpetual existence; quaint and pretty on the inside, a reflection of the constantly shifting shingles and windowsills on the outside. Goldilocks could not imagine a time in the future when she would not desire the happiness she felt while inside this little cottage.

            Just then, she noticed three bowls of enchanting porridge sitting up upon the table; proof, she thought, of the perpetual existence of human desire.

            Feeling a bit peckish, Goldilocks dipped a Golden spoon into the biggest bowl of all… and took a bite.

“Ouch!” she cried. “That porridge is far too hot!”

            Goldilocks stood there, thinking an infinite number of thoughts about the nature of hot porridge.

            This steaming bowl of porridge will forever be dear to me
         It taught me that things are not what they seem
         And often times completely off ~ far away from our view
         The moment that porridge touched my lips
         Endless sensations swirled, until they were quiet again
         My heart leaped, but I was not afraid
         The wind came, caressing its way across my cheek
         I blushed not!
         Then I called to mind a second bowl
         Sitting and gazing back up at me
         The sense of exploration enveloped me
         An immensity of new thoughts arose
         From this sweet cold upon my mouth

            Goldilocks thought her way back to the table where the medium-sized bowl of porridge proudly sat. No wonder the chair was so still, she retorted to herself.

            The velvet-lined seat of pleasure was in a perpetual state of transfixedness, forever associated with beauty by all who gaze upon it; but fabric wrinkles and creases, and those who once found delight upon her cloth are now immensely tired of it. They sought to abandon it, to search for other, more imminently pleasing pieces of furniture. Three legs or four, raised or lowered, reclining or upright ~ they leap … and land on the footrest, a poor substitute for a chair.

            We are in the beginning of this story, in which, as Goldilocks says of her adventure, we abandon earlier pleasures for ones that are more difficult. Acolytes of the ‘grass on the other side of the meadow being greener’, we call to mind again how we felt when we first gazed upon that initial bowl or porridge in the hopes of experiencing happiness, which is itself a passion. Filling the experience with all that we have inside ourselves, the shock that came upon us after we discovered that it was not what we thought it would be tore through our insides, tears rose beneath our eyelids and we wept. Full of travail, our thoughts were instantly still.

            The moment changed ~ and yet, remembering it, kept it there. Reckoning up the cycles of sorrow at having burned her tongue on that sultry intensity that stings its recipients with a vehemence known when in the throws of enthusiasm and excitement, Goldilocks wondered, just exactly WHO would serve porridge so biting hot?

            Then she reminded herself that it was she who took that bite, unaided and coaxed not. In that split-second, Goldilocks realized that the pain only endured when she thought of what caused it. Could she move on and enjoy other porridge without thinking upon this bowl again? Would it serve her to keep her mind ablaze, smoldering with regret and resentment for having tasted something before it was ready to be eaten?

            “Don’t be ridiculous!” she shouted, but no one was there to hear her lament.
            Goldilocks felt herself feeling quite flustered. Oddly enough, she was feeling obsessed and consumed by a feverish desire to return to the glow of the flame from that first, highly unfortunate bite. Right then, she felt something drop! She looked around but all was still. She looked inside herself and saw that it was her happiness that had fallen to the ground. “I wonder if this has anything to do with my continuing to think about hot porridge?”
            With that thought, Goldilocks fell deeply quiet. Her mind felt void, yet it was filled with indifference. “This is not terrible, neither is it enjoyable!” she bellowed. “It drowns in its own noise, sings in infinite silence, and fashions everything it desires far away from its view. No wonder it is cold.”

            Then her thoughts mingled again.  “Can a hot bowl of porridge or a cold bowl of porridge yield anyone pleasure? Surely they must, and then again, they might not.”

            Goldilocks wondered how to solve the riddle she was creating for herself. “A clue seems to be in the anticipation,” she concluded, “either of the same, better, or worse to come. It is in the search for the sublime that we dare to identify ourselves with the heroic flower, the lover of decadent places that are abandoned by the world.”  

            Converting purity of diction to the next metaphoric experience, Goldilocks noticed a very small bowl that she had not seen before. With the other two bowls conveniently pushed out of the way, Goldilocks dipped her Golden spoon into the last and littlest bowl of porridge. Within moments, her hunger vanished and she found herself growing very content, and then sleepy.

            Making her way up the stairs in search of a soft place upon which she could rest her head, Goldilocks was greeted by three little beds. She lied down on the first one and immediately closed her eyes in anticipation of a lovely sleep. Growing pale from the discomfort the hardness of this unforgiving bed inflicted upon anyone daring to recline upon it, Goldilocks took courage and moved over to the second. Assuring herself that this bed would be different ~ because the pillows were soft and embroidered with hummingbirds ~ Goldilocks bounced on the bed and instead of bouncing right back up, nestled into a perfectly fine spot where she sunk uncomfortably so, all the way down into the cushioned goodness ~ to the point she thought she might disappear forever!

            With all the strength she could command of her arms, Goldilocks reached up and latched onto the side of the headboard; pulling herself out of a material abyss, she glanced back, thinking to herself how very deceiving one’s perceptions on something as innocuous as fabrics can be.

            Utterly exhausted and quite dissatisfied with the amount of effort she was investing in such a simple act; Goldilocks scanned the room for another opportunity to rest her brain. As she did so, she noticed a little bed in the corner of the room; like the littlest bowl of porridge, she had not noticed in the beginning.  As Goldilocks stood, fretting over what lie in store for her with this bed, she noticed a peculiar beam of light shinning down upon it from the northwest skylight.

            The duvet was simple; it was a light cream-colored material adorned with daisies as unassuming as the corner where the bed stood. “Maybe I can just rest here for a moment,” thought Goldilocks, and she lied down upon the bed and immediately thereafter fell fast asleep.

            While Goldilocks slept… the three bears that lived in the Noian cottage returned.

            Father Bear was too busy taking off his boots to notice that the door was ajar. Mother Bear, as always, had her hands full of flowers from their morning walk. It was Baby Bear who felt that something didn’t quite ‘feel’ right.

            “Something feels strange, Papa,” said Baby Bear, looking around the room trying to figure out just what it was that felt strange.

            Papa Bear nodded, but did not lift his head, as he was busy tightening a loose bolt on the entryway bench.

            “Something feels off, Mama,” repeated Baby Bear, redirecting his concern to his mother, who usually paid more attention to what he had to say than did Papa Bear; but this time, Mama Bear was busy, too, and when Mama Bear was busy all she would ever say is “Not now, Baby Bear. Can’t you see Mama has her hands full?”

            Knowing full well that Mama and Papa Bear were not the least bit interested in what Baby Bear was wondering, he decided to investigate on his own. “I don’t see anything unusual,” Baby Bear said to himself, “but I know our cottage, and something does not abide, though I do not know what that is.”

            Baby Bear made his way into the kitchen, where all Baby bears go for mid-morning snacks. Sitting on the table right in front of him were the three bowls of porridge that Mama Bear left out to cool while they gathered flowers in the woods. Just as Baby Bear started to smile remembering that he had porridge waiting for him, he realized that something was wrong with this scene.

            He sniffed Papa Bear’s porridge and smelled something sweeter than honey. He then smelled Mama Bear’s porridge and smelled the very same sweet smell. Then when he leaned in to smell his own porridge, he was surprised that it had no smell at all … for it was all gone!

            “Mama Bear! Papa Bear!” Shouted Baby Bear at the top of his lungs. “Someone has eaten my porridge!”

            But Mama Bear and Papa Bear didn’t hear Baby Bear clearly as he was shouting from deep inside the kitchen and the sounds were a bit muffled by the time they arrived back to the front of the cottage.

            “That’s nice!” Shouted Mama Bear and Papa Bear in unison, thinking Baby Bear was announcing that it was ‘he’ who had eaten all of his porridge. In fact, Mama Bear looked up at Papa Bear who gave her a satisfactory grin, for Baby Bear was a notoriously picky eater and often times preferred berries to porridge.

            “Our baby bear is growing up,” proudly exclaimed Papa Bear.

            “He sure is!” replied Mama Bear, and they both went back to doing exactly what they had been doing before Baby Bear interrupted them from their thoughts.

            Baby Bear, who was a clever little bear, knew that something, or someone, had to have eaten the porridge, and he knew it wasn’t he. Just then, Baby Bear noticed some mud on the kitchen floor that meandered all the way to the foot of the stairwell. He pusillanimously peeked up the stairwell and, sure enough, the mud went all the way up to his family’s bedchamber. Feeling rather brave and fearless from having defeated one the bravest mice in Noia at a game of matching last week, he decided to continue his investigation.

            Softly walking up the stairs so as not to allow the wooden planks creak, Baby Bear made it all the way upstairs without making a sound. Right away, he saw that Papa Bear and Mama Bear’s beds were in disarray. Baby Bear trembled and felt his heart sink into his stomach as if both were floating on a sea of soap.

            Papa Bear’s bed was un-tucked, something Papa Bear would never stand for. Mama Bear’s covers were hanging off the side of her bed, something that would surely make her gasp at the sheer horror of the situation! The mere idea of her beautiful duvet touching the floor would have made Mama Bear aloud.

            Without saying a word, Baby Bear went over to Papa Bear’s bed and neatly tucked the covers back under the headboard. He picked up the pillow and placed it right in the middle where Papa Bear liked it. Then, Baby Bear pulled Mama Bear’s duvet up off the floor, arranged it neatly, picked up all the pillows, as there were many, and placed them neatly in the configuration Mama Bear liked best.

            Right about the time Baby Bear thought his work was all done, he heard a rustling coming from the corner of the room. The impulse to run overcame him, but his feet stood firmly fixed as if they were deeply devoted to that very spot.

            Baby Bear looked up at the sunray that shone down upon his bed. Little dust bunnies were floating and bouncing into each other in the stream of light. It was winter and the light is especially active in winter. Then Baby Bear smelled that same sweet smell he had smelled in both Papa Bear and Mama Bear’s porridge bowls. A sense of heavy harmonies grew in his heart for the smell was sweeter than the shape of music. Even the air seemed eager to greet this new smell. The colors of the dust bunnies soothed Baby Bear like a tune. They were green, gold, and red, with flecks of yellow blowing between them.

            Baby Bear looked down upon his bed and saw a sweet little blonde girl, he knew it was a girl because Papa Bear had told him bedtime stories about little humans who sometimes ventured into Noia in search of something yummy to eat. Clearly, this little girl was one of them. Imagine… his very own little human! The marvelous things they might do when she wakes up, the exciting adventures they might have when they later go outside to play, and the thrill they’d experience when climbing trees and feasting on honey all the day, while gazing out over the hills of Noia.

            “Hello?” whispered Baby Bear, trying his very best not to startle the little girl. She did not move. “Hello, little human,” said Baby Bear, just a bit louder than before but still quiet enough so as not to frighten the little girl. Feeling himself growing tired and a little frustrated, not to mention silly for whispering in the middle of the day, Baby Bear shouted, “HELLO, HUMAN!”

            And with that, Goldilocks leapt to her feet, spinning herself back and forth trying to catch her bearings as to what exactly was going on. “Am I dreaming?” she asked the little bear.

            “I don’t think so,” replied Baby Bear, wondering if perchance she might still be asleep even though he knew that they were both most assuredly awake.

            “Quite the verbal genius,” thought Goldilocks, being a bit snarky after having been woken up so very rudely.

            “Well, if I’m not asleep, and you are really here, that means that I am the one who is trespassing and for this I apologize… but the door was open and the porridge smelled so good that I simply could not help myself. And then I felt sleepy, and as it was close to my nap time, I decided to rest my head before leaving you a thank you note.”

            Baby Bear listened intently. Everything the little girl was saying made perfect sense to him as she was saying it. “It’s perfectly fine,” replied Baby Bear, emulating his mother’s most reassuring of voices; it was the same tone Mama Bear used with him when he fell down or got a bee sting while trying to scoop out honey from beehives.

            “Would you like to go downstairs with me and meet Mama Bear and Papa Bear?” asked Baby Bear, eager to introduce his new playmate to his parents.

            Thinking that she had gotten herself into a bit of a pickle, Goldilocks smiled and agreed. “I’ll just run away once we get outside,” she thought, “this way they won’t end up eating me!”

            Goldilocks can sometimes be the wittiest critic for her mind immediately fixated on what she knew of bears: they eat little children! Summing up the courage to go and pretend that she wanted to meet Papa Bear and Mama Bear, Goldilocks slowly followed Baby Bear back down the stairs, but the moment they reached the kitchen, she rushed out the side door and ran and ran and ran until she came to a large fence on the outskirts of Noia.

            On the other side of the fence was a field she recognized as her own. But before escaping underneath, she glanced back over her shoulder and said with an air of disappointment:

Across, asunder, a divided place
I smiled, I rejoiced, and porridge I ate
But friends with me, you cannot be
Because Noia is filled with Medlar Trees

Medlar Trees, Cagnes (1908)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Private Collection

Friday, January 24, 2014

Alice in the Marais

"Curiouser and curiouser,"

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

thought Alice to herself as she stumbled across BHV's floating numbers...

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

"Where shall I go in the Marais today?"

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. 

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

"I guess I could go back to yesterday, 

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh


Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

I can't go back to yesterday. I'm already at today.

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

I suppose I could write about the History of the Marais

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh


Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

I prefer to focus on the adventures first. 
Explanations take such a dreadful amount of time out of one's day."

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

Alice had gotten so used to expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and grey for life to go on in any other way.

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

So, she decided to sit for a spell
writing a forward memory
instead of a backwards one...

Photo credit: ©Soph Laugh

"The question is," asked Alice, 
"How many meanings can you make out of words?"

Soph Laugh

Bibliotèque Forney

Hôtel de Sens, Bibliotèque Forney
1, rue Figuier; Paris, France 75004

The Forney library is a rarity among libraries. While it is a 19th-century library, inaugurated in 1886, it has (since 1961) been housed in the Hôtel de Sens, a medieval building built between 1475 and 1507.

The library was created by Aimé-Samuel Forney to promote artistic craftsmanship for the city's workers. Forney, a philanthropist who left no heirs, instead left the city a legacy that funded a new type of institution: a professional library that Parisian workers could use to perfect their skills.

The Forney library, originally located in Forney's neighborhood of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine (11th arrondissement), was the first library in Paris to stay open late so that visitors could make use of it after work.

It is not necessary to register to visit the Forney library. However, if you wish to borrow books, you'll have to register at the Accueil desk. Simply fill out a fiche d'information titled: Inscription dans les Bibliothèques de la Ville de Paris, present a valid photo ID (passport), and bring a small photo of yourself (to put on your membership card). With parental supervision, children can also receive cards and have borrowing privileges.

The library collection is located on 3 distinct floors. The reading room is spacious and divided from the stacks by a triple-arched screen of open stone lacework. The poster collection is up a winding stone stairway inside one of the turrets. The collection includes decorative, graphic and fine arts as well as collections on wallpapers, textiles, posters and advertisements. On the 3rd floor, I found a book on sardine advertisements, which I thought was quite drôle. 

As well as having computers (some with Internet access), there is plenty of seating and space to view books, make notes, and consult the library's many catalogs. However, the librarians are well-informed, friendly, and enthusiastic in their help, so if you have questions, I'd start with them first. For example, much of my research is not located at the Forney, but when inquiring whether or not they had information on the subject I was seeking, they were able to direct me to other libraries in Paris. Not only were they familiar with their own collection, but those of the other libraries as well.

If you wish to get online, look for a computer with a red dot on the top of the monitor (same place where you'd find the integrated camera on a laptop), enter your membership code (this number is below the bar code on your card), and your birthdate as your secret code (day/month/4-digit year of birth). Voilá! You now have access to the Internet for 1-hour. I presume you can sign-in again for another 1-hour session, however, I only needed to be online for about 30 minutes, so I didn't have a first-hand opportunity to find out. Besides, given that I can sign-in from anywhere, including home, I figured my time was best served exploring the many shelves of the library, which I did with great delight.

Visiting Paris' Bibliotèque Forney is a treat for any bookophile.  For those who do not speak French, the library also has a pretty sizable collection of books in English.

Taking a photo of my children in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Sens

A Snapshot of the Marais

The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839, initially believed by Baudelaire to be an offense to the artist domain, claiming that the reproducibility and mechanical aspects of the photographic process rendered it artificial and unauthentic, is the very device upon which we now rely to see 19th century Marais.

The Age of Mechanical Reproduction might have removed art from its "sphere of authenticity," but it did not prevent the Marais' unique artistry - Paris' own country in the city - from being captured in time. 

Napoleon III hired Charles Marville to document older neighborhoods of Paris prior to Haussmann's influence. His photographs captured 19th century Paris like no other historical testimony available to us today. 

Félix Nadar dans son Géant 

Despite the ambivalent reception photography had in the nineteenth century artistic domain, the novelty of preserving early photographs is now considered an artform. 

The artiste démolisseur preserved the integrity of Paris like no other non-collective artform could... by capturing a moment in time... the preservation of history. 

Much like how the virtual world now captures primary source contributions on a global scale, photography in the early 19th century reproduced history in a way that continues to captivate the imagination of those transfixed by these romantic mechanical images. 

I look forward to taking my own photographs of the Marais, of capturing its ever-evolving social and architectural moments to illustrate to future generations that while a photograph is nice, to truly feel connected, nothing compares to being there in person. 

Welcome to the Marais 

Early Origins of the Marais

In 879, the emperor Charles the Bald donated the flooded lands, now known as the Marais, to a religious community - the St. Opportune Abbey. 

First Bible of Charles the Bald (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS lat. 1) presented in 846
9th century manuscript Bible commissioned by Count Vivien (aka Count Vivian Bible / Vivian Bible)
495 mm x 345 mm / 423 vellum folios

The draining of the lands turned them into fertile marshes (marais), the parisian term denoting farming of vegetables and aromatic plants. 

One of the earliest religious brotherhoods to take part in this new vegetable farming directly outside the courts of Paris were the Maison du Temple and the St. Martin of the Fields brotherhoods. The order of the Temple built their fortified church in the Marais in 1240. 

Prior to leaving for the crusade in the 12th century, King Philippe Aguste commissioned a high wall to be built around Paris to protect the city from Viking raiders.  

The agricultural fields of the Marais were not included inside this original enclosure, but a fortified gate was built, allowing access from the city to the surrounding fields. 

In the mid-14th century, while the Turks were overrunning Hungary and one-third of Europe was in full revolt against the Church, Charles V built a new city wall protecting Paris, this time it included the Marais, where he moved the Royal Court. 

Bastille Saint-Antoine was then a fort-bastide. It was built on the line of the city walls south of the Porte Saint-Antoine and surrounded by its own moat. 

The fortress commanded the river and its approaches, furnishing protection to the Hotel Saint-Pol, the new location for the royal court. 

19th Century reconstruction of the Hotel Saint Pol Huyot. The Bastille is at the bottom, the Church of St. Paul is to the left and the Celestine monastery is on the right (in blue). The wall built by Charles V is visible in the foreground,  as well as the tower Barbeau and the door leading to the Rue du Petit-Musc.

Shaded location of the Hotel Saint-Pol.  
The main entrance door of the King's residence (in red) looked toward the river Seine.
The Queen's home (yellow) and the Dauphin (blue) were north of present day Rue de Lions St. Paul. 
There were gardens along the Rue du Petit-Musc.

Why did Charles V move the French Court to the Marais? 

Since his youth, the dauphin had good reason to be alarmed by the growing power of the Confrerie de Bourgeois, the municipal authorities of Paris. 

Statue of Étienne Marcel by Antonin Idrac next to the Hôtel de Ville

Étienne Marcel, wearing colors of the revolt, marched to the Louvre, broke into the apartments of the dauphin, and in the presence of the prince, assassinated Robert de Clermont, marshal of France, and Jean de Conflans, marshal of Champagne. The dauphin barely escaped by consenting to wear the red and green cap of the republican leader.

Determined to secure his residence with the Association de la Marchandise de L'Eau, the prince regent forsake the Palais and the Louvre and moved the Royal Court to the Marais.

His purchases included the hotel of the comte d'Etampes, the hotel of the Archibishop of Sens with its gardens, and the smaller hotels d'Estomesnil and Pute-y-Muce as well as the estate of the abbots of Saint-Maur. Upon receiving the throne, Charles V declared the Hotel-Saint Pol the property of the crown.

The royal court was a group of palaces rather than a single building whose gardens were shaded by trellises and covered with vines in what would eventually become a future haven for the amusements for generations of aristocrats, artists, scholars, and those seeking refuge from the staunch régime.