The village repas season has started and we had two to go to over the weekend. On Saturday we went to Oisseau, at their village hall. It was fantastic value. For 15 Euros we had an aperitif of Kir (white wine with blackcurrant liqueur) of which there was a second glass. For starters we had a chicken soup and then the main meal a quarter of a chicken in a white wine sauce, with rice. There were huge portions. Red wine was included in the price and on finishing a bottle another suddenly appeared. We also had a proper cheese course with a choice of 5 cheeses. For dessert there was a tart tatin (apple tart). The meal was finished with coffee and of course home-made calvados liberally served. All for 15 Euros, amazing value.

We, naturally had also been to Emile and Yvette’ for an initial aperitif of Emile’s pommeau and then after the meal back there for another coffee and a drop of Émile’s calva.

On Sunday we all went to Gorron for a repas in support of the local firefighters. The meal was served by a host of volunteers and food was served all day. They served over 750 meals during the day as the firefighters are well supported. The meal was not so grand as at Oisseau but very good and we again had homemade calva to finish the meal. Once again, we had pre and post repas entertainment with Emile and Yvette.

Next up will be the soiree dansant at St. Simeon in November. This is an evening do with music and dancing as well as calva, Throughout the winter there are a succession of these meals and as well as avoiding the need for cooking it does give a great opportunity to become part of the local community.

A random cat picture, Petit guards the stairs

Our neighbour Daniel has been having trouble with his geese. They don’t seem to want to do as they are told and keep escaping or refusing to go indoors at night times. We can hear Daniel shouting at the hens and getting ever more frustrated. He eventually resorts to cursing them with shouts of “nom de Dieu” (name of God, a blasphemous phrase much used by the French). Daniel’s anger increases to a level where he shouts the curse repeatedly. One morning Mrs. Parish was a bit worried after an extremely loud rant and went to see if he needed help. She found that Giselle was in her courtyard perfectly happy to ignore Daniel’s plight!

The accursed geese

Talking of curses, I am reading a series of books by a French author, Maurice Druon. The books have a collective title of: “The accursed Kings” (in French “Les Rois maudit”). The fictional stories are based upon the last years of the Capetian Kings of France at the beginning of the 14th Century and leading into the start of the Hundred Years War. It is a story of a cursed dynasty; intrigue; dark deeds; plots and poisonings and is said to be the inspiration for George Martin’s “Game of Thrones.”

It starts in 1314 with Phillipe IV, known as the fair, on the throne. At this time, as I have mentioned before, all the French kings had descriptions added to their names. Phillipe was clearly misnamed as he was anything but fair and reasonable. He centred power on the throne but when he needed money he tended to steal it. From the Jews and the Italian bankers. He then took on the Knights Templars to whom he was significantly in debt. With connivance of Pope Clement V, he had the order suppressed and its members arrested and he stole all their money. The leader of the Templars, Jacques de Molay was tortured into confessing heresy and then burned at the stake on the basis of his confession. Not terribly fair but according to Druon’s novel de Molay with his dying breath cursed the King and Pope and said they would both die within the year and the Capet royal family would be cursed over the generations!

Within a month Pope Clement died of some horrible disease and 8 months later Phillipe died after suffering a stroke while hunting.

The throne passed to his eldest son, Louis X, known as the stubborn. He didn’t do too well either. He was unlucky in love as his first wife was imprisoned for adultery. It is said that he had her strangled so he could remarry. His second wife was about to have a baby when Louis suddenly died. The official version was that he was playing a particularly hot game of indoor Real Tennis and drank too much cooled wine and died either of pleurisy or pneumonia. The other theory is that he was poisoned to advance the interests of his brother also a Phillipe. Louis died in 1316 and had been King for less than 2 years.

Phillipe immediately took over as regent awaiting the birth of the child due in five months. The child was a boy Jean I who sadly and mysteriously died 5 days after the birth earning the name Jean the posthumous.

At the death of his nephew, Philip immediately had himself crowned at Reims. However, his legitimacy was challenged by the party of Louis X’s daughter Joan. Philip V successfully contested her claims for a number of reasons, including her youth, doubts regarding her paternity (her mother was the one done for adultery), and the Estates General's (a kind of parliament) determination that women should be excluded from the line of succession to the French throne. The succession of Philip, instead of Joan, set the precedent for the French royal succession that would be famously known as the Salic law.

So, Phillipe V became King and was known as Phillipe the tall. At least an accurate if unimaginative title! He lasted relatively uneventfully until 1322 when it seems he died of dysentery. But the curse applied as he had no male heir to pass the crown onto. By his own establishment of Salic law, his four daughters had no claim and thus the throne passed to his younger brother who became Charles IV and known as the handsome.

Charles reigned for 6 years and died in 1328. Despite marrying three times, Charles died without a surviving male heir, thus ending the direct line of the Capetian dynasty. The application of Salic law barred Charles's one-year-old daughter Mary, by Jeanne d'Évreux, from succeeding as the monarch, but Jeanne was also pregnant at the time of Charles' death. Since she might have given birth to a son, a regency was set up under the heir presumptive Philip of Valois, son of Charles of Valois and a member of the House of Valois.

After two months, Jeanne gave birth to another daughter, Blanche, and thus Philip became king and in May was consecrated and crowned Philip VI. Known as the Fortunate but his succession was disputed so maybe not so lucky. Edward III of England argued, that although the Salic law should forbid inheritance by a woman, it did not forbid inheritance through a female line – under this argument, Edward should have inherited the throne, forming the basis of his claim during the ensuing Hundred Years War (1337–1453). Phillipe’s luck really ran out in 1345 when the French army led by Phillipe was slaughtered at the battle of Crecy and then lost Calais to the English. And so, the curse had its full effect.

Enough of history for now! The cats are demanding food once again and the hens need to be put away for the night. Maybe then a bit of French bread and cheese and a glass of wine!

Archie likes a box, however small!

Cute cats

Bonne semaine