Destinations Magazine

The Best of the D.C: The Burghers of Calais (Part Two)

By Lwblog @londonwalks

This post first appeared in November 2010

The Best of the D.C: The Burghers of Calais (Part Two)Up-close with one of the great works of art in London (Read Part One HERE).David examines Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais…
Think of the heroine of the Burghers of Calais tale, Philippa. She would lose two of her 14 children to the Black Death. At Calais Philippa was heavily pregnant with her tenth child and she interceded because she thought killing the burghers would be bad karma for her unborn child. 
That was what was ahead for these people. What was behind was that just a month previously the burghers, with the English looking on, had watched 500 of their children and their old starve to death just outside the city walls. They’d expelled them from the city so that the final reserves of food could go to the remaining healthy men and women. The English wouldn’t let the children and the oldsters approach their siege lines, let alone give them a free pass through. They starved to death beneath the walls of Calais. Under the eyes of besieger and besieged. 
But given what was two months in the future for one and all, that was a mercy.
And the immediate future – the next ten minutes – for these six men? King Edward was furious that Calais had dared to resist him. He thought he was King of France, after all. And in any case Calais had been a hotbed of piracy in the past – its ships had preyed on English commerce. In short, “exemplary punishment”, as it was known – genocide we’d be tempted to call it today – was on the cards.
The king’s advisers – including, incidentally, Sir Walter de Manny, he of Charterhouse fame – counseled against mass murder. Edward compromised. He said, “all right I want their six richest citizens. I want them to walk out of that place in their shirts, their feet bare, with the keys of the city, and ropes round their necks. “
Which of course is precisely what Rodin shows us in the sculpture. The ropes, incidentally, signified the victor’s right to hang them at will.
Edward said, “on them I shall work my will. The rest I will receive to my mercy.”
At which point Philippa’s unborn child kicked in the womb.
Three final points. 
1) Edward said to Philippa, “Ok, they’re yours. Deal with them as you please. That meant their property was hers as well as their bodies. One of the six was John Daire, the richest man in Calais. 
Philippa saved his life but she helped herself to his houses.
2) It’s not just the Rodin sculpture that puts us in mind of those long ago times. The Prince of Wales’ feathers also waft us right back to the 1340s. (Watch this space!)
3) Calais was “English” until 1558. The recovery of Calais. The French had their cause; the Hundred Years War its lifeline.
Ask David all about it in person this Thursday on the Old Westminster Walk. 


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Australopithecus Sediba: Early Human Or Ancient Ape?

    Australopithecus sediba is a South African member of the human family that lived about 1.9 million years ago. And that's about all we can say for sure about... Read more

    6 hours, 59 minutes ago by   Reprieve
    BIOLOGY, SCIENCE
  • What to Do About a Lack of Energy on Low Carb?

    What About Lack Energy Carb?

    Is a low-carb diet appropriate for someone who has had gastric-bypass surgery? Can you lose weight on low carb while taking insulin? And what to do about a... Read more

    7 hours, 18 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Comic Performer-turned-painter The Iceman Suddenly Outsells Van Gogh.

    Comic Performer-turned-painter Iceman Suddenly Outsells Gogh.

    The Artist formerly known as The Iceman: a brush with fameI have blogged before about the comic performance artist legend that is The Iceman. Read more

    7 hours, 48 minutes ago by   Thejohnfleming
    CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT
  • My Ramadan Baby

    Ramadan Baby

    I remember the day like it was yesterday. The Islamabad sun, hot and bright, burned down on my mom and I as we walked to the hospital with my first-born -... Read more

    7 hours, 51 minutes ago by   Marilyngardner5
    RELIGION, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Stories from the Stacks Vol. 2: “Unidentified”

    Stories from Stacks Vol. “Unidentified”

    Contributed by Stacy Young, University of Akron student/CCHP Student Assistant.CCHP: What led you to us?SY: I previously attended the Museums and Archives... Read more

    8 hours, 16 minutes ago by   Chp
    HEALTH, HISTORY, PSYCHOLOGY
  • Spectre – Bond’s Navy Suit

    Spectre Bond’s Navy Suit

    Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre (2015).VitalsDaniel Craig as James Bond, British government agentMorocco, November 2015Film: Spectre Release Date:... Read more

    8 hours, 56 minutes ago by   Nguzan
    ENTERTAINMENT, TV & VIDEO
  • Should You #Golf With Better Players?

    Should #Golf With Better Players?

    Do you immediately feel anxious when approached by a single golfer or couple who wants to join you for the round? Chances are, you may have been with your... Read more

    8 hours, 58 minutes ago by   Golfforbeginners
    GOLF, SPORTS

Magazines