I posted about the history and architecture of Notre Dame. It is part of Paris‘ cultural and religious lifeblood. It’s huge, historic, and imposing. I was surprised to find pockets of warmth, small details and intimacy when we visited during a mass.
Charles II, Duke of Brunswick (1804 – 1873) (aka Charles d’Este-Guelph) inherited the throne as a child after his grandfather and father died fighting (the battles of Jena and Waterloo). Prince George (of the United Kingdom and Hanover) became his guardian.
Between disputes his age of majority Charles’s invalidation of some laws (made during his minority) caused friction. Apparently, he had his fair share of “indiscretions” too. In 1830, he lost his throne and was exiled. Obsessively focused on recovering his lands, he allied himself with anyone he could to get it back. He moved to Paris, where he built a huge palace that was way ahead of its time. While it didn’t have a moat, it had tons of security features including giant walls, hidden spring guns that guarded valuables, and other unique apparatuses. It didn’t, however, have a cook. Since the Duke was a bit paranoid, he ate out. Since he sounds like such a normal guy, such an average Joe, you won’t be surprised to learn that he had a memorable appearance. He was a heavyset fellow who wore elaborate costumes that were lavishly decorated with diamonds. Once, he told some broads that he even had diamonds sewn on his undies! No word on whether they accepted his invitation to see his bling.
When the Franco-Prussian War (between France and Germany) broke out, Brunswick moved to Geneva. He died in the Beau-Rivage Hotel there in 1873. He left his bequeathed his fortune to the City of Geneva with one condition. He requested they build a monument to his memory and specified that it be a replica of the Scaliger Tombs in Verona, Italy. The city used the money to build the golden gates of Parc des Bastions and the city’s opera, the Grand Theatre.
Why Geneva? Although he had an illegitimate (but acknowledged) daughter, he broke ties and removed her from his will when she converted to Catholicism. Some say that the lawsuit he lost requiring him to support her was the real reason he left Paris. Paris’s loss was Geneva’s gain.
In 1979, Geneva built the Brunswick Monument near his final home at the Beau-Rivage Hotel (also near the other five star hotels the Richemont Hotel and the Hotel de la Paix). It is impossible to miss if you walk along the Paquis side of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).
The inscription on the monument reads: “The Duke of Brunswick, Charles Frederick August William, was a distinguished linguist, horsemen and musician was born 1804. He dethroned and chased out in 1830 and thus, took refuge in Paris, but spent his last three years back in Geneva. Mr. Charles Frederick August William was an eccentric and a paranoid. His death in 18 August 1873 provided a tidy sum for the city Geneva. But in his will, Geneva, as his residuary legatee must provide his final resting place that is in ‘an eminent and worthy location, executed according to the established concept by the finest artists of the time, without consideration of cost”.
Thanks old chap!
We’ve done our fair share of traveling in France lately. We’ve noticed virtually every town there has monuments to local citizens who died in service of their country. The lists of names, often including those deported and killed locally, are a touching remembrance.
Veterans Day annually falls on November 11, but to make it a bank holiday/federal holiday it is observed on Monday, November 12 in the United States . Why November 11? On November 11, 1918, the armistice ending World War I was signed. On that day, hostilities between the Allied countries and Germany officially ended. Germany
Technical innovations like the machine gun, poison gas, tanks, and aircraft appeared in battle for the first time in World War I. Scientific advances and industrialization joined to create enormous death tolls. Germany lost 1,800,000; the Soviet Union lost 1,700,000; France lost 1,385,000; Austria lost 1,200,000; Great Britain lost 947,000. While that may seem small in comparison to some of the other countries listed, about 1/3 of Great Britain’s male population died in The Great War! Extrapolating, it’s difficult to imagine the devastating effects on experienced by some of the other countries listed, especially those who had the war fought on their soil.
Although we haven’t seen quite as many such monuments in Germany, we did see a few there too. We came across the one below in Bad Munster, near Bad Kreuznach in Germany.
After WWII, the holiday was expanded to remember those who served in that war. In the US, we’ve had a significant number of wars over the last century Veterans Day honors and thanks veterans for their service to their country.
War requires sacrifices and troops bear more of them than most. It is important to remember those sacrifices and the people who made them. War isn’t a triviality. It’s important to remember that it carries with it a human cost. Whether you call it Armistice Day or Veterans Day, it is a time to remember the price paid, the sacrifices of those that have served and honor those that did.
It is customary for Jews to put small stones on a gravesite when visiting it.
Over the years, the bodies accumulated. Now the cemetery is over a story above street level.
I found the concept of having a museum divided between several important buildings all within close walking distance to each other really interesting and easy to manage. Each one has a different focus and so they compliment each other, rather than overlap. It was an incredibly interesting and moving morning.