Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ozark Medieval Fortress - Closed for 2012 season

It is with a heavy heart that I bear this sad news.

The owners of the Ozark Medieval Fortress have reached the difficult decision to not reopen in the 2012 season. The Ozark Medieval Fortress had closed for the winter season in November, but now its future is uncertain.

For those who were unaware, the Ozark Medieval Fortress is a construction project using thirteenth century building techniques to build a medieval fortress in Arkansas.

Here is the architect's drawing of what it looked like after one year of construction and when it opened to the general public in 2010.

They had received a lot of notice and publicity for the project, but not enough tourists to make it financially viable to continue.

The History Channel with their program of "Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy" filmed an episode which has yet to air about the OMF. I had hoped that such a national broadcast could help generate nationwide interest and tourism, but instead perhaps it will help the owners
who are currently looking for a buyer or an investor.

It is a wonderful project and one that I believe will ultimately be like the Field of Dreams baseball diamond in Kansas where "if you build it they will come."

Unfortunately, the droves of people have not arrived yet in order for the owners to continue.

Please spread the word about this opportunity in your medievalist communities and if you are going to the International Congress on Medieval Studies this coming May, I urge you to mention it there as well.

I hope to speak with the owners of the Ozark Medieval Fortress soon via Skype and will let you know if they ask for anything else in the means of supporting their dream of building a medieval castle in America using traditional methods.

This is the architect's rendering of what the project would look at its completion in twenty years' time. It would be a shame if it were permanently abandoned.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In honor of Joan of Arc's 600th birthday

Jeanne d'Arc in the church in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val

Joan of Arc, or Jeanne d'Arc, was born on January 6, 1412. In honor of the recent six hundredth anniversary of her birth, I present my blog readers with pictures of Jeanne d'Arc I took while on my two research trips that I took in France.

She is revered for her courage in battle defending the nation of France against the English in the "Hundred Years War" and for her faith in God.

Jeanne d'Arc is one of the patron saints of France and is a source of nationalist pride. I saw images of Jeanne d'Arc almost everywhere in France. I have come to the belief that every French village or town will have at least one image of Jeanne d'Arc. This led me to going on my own private scavenger hunt as I entered all the various cathedrales and churches.

My mission was to find her.

Sometimes she was easy to spot while other times she hid in plain sight. Here she is above the doorway and under the rose window of the church in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. (The first photo at the top of this post shows the close up of her.)

Here she is in the most famous church of all of France.

Cathédrale Notre Dame in Paris

I had forgotten about the famous gold statue of Jeanne d'Arc in Paris near the Place des Pyramids, and did not get my own photo of this iconic statue. I chastised myself as I watched the last day of the Tour de France and watched the cyclists pass by her multiple times.

Thankfully there is a photo posted on Wikipedia with full privileges to be in the public domain, so here is a picture of that famous golden girl.

Another representation of Jeanne d'Arc I found in Paris was in Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois near the Louvre.


As I was going through my photos I discovered some duplications of statues. This same style appears in church in a small hilltop village in the Midi-Pyrenees.

Église Saint Corneille in Puycelsi

And again, this time with a golden flag in Cahors. The names behind her are the men from Cahors who gave their lives in the great wars of the twentieth century.

Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Cahors

Now with a slight twist, she is holding a stone flag.

Basilique des Saints Nazaire et Celse in Carcassonne

Here is a painted version that I rather like.

Église Saint Martin de Caniac-du-Causse

I also found a stained glass representation. Here she is in Amboise at the small church where Leonardo di Vinci is buried.

small church near Chateau Amboise

Then we have a wooden statue of Jeanne d'Arc which is now in the cathedral treasury in Reims. It is probably my least favorite of all the representations of Joan. She looks oh so stiff and lifeless.

Cathedral treasury in Reims

Inside the cathedral itself are mentions of her historic visit to Reims when she escorted Charles VII for his coronation.

And then across from the cathedral is a statue with Jeanne d'Arc appearing to be in the midst of battle.

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Reims

Jeanne d'Arc inspired not only the French, but she also inspired the Italian poets Matteo Maria Boiardo and Ludovico Ariosto. They patterned their heroine Bradamante after her. Both women were given the nickname "The Maid," rode on a white horse and wound up cropping their hair.

Thankfully, Bradamante did not suffer Jeanne d'Arc's fate of being persecuted, arrested, and executed as a heretic. Another major difference was that Bradamante was respected by her king and was not looked at as a threat. It also helps that Charlemagne was coronated long before his warrior niece was born.

Part of my fascination with Jeanne d'Arc is her iconic representation of a woman warrior while still projecting her humanity as well as femininity.

I wish that I had found images of Bradamante as a French heroine throughout France, but instead had to settle for Jeanne d'Arc. In another post, I shall share with you the images of Athena I found throughout France showing more examples of the archetype of the warrior woman.

I want to thank Jeff Sypeck for cluing me into this important anniversary while showing that a statue of Jeanne d'Arc in Washington, D.C., (a duplicate of the one outside Reims Cathedral), has been restored to her full glory with a new sword and a good scrub.

If you have any thoughts about Joan of Arc I would love to hear them. Even if you happen to believe, like those excellent dudes Bill and Ted, that she used to be Noah's wife.

Edited to add: I now have a board on Pinterest dedicated to Jeanne d'Arc (or Jehanne). It is ever expanding with images of this amazing saint.