Thursday, 1 November 2012

A Medieval Town - Troyes...

Troyes was the medieval capital of the county of Champagne, and as soon as it became clear  that Troyes lay at the heart of the Knights of Champagne novels, I longed to go there.  Trying to get to grips with the lie of the land is very inspiring.  New ideas start cropping up, even if, as is the case in Troyes, the time you are focussing on is hidden beneath several centuries of history.

Today, the streets of medieval Troyes are film-set beautiful.  The houses were built after the time of the Knights of Champagne, but they give an idea of the layout of the earlier town.   They show how the houses were crammed together.

At the tourist information office, there is a model of medieval Troyes.   (You really know you are in Champagne, the old town was shaped like a champagne cork!)
The plan probably isn't quite large enough for you to pick out all the detail, but Troyes was a walled city, with a dry moat that often as not was used as a rubbish tip by the citizens.   The town was criss-crossed with canals and waterways - these were used for transport, and to power watermills.
The area at the top left of this plan is where Troyes Castle used to stand.  (The castle was built on the site of the old Roman garrison.)  The Count of Champagne had a separate palace which he used as his residence, Troyes Castle was for his soldiers and retainers, for the Guardian knights who patrolled the town at the time of the trade fairs.  (The Winter Fair and the Summer Fair.)   In many ways, the castle was like an office, it was used for official county business.

In this enlargement, taken by my husband, the round building (top left) represents the castle.  The cathedral (towards the centre of this shot) has been given a blue roof.   And I am guessing that the building with the orange roof (just below the cathedral and next to the canal) is Count Henry's palace.  The Abbey is just across the canal from it (orange roof).

This waterway runs past the site of Troyes Castle...

One of the narrow streets as it is today.

The building below is gorgeous - sadly, it's later than the twelfth century, but we had a very nice lunch just staring at it!

The first Knights of Champagne novel will be out in July 2013.  It's entitled Lady Isobel's Champion.

More details about these novels will follow later...