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Travellers: commoners and royalty alike - Portraits de Loire à la Renaissance 6/6

Published on 06 January 2020 - Updated 04 January 2021
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The 6th and final episode of our web series "Portraits de Loire à la Renaissance" is devoted to travellers through the Loire Valley – commoners and royalty alike.

Since the Kingdom revolved around its castles and their surrounding areas, the River Loire was a key thoroughfare during Renaissance times.  

It was used by royal families, ambassadors and their retinues and other political gatherings. It even sometimes carried the remains of important figures.  

On each of these occasions, the towns and cities along its banks organised fitting, symbolically-charged welcomes, often taking their cue from classical history.  

At the same time, the river remained available to the common folk who frequented its banks and towns, and was a source of inspiration to countless poets. 

The Loire Valley World Heritage site and the Renaissance

The landscape of the Loire Valley, and more particularly its many cultural monuments, illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment on western European thought and design.  

The political and social history of France and Western Europe in the Middle Ages as well as during the Renaissance, the period when the Loire Valley was a seat of royal power, is illustrated by the buildings and castles that have made it famous: Benedictine abbeys first of all, then medieval fortresses, transformed during the Renaissance into country houses for recreation and pleasure, with gardens and vistas open to the countryside. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Loire Valley constituted a major cultural area for encounters and influences between the Italian Mediterranean, France and Flanders, and participated in the development of garden art and the emergence of interest in the landscape.   

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© ABFPM / Olivier Sampson

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