This is my second post on the Château de Vincennes, the first covered the history and grounds of the outer keep or Enciente. The Chateau de Vincennes was where both Philippe III and IV were married and three kings, namely Louis X, Philippe V and Charles IV, were born there. Henry V of England also passed away in the donjon tower in 1422 following the siege of Meaux. This really gave it a place in French history and made the Chateau more than just a hunting lodge and sometime home for kings. The Chateau boasts the tallest medieval fortified structure in not only France, but in all of Europe. It is a donjon tower that was added by Philip VI (1293-1350) in 1337. It was further fortified by the addition of a circuit of rectangular walls in the early 15th century. The Royal Keep which remains today and the fortified gate house were both completed in 1369 under the auspices of Charles V (1338-1380). The keep stands 160 feet high and is the only surviving medieval royal residence in France. Each side measures 50 feet and the walls are 10 feet thick. The château was built by Charles V in response to civil unrest during the Hundred Years War. The Hundred Years' War, a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453, pitted the Kingdom of England against the Valois Capetians for control of the French throne. Each side drew many allies into the fighting.
The other day I was searching the web for another purpose and came upon a shopping list by Michelangelo, which was part of an exhibition “Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane, Master Drawings from the Casa Buonarroti” at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Spring of 2013. The exhibit included 26 drawings preserved in the artist's family home, the Casa Buonarroti, in Florence. “Because the servant he was sending to market was illiterate”, writes the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin in a review of a Seattle Art Museum show, “Michelangelo illustrated the shopping lists – a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quarter of a rough wine’ – with rushed (and all the more exquisite for it) caricatures in pen and ink.” As we can see, the true Renaissance Man didn’t just pursue a variety of interests, but applied his mastery equally to tasks exceptional and mundane. Which, of course, renders the mundane exceptional. This scrap of ephemeral paper from the past fascinates me, the detail of the little drawings is astounding. We compose ephemera every day in the form of disposable to-do lists, directions to unvisited destinations, notes to people we know or have never met, and shopping lists of this kind. This kind of writing powers our ordered experiences, as ephemeral texts chart encounters before being rendered useless. Collected, disposable shopping lists create an archive of everyday artifacts that we can peruse for traces of the everyday both past and present. I thought I would present a few more examples and explore the origins of writing such lists.
Descartes is the father of modern philosophy, abstract, mathematical and scientific. In mathematics he is the father of algebraic geometry and laid the groundwork for the calculus of Newton and Leibnitz. In general Descartes rejected empirical knowledge for experimental confirmation, the throwing out several millennia of Aristotelian “science”. He even rejected the existence of his own body and the sensations provided by it. All knowledge must be proven and it set the stage for the enlightenment and rationalism. He developed an early form of the law of conservation of mechanical momentum. “Thus, God imparted various motions to the parts of matter when he first created them, and he now conserves all this matter in the same way, and by the same process by which he originally created it; and it follows from what we have said that this fact alone makes it most reasonable to think that God likewise always conserves the same quantity of motion in matter.” I hear echos of the conservation of mass espoused by Levoisier, the father of modern chemistry, Leibniz conservation of energy, Joule's mechanical equilalence of heat and even Einstein's conservation of matter and energy.