A window into the past…
Guedelon, a one-of-a-kind initiative for the building of a packed hereditary palace in the style of those ancient ages, is a must-see for those interested in seeing actual 13th-century European lifestyle. The authors of Lemurov.net point out that this is not a tourist attraction, but rather a history and contemporary one, a sort of time trial. The palace is being constructed entirely using Middle Ages methods and is expected to be completed by 2023. With the exception of violent executions and the plague, it contains all of the trappings of the period.
It all began in 1997, when aficionados Michel Guyot and Marilyn Martin resolved to recreate life in the Middle Ages for a century, not in bits and pieces, but in its entirety. The notion of creating a castle sprang from the necessity for a global endeavour with a central core. Everything is recounted precisely and intricately: in 1226, during the insurrection of the southern provinces, the petty feudal lord, Lord Gilbert, joined the side of the king, for which he was given the authority and a small sum of money to build his castle. Go!
The program is intended to last 25 years, with each year roughly corresponding to a year in the thirteenth century. That is, intensive work is only possible during the summer, and throughout the winter, you will be responsible for food safety and heating, as well as completing tasks. Participants in the experiment, which currently numbers 55 people from various vocations, do not risk contracting an incurable sickness, nor do they have to fight neighbouring landowners or protect themselves from animals in the wild. They’re merely erecting a castle, oblivious to the 300,000 visitors who flock here each year to gaze at it. This is still a significant source of revenue.
Animal rights advocates may be outraged, yet in the 13th century, there was no other draught force than horses. There is a water mill here, and modest engineering techniques such as blocks, levers, and rudimentary pulleys are actively used in building. Stones are hewn by hand, timber is likewise sawn, clay combinations are used instead of concrete, and you are not allowed to eat fast food or even frog legs.
Some of the information was gleaned from old sources, while others had to be created from scratch – after all, who in the twenty-first century knows how much broken shells are required per kilogram of sand and dung to make the combination moisture-resistant? The masons cut the stone too precisely, and this is a wedding, the designers employ formulae for estimating constructions that did not exist at the time, and the cook adds spice to the soup in secret. Where does it come from in the diet if we haven’t yet discovered America? Oh, how difficult it was to live in the Middle Ages…
The place of the castle’s building was chosen based on the availability of surrounding building materials. From a historical perspective, this is absurd, because the castle was supposed to protect shipping lanes and boundaries, but it was easier to organize it all with the government. If geese and turnips can still be produced nearby in the garden, then dump trucks full of stones and refrigerators full of semi-finished goods would be entirely out of place on a construction area. Builders, on the other hand, must make a living.