Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe
Sabine Baring-Gould

Part 3 out of 6

day harassed by watching against enemies, and yet are compelled to buy
them off with _patis_ and pensions, so that the greater portion of
their substance is consumed in this way;--therefore, &c."

commanding the road to Cahors. Several chambers are excavated out of
the rock.]

In 1450 the English were driven out of Guyenne, but a fresh attempt to
recover it was made, that ended in the defeat and death of Talbot, in
1453. The Companies had then to dissolve. Out of a thousand churches in
Quercy but four hundred were in condition for the celebration of divine
service; many had been converted into fortresses. Most of the little
towns in Upper Quercy had lost the major portion of their inhabitants;
the villages were void of inhabitants. None knew who were the heirs to
the deserted houses and untilled fields.

[Footnote: "Agros atque Lares proprios, habitandaque fana
Apres reliquit, et rapacibus lupis,
Ire, pedes quocunque ferent,"

--HORACE, _Epod. Od._, 16.]

An emigration from Limousin and the Rouergue was called for to repeople
the waste places. Grammat, that had been a thriving town, in 1460 was
left with only five inhabitants, Lavergne with but three. Lhern, once a
flourishing place, was absolutely desert, the fields covered with
briars and thorns, not one house tenanted, and in the church a she-wolf
had littered her cubs.

Throughout the country can be distinguished the churches built when the
war was over--quadrangular structures, without ornament.

Two of the strongest fortresses held by the English in Perigord were
Bigaroque and the Roc de Tayac. The former belonged to the Archbishop
of Bordeaux, staunch in his adhesion to the English cause, and he
placed a garrison in it. The French did not attempt a siege, but in
1376 they raised a large sum in the neighbourhood and bought the
garrison out. Either they culpably neglected to place troops in it, or
were too weak to do so, and in 1386 the English reoccupied it without a
blow, and made it a centre whence they pillaged the country up to 1408.
In 1409 the Constable of France, however, laid siege to it and the
garrison capitulated, on condition that all prisoners taken by the
French should be set free. The French then demolished the
fortifications, but did this so inefficiently that in 1432 the English
had again established themselves therein. It was not recovered by the
French till 1443; somewhat later the Companies disbanded, and then they
so completely destroyed the fortress that of it nothing now remains.

The other stronghold was the Rock of Tayac. The white cliff streaked
with black tears rises to the height of 300 feet, and is precipitous.
Throughout the whole length it is lined and notched and perforated,
showing tokens of having been a combination of cliff caves, and wooden
galleries, connecting the caves, as also of structures at the base of
the crag. These latter have disappeared, having been torn down when the
castle was demolished, but the indications of the roofs remain. There
were several storeys in the fortress. In one cave is a stable reached
by a ladder, also a well that was driven from an upper cavern through
the roof of the stable and through its floor to the level of the river.
The oven of these freebooters hanging in mid-cliff remains, guard-rooms
are still extant, and the principal upper storey is now turned into a
hotel, as already mentioned, but in so doing the stable has been
injured and the well filled up. The hotel is reached by a ladder.

[Illustration: CHATEAU DES ANGLAIS, BRENGUES. This castle occupied by
the Free Companies, is now wholly inaccessible. The goat-path below was
closed, above and below, by gate-houses and guard-rooms.]

[Illustration: CHATEAU DU DIABLE, CABRERET, LOT. A castle on a narrow
ledge of rock above the River Cele, built by the Bastard of Albert,
circ. 1380, and held for the English.]

From this vultures' nest the Ribauds devastated the neighbourhood and
the Sieur des Eyzies on the opposite side of the river, and who was on
the French side, was powerless against them. In company with the
garrison of Bigaroque they surprised Temniac near Sarlat, S. Quentin
and Campagnac, in 1348, but were shortly after dislodged by the
Seneschal of Perigord from these acquisitions.

In 1353 they surprised the church and fortress of Tursac and the castle
of Palevez. The men of Sarlat hastened to recover Tursac, bringing with
them some machines of war, named La Bride, Le Hop, Le Collard, and
l'Asne, that flung stones and bolts and pots of flaming tar and
sulphur. They managed to drive the English out of Tursac, but were
unable to recover the other castle.

In 1401, at the solicitation of the Baron of Limeuil, they took and
utterly destroyed the town and castle of La Roche Christophe, as shall
be related in full in the sequel. On 4th December 1409, the Constable
of France having ruined Bigaroque, besieged the Rock of Tayac, and it
was taken after a gallant defence on 10th January 1410, demolished and
reduced to the condition in which we see it now. Then a tax was levied
throughout Perigord to pay for the cost of the sieges of Bigaroque and
the Rock of Tayac.

We will now pass from Perigord to Quercy. Here the English Companies
held the valley of the Lot from below Capdenac to the gates of Cahors,
except the impregnable towns of Cajarc and Calvignac.

Flowing into the Lot at Conduche is the river Cele that descends from
Figeac. This river was also in the grip of the English.

Below Figeac the limestone precipices first appear at Corn, and the
cliff is full of caves in which there are remains of fortifications.
The cliff is not beautiful, but is wondrous strange, white, draped with
fallen folds of stalactite, black as ink, as though a tattered funeral
pall had been cast over it. Corn was a feof of the family of Beduer,
one of the five most powerful in Quercy. In 1379 Perducat, the Bastard
of Albret, an English Captain, occupied Corn, but sold it to John,
Count of Armagnac, Seneschal of Quercy; after having marched out and
pocketed his money, he turned round, marched in again, and set to work
to fortify the caves. He made the citizens of Cajarc contribute to the
expense of this proceeding, and even required them to send masons to
assist him in the work; but as they were loyal subjects of the French
King they demurred at this, and he substituted additional money payment
for personal service. He then pushed down the Cele valley to Cabrerets
near where it debouches into the Lot, and in 1383 he fortified the
caves of Espagnac, Brengues, Marcillac, Sauliac, and built the chateau
du Diable at Cabrerets. The Count d'Armagnac sent troops to dislodge
him, but failed.

In the rock of Corn, a little higher up the river than the village, is
the Grotto du Consulat, reached by a path along a narrow ledge. To this
the villagers were wont to gather to elect their magistrates without
interference from the Bastard of Albret. Within is a bench cut in the
rock, and the roof is encrusted with stalactite formations like
cauliflowers. Immediately above the village is a much larger cavern 72
feet high and 36 feet deep. It is vaulted like a dome, and tendrils of
ivy and vine hang down draping the entrance. Violets grow in purple
masses at the opening, and maiden-hair fern luxuriates within. At the
extreme end, high up, to be reached only by a ladder of forty rungs, is
another opening into a cave that runs far into the bowels of the
Causse, to where the water falls in a cascade that now flows forth
beneath the outer cave and supplies the village with drinking water and
a place for washing linen. Hard by the great entrance is another cave
situated high up, and called the Citadel, much smaller, access to which
is obtained by a narrow track in the face of the rock, with notches cut
in the limestone to receive the beams and struts that supported a
wooden gallery which once provided easy access to the cave. I did not
myself climb up and investigate the citadel, not having a steady head
on the edge of a precipice, and what information I give was received
from the cure, who seemed very much amused at my shirking the scramble,
and thought that the Englishman of to-day must be very different from
the Englishman of the fourteenth century who crawled about these cliffs
like a lizard. According to him, the cave within shows signs of having
been occupied, and has in it a squared and smoothed block of stone nine
feet long, at which Perducat and his ruffians doubtless caroused, as at
a table.

[Illustration: CORN, LOT. Caves occupied by the Routiers. That above
the large one was formerly reached by a gallery of wood. It contains
the stone table at which the Routiers gambled and drank.]

In the village of Corn is the picturesque chateau of the family of
Beduer built after the abandonment of the place by the English. It is
now occupied by poor families. A little farther down the valley is the
castle of Roquefort, which was also annexed by the Captain. It is near
the Church of S. Laurent, where was a village that was destroyed by the
Company. The church itself was blown up later by the Huguenots.
Roquefort is dominated by a precipice, at the foot of which lies a huge
mass of rock that has broken off from the cliff, and on this rock a
castle has been erected. It belonged to the family of Lascasas. One of
these fell at Resinieres in a duel with the Seigneur of Camboulet; but
his adversary survived him only a few minutes, and both were buried on
the spot with three stones at their heads and two at their feet. When
the new road was being made their skeletons were found. The stones
remain _in situ_.

In 1361 Cahors was in possession of the English. The bishop unwilling
to recognise the King of England as his sovereign retired to the Castle
of Brengues in the Cele valley that pertained to his family, the
Cardaillacs, and thence governed his diocese. There he died 3rd
February 1367, and his successor also occupied the Castle of Brengues.
But in 1377 it was captured by an English Company under Bertrand de la
Salle, and in 1380 it was held by Bertrand de Besserat, to whom it was
delivered over by Perducat d'Albret.

There are two very remarkable castles at Brengues; both were fortified
by Perducat and Besserat. One hangs like a swallow's nest under the
eaves of the overhanging rock, and is now wholly inaccessible, so much
so that it is in perfect preservation. The river flows far below, and a
_talus_ of rubble runs up to the foot of the cliff, along which
_talus_, on a narrow terrace, is a path. This path was defended
both above and below the castle by gates that were battlemented and to
which guard-rooms were attached. The pensile castle is not large. It
was entered at one side, and has in its face three roundheaded windows.

The other castle of Brengues is perforated in an angle of rock, at a
great elevation, and consists of several chambers. The cave at the
angle was walled up and furnished with doorway and windows.

Near where the Cele flows into the Lot is the little town of Cabrerets.
Here the precipice of fawn-coloured limestone overhangs like a wave,
curling and about to break. On a ledge under it, and above the river
and the road and the houses, is the Devil's Castle, built by Perducat
d'Albret and Bertrand de Besserat. The latter held it from 1380 to
1390, but then, at the entreaty of the neighbourhood, the Seigneur
Hebraud de Saint-Sulpice at the head of levies laid siege to the castle
and took it.

The castle has one of its walls of rock; only that towards the river
and the two ends are structural, as is also a round tower. A portion of
the castle has been pulled down; it has served as a quarry for the
houses beneath, but a good deal still remains. The tower is about 20
feet in diameter. The entrance hall, lighted by windows, is 70 feet
long and 40 feet wide. A second hall, partly hewn out of the rock, with
recesses for cupboards and seats and with fireplace, is 42 feet long.
The oven remains in a ruinous condition. The castle is reached by steps
cut in the rock.

scramble up a steep, and then by a ledge in a precipice. Some chambers
are scooped out of the rock. When the English were besieged, they
escaped by a goat-path, to a point whence hung a rope from a tree
above, and up this they swarmed.]

Below Conduche, where the Cele enters the Lot, the road runs under
tremendous precipices of orange and grey limestone, in which the track
has been cut; and the road would be totally blocked by a huge buttress
split down the middle had not a tunnel for it been cut. As the Roman
road ran this way, the original tunnel was made by the Masters of the
World, but it has been widened of late years. Commanding the road and
the tunnel, planted in the cleft of the rock, is a castellated
structure, that also owes its origin to the captains who fortified the
Cele caves.

None could pass up or down the road without being spied and arrested,
and made to pay toll by the garrison of this fort. [Footnote: So early
as the eleventh or twelfth century there was not a small river, as the
Cele and the Aveyron, on which tolls were not levied.]

The Cahors Chronicle says of this period: "Deinde fuit in praesenti
patria mala guerra. Anglicis et Gallis hinc inde repraedentibus, unde
evenit victualium omnium maxima caristia. Nullus civis Caturci villam
exire erat ausus, omnia enim per injustitiam regebatur." If the
merchants and provision wains for Cahors were not robbed at the Defile
des Anglais, they were subjected to toll. The interior of the chasm
reveals a whole labyrinth of passages and vaults dug out in the heart
of the calcareous rock. The chambers had openings as windows looking
out upon a river, and the rock was converted into a barrack that could
accommodate a large garrison.

The last of the rock fastnesses of the _routiers_ that I purpose
describing is of a totally different character from the rest. It is at
Peyrousse in the Rouergue, in the department of Aveyron. Peyrousse is a
village, but was once a fortified town on a height, with its church and
church tower standing on the highest point and visible from a great
distance. It rises above a deep valley or ravine. The houses are all
old, and many of them in ruins. The church, dating from 1680, is not
ineffective; there are, however, the ruins of a Gothic church farther
down the hill. One of the embattled gates of the town is still
standing, as well as a tower erroneously supposed to be the bell tower
of the ruined church, actually part of the fortification of the place.
Projecting from the side of the hill on which stands Peyrousse, partly
attached to it, but for the most part detached, is a ridge of schist
starting 300 feet above the stream below, in one sheer precipice, and
precipitous on every side. It is perhaps 300 feet long, and rises like
a blade of an axe; at each extremity of this ridge is a lofty tower--
one, the farthest, open at the side. To erect these towers it must have
been necessary to level a portion of the sharp edge on which they rest.
Between them one could walk only with a balancing pole like a tight-
rope dancer, as there is a sheer fall on each side. The rock is called
Les Roches du Tailleur, as having been appropriated by a captain who
cut folk's coats according as he wanted the cloth. How the builders
climbed to this height, how they managed to carry up their material,
and how they achieved the building of these towers, is impossible to
conjecture. The tradition is, that when the English quitted Peyrousse
they destroyed the means of ascent, and since 1443 no human being has
been able to climb the rock and visit the towers, that for nearly five
hundred years have had no other denizens than ravens and jackdaws. But
that is not all the puzzle of the Tailor's Rock. It is supposed that
there was a wooden castle between the towers. There is no indication of
there having been a stone structure.

defile of the Brenta; 100 feet above the road. It was capable of
containing a garrison of 500 men. It was taken from the Venetians by
Maximilian in 1509. It is between Primolano and Cismone.]

[ILLUSTRATION: LA ROCHE DU TAILLEUR. Remains of a castle on a
precipitous rock at Reyrousse, Aveyron; it was held by the English
Routiers, who, when they abandoned it, destroyed the means of access,
since which time it has been inaccessible.]

But if so, how was it balanced, or how secured? A plank cast across the
blade would make a see-saw for an ogre and ogress, till cut through. I
endeavoured with a glass to see whether notches had been hacked in the
schist to receive stays, and others on the ridge to accommodate joists,
but could distinguish none.

Peyrousse became a Calvinist stronghold in the Wars of Religion, when
the churches were destroyed; but the Huguenots made no attempt to climb
the Tailor's Rocks and restore the castle. At the foot of the crags are
the remains of the chapel of the garrison. How did they descend to it
and mount again? I presume by a knotted rope.

A cliff castle that bears a curious resemblance to Peyrousse is Trosky,
in Bohemia, but in this latter case the rocks are of basalt, and
between the two towers the connecting rock forms a deep depression. In
1415, Johann von Herzmanmiestetz and Otto Berka of Trosk sacked the
monastery of Opatowitz, butchered most of the monks, tortured the abbot
so that he died a few days later, and carried off all the plunder they
could collect. With the spoil Otto Berka built a castle on the two
spires of rock, a tower on each, and connected them with a crescent
wall, and a gallery of communication. The walls were six feet thick,
and the foundations clamped to the rock with iron. He also contrived a
tunnel, cut in the rock to the bottom, to enable himself and his men to
ascend and descend. In 1424, however, Otto Berka was there no more. The
castle was besieged by the terrible one-eyed Hussite commander, Ziska
with the Flail, and he succeeded in capturing the lower tower after
great loss of life, but entirely failed to take the upper donjon. After
the departure of Ziska the castle was taken as a residence by Margaret,
widow of Otto Berka, who secured the lower tower, and her granddaughter
Barbara occupied the higher. These women hated each other as poison,
and to personal hate was added religious rancour, for Barbara had
embraced the party of the Utraquists. The theological quarrel was
simply about the use of the chalice at communion. The Roman Church had
withdrawn it from the people; the Utraquists asserted their right to
it; and about this question the two parties fought and slaughtered each
other, and burnt towns and castles. The tradition is that all day long,
and part of the night, the two women screamed abuse at each other from
their several towers, and desisted only for their meals, their
devotions, and necessary sleep. Folk passing along the highway would
halt and listen to the yelling and vituperation of the two shrews. Each
had her own chapel at the foot of the cliffs, in which each
ostentatiously followed the rite of which she approved; and to this day
the chapels remain. According to the local story, the cries of the
women were so strident and so continuous that all birds were scared
away from Trosky. At length Margaret died, and Bertha had become so
accustomed to scolding at the top of her voice, that she died soon
after from dissatisfaction at having lost the object of her abuse.

In 1468 Trosky was the property of William von Hasenburg, who sided
with King Mathias against George Podjebrad. After the defeat of
Mathias, Podjebrad captured Trosky, but as the owner came to terms, he
was allowed to retain his castle. The towers are all that remain of the
castle; the curtain wall has been broken down. The lower tower can be
reached by a climber with a steady head, but not without risk of life.
The higher tower is quite inaccessible. From the height a magnificent
prospect is obtained, with Prague in the distance.

To return once more to the _routiers_.

Near Mont Dore is the Roche de Sanadoire, 3660 feet high, composed of
phonolith and basaltic prisms. On the top stood the fortress of the
_routiers_, calling themselves English, under a Captain Chennel,
from 1378 to 1386, when he was caught, conveyed to Paris, and broken on
the wheel. It is not to be wondered at that the memory of the terrible
times of the English domination, and its consequence, the reign of the
_routiers_, should linger on in the memory of the people; that
every cliff castle should be a Chateau des Anglais, or a Chateau du
Diable--they mean the same thing. The peasant reads but little--history
not at all; but Jean Bonhomme looks up at the cliffs and finds the
story of the past graven there; and just as the twinge of a corn is
still felt after the foot has been amputated, so--though the English
rule has passed away, three hundred and fifty years have intervened--he
still winces, and curses the haunts "de ces cochons d'Anglais," though
in fact ces cochons were his own compatriots, doubled-dyed in iniquity,
as traitors to their country and their King.


CLIFF CASTLES--_Continued_

I took the third of the classes into which I have divided my subject of
cliff castles, first of all; and now I shall take the others in the

The Seigneurs were not greatly, if at all, to be distinguished from the
Captains of the _routiers_ in their mode of life and in their
fortresses, save only this, that the latter were elected by their
followers, and the former were on their hereditary estates and could
demand the services of their vassals. In the matter of scoundreldom
there was not a pin to choose between them. But the _routier_
chiefs were not tied to any one castle as their home; they shifted
quarters from one rock to another, from one province to another as
suited them, whereas the seigneur had his home that had belonged to his
forefathers and which he hoped to transmit to his son.

I will give but an instance.

Archibald V. (1361-1397) was Count of Perigord. He was nominally under
the lilies, but he pillaged indiscriminately in his county. Surrounded
by adventurers he planted his men in castles about Perigord, and from
that of La Rolphie "hung over the city like the sword of Damocles,"
menaced Perigueux. One little town after another was pillaged. He
intercepted the merchants on the roads. At S. Laurent-du-Manoir his
captains added outrage to injury, for they took all the women of the
place, and cut off their skirts at the knees; and one who made
strenuous resistance they killed.

In 1385, the Seneschal of Perigord, in the name of the King of France,
ordered Archibald to desist from his acts of violence. When he refused,
his lands were declared confiscated. But who was to bell the cat? He
mocked at the sentence, and was roused to fresh incursions and
pillages. At last in 1391 the Parliament acted, and summoned the Count
to appear along with twenty-three of his accomplices before its bar "to
answer for having overrun with his troops the suburbs of Perigueux; for
having assaulted the city, and neighbouring places; for having wounded
and killed a great many persons; for having incarcerated others to
extort a ransom from them; for having, like common highwaymen, seized
cattle, fired granges, mills, houses; and for having committed crimes
so infamous, so ferocious, that one would feel pain to disclose them."

Archibald paid not the slightest regard to the summons or to the
sentence pronounced against him _in contumaciam_. The law could
not enforce its judgment, and six years later in 1397 he died. The King
refused to recognise his son Archibald VI. as Count of Perigord, but
Archibald disregarded the refusal, and openly sided with the English.
He successfully resisted the troops sent against him, and continued in
the same courses as his father. At last he was brought to bay in
Montignac, where he was constrained to capitulate. He was sent to
Charles VI., but effected his escape and fled to London in 1399. Thence
he returned in 1404, and captured Auberoche, much about the time of the
English victory at Agincourt. He died in undisturbed possession of his
county of Perigord in 1430.

Few portions of France so lent itself to the requirements of the feudal
tyrants of the Middle Ages, as they did also to those of the
_routiers_, as the volcanic district of Auvergne. There the floods
of lava that flowed from the volcanoes have formed caps to hills, with
precipices on every side, cut through by the streams, that have
separated portions from the main current. Every such peak or fragment
of plateau was laid hold of by the seigneurs of old, as sites for their
fortresses. From the number of these strongholds and the almost
impregnable nature of most of them, the feudal tyrants of Auvergne were
able to hold their own, long after the rest had been brought to their
knees; and it was not until Richelieu with iron hand moved against them
that their career of rapine and violence was curbed. Beginning in 1626,
Richelieu ordered the demolition of all feudal fortresses that were not
necessary for the defence of the frontiers, and which were a permanent
menace to the King's authority, and an object of terror to town and
country, and to the nobles afforded reminiscence of past lawlessness.
The demolition was entrusted to the communes themselves. And in order
to bring the culprits to speedy judgment, he renewed the institution of
the _Grand Jours_; that of Poitiers in 1634 condemned over two
hundred nobles convicted of exactions and crimes.

But it was impossible in many places, notably in Auvergne, for the
communes to get hold of the castles and blow them up. There, for some
thirty years longer, the seigneurs defied justice, and it was much the
same elsewhere. On the 31st August 1665, the _Grand Jours_ were
announced for all the centre of France, but notice that they were to be
held had been given so long before that the guilty were allowed plenty
of time to escape out of the country, go into hiding or come to terms.
Great were the expectations of the people. Right was at length to
prevail over Might. The Day of Judgment was coming on the oppressors.
The Mighty would be put down from their seat and the humble would be
exalted in their room. A peasant wearing his cap before a noble, the
latter knocked it off his head "Pick it up," said the peasant, "or the
King will cut off your head." The seigneur obeyed.

But the result was disappointing. Only one noble had his head cut off.
Few executions were carried into effect, many were on paper. One of the
latter, a ruffian steeped in blood, defied the sentence and was
banished. Flechier in his amusing and instructive book, _Les grands
Jours d'Auvergne_, has given us a dramatic account of the trial.

Every description of intrigue was had recourse to, in order to
neutralise the effect of justice. The fair ladies of Clermont, _les
chats fourres_, as Flechier calls them, did their utmost to reduce
the severity of the judges. The Great Days lasted three months, and
ended in disappointment. Many of the worst offenders, convicted of
atrocious crimes, entered the Royal service and fought in the armies of
the King.

But if justice spared the culprits, the opportunity was accorded to
destroy their strongholds, and now little remains of these Towers of
Iniquity but the foundations, and some fragments of their massive
walls, which were generally constructed of basaltic prisms taken from
the rock that sustained the castles, laid horizontally. "Puzzolana was
mixed with the mortar used in these constructions, and without the
binding quality communicated by this ingredient, probably no cement
would have taken effect on the smooth a rid iron surfaces of the
prisms." [Footnote: Poulette Scrope, "The Extinct Volcanoes of Central
France," Lond. 1858.]

The King had indeed desired that greater severity should be used. He
wrote to the judges: "You must manage to banish oppression and violence
out of the provinces. You have begun well, and you must finish well."
At the conclusion he had a medal struck representing a slave rising
from the ground, under the protection of the sword of royalty, and with
the expressive device, _Salus provinciarum repressa potentorum

It was, however, rather the destruction of the nests than the
punishment of the Vultures that effected the work.

The Marquis de Canillac, one of the worst, escaped into Spain. He had
maintained twelve ruffians, whom he called his Apostles, who catechised
with sword and rod all who rebelled against his exactions. He levied
taxes on necessary articles of food, and when his vassals abstained
from food he fined them for not eating. He allowed none to marry
without paying into his hands half the _dot_ of the bride. His
kinsman, the Vicomte Lamotte-Canillac, was the one culprit executed.

The river Vezere, opposite to the prehistoric caves of Moustier, makes
a sudden bend about a wall of chalk 300 feet high and 1500 feet long.
"Of all the rocks that have served for the habitation of man, this is
the most striking for its dimensions and for the number of habitations
it contained, if one may give that name to the excavations which the
hand of man has appropriated to his use. Staircases were carved in the
rock, carried half-way up the height, to where the cliff has been
excavated, its recesses enlarged and divided into compartments."
[Footnote: De Roumejoux, _Bulletin de la Soc. Hist. de Perigord._
T. xix. 1892.]

This bluff is called La Roche S. Christophe. It arrests attention at
once, for half-way up it is furrowed horizontally as though worked by a
giant's tool. If the visitor approaches the cliff, he will find that
the masses of rock that have fallen from above, as well as others that
have formed spurs, have been extensively worked to form town walls,
gateways, a church, a monastery, and dwelling-houses.

One gateway, bored through the rock, has a guard-room or sentinel's
watch-chamber scooped out of a pinnacle. But not a roof remains, not a
living soul is to be seen in the street, not a huxter's stall in the
market-place, only tiles strewn about and white rocks blackened with
smoke show that man lived there.

By a flight of stairs cut in the rock, the visitor can ascend to the
furrow in the face of the cliff, and there he finds that the whole has
been elaborately utilised. There are chambers excavated in the chalk
that were formerly closed by wood partitions, with recesses for beds,
cupboards, seats--clearly the bedrooms of ladies. The grooves into
which the planks were fitted can be made out. Doors were fitted into
rocky rebates to move on their hinges, the hinges being round
prolongations of the door frame turning in holes sunk in floor and
roof. The kitchen is there, the bakehouse with its oven; the guard-room
with its benches for the troopers, cisterns, store-chambers, closets,
cellars, a chapel, and the latrines. All but the last are on a level in
one long row, with the cliff descending precipitately from the gallery
that precedes the apartments and gave communication between them and
which, in part, had been widened by means of a wooden balcony and
railing. The chapel, if that be the walled structure in a hole of the
rock, is now inaccessible. Its destination is uncertain. The peasants
so designate it.

Fragments of earthenware vessels and of tiles lie on the floors. I
could find nothing else.

Above the principal gallery are others of less importance that can only
be reached from the top of the cliff.

This Roche Saint Christophe has a history. It was first fortified by
Frotarius de Gourdon to resist the incursions of the Northmen. He was
assassinated at Mourcinez in Coursac in 991. There was a priory in the
town below, mention of which is found in a charter of 1187.

The remarkable range of chambers and structures in the face of the
precipice formed the castle of the family of Laroque. It was a worthy
family, greatly respected in the neighbourhood, and loyal to the crown
of France. The seigneur was the protector of the little town that lay

On Passion Sunday, 1401, the townsfolk and the occupants of the castle
were gathered in the church, when a cry was raised that the enemy had
swarmed over the walls and were in the town. Adhemar de Laroque was the
seigneur at the time. He hastened from the church, but already the
street was full of English, and escape to his castle was cut off, as
they had secured the stair.

Adhemar had a personal enemy, one Jean Ducos, a kinsman of the Baron de
Limeuil. These men, calculating that the garrison of La Roque would be
off its guard on that holy day, arranged with the English garrison of
the Rock of Tayac to surprise the town.

They came upon it unobserved, and breaking in, massacred the people and
the guards; then ensued a general pillage, and a conflagration. Every
house was fired after it had been ransacked, and the English Ribauds
running along the platform with torches in their hands, applied the
flame to everything combustible--doors, galleries, partitions, rafters
--all blazed, and the only portion of the castle and town that was left
unconsumed were the latrines, to which they did not consider it worth
their pains to apply their torches.

From that day to this the town of La Roche Saint Christophe has been
abandoned. No cottager has ventured to repair the ruined habitations
for his own use; as the place is esteemed haunted, notably on the night
of Passion Sunday, when a ghostly train of the dead is seen flickering
in and out of the rocks and ruins by the light of the Easter moon.

But the castle was again tenanted for awhile by a band of Huguenots,
who committed such depredations in the neighbourhood that on 30th March
1588, the Viscount of Aubeterre, Governor of Perigord issued orders--
"as the enemies of the King occupying this Castle are doing incredible
mischief to the poor folk of the neighbourhood," that they should be
expelled and the castle be utterly destroyed. [Footnote: La Roche S.
Christophe is mentioned in the letters of Petrarch. Labbe. Frag. Bp.

[Illustration: KRONMETZ. This cave castle was nominally held by nobles
in feof to the Bishop of Trent, but it actually became a den of
robbers. It was taken by storm in 1210. Count v. Firmian, to whom it
belongs, has built for himself a more convenient residence at the foot
of the rock.]

Quite as curious, and with a less tragic history is La Roche Gageac on
the Dordogne, below Sarlat. "Ma chere patrie," wrote the old
chronicler, Jean Tarde, "une petite ville bien close et tres forte
dependant de la temporalite de l'evesque de Sarlet, _la quelle ne fut
jamais prinse par les Anglais_."

The white Jurassic limestone dappled orange, fawn colour, and silver
grey, rises 250 feet above the river, the lower portion is in terraces,
very narrow, on which are the houses clinging to the rock, cramped
between the Dordogne and the cliff which rises 140 to 160 feet above.
The old houses are echeloned along the face of the rock, superposed the
one on the other, calcined by the sun as they face south, and the rock
behind cuts off all northern winds and reflects the glare of the
southern sun. This explains the vegetable precocity of the spot, where
wallflowers, cactus, roses, luxuriate. It would be too hot were it not
for the abundant springs, and the proximity to the Dordogne down which
a cool air is wafted.

The habitations are either partly or wholly caves, they do not reach
half-way up the rock which overhangs to the west. In the face of the
cliff are two castles built into its recesses, one pertained to the
Bishop of Sarlat, and the other to the Fenelon family. Both were ideals
of a stronghold in the Middle Ages, impossible to escalade or to
undermine. In the fifteenth century La Roche Gageac was a walled town
containing five chateaux of noble families, juxtaposed and independent
of each other, although comprised within the same enclosure. Originally
indeed all were under the Bishop of Sarlat, but the Popes had set the
example of jobbery for the benefit of their sons and nephews, and the
Bishops were not slow to follow the lead. One Bishop made over the
principal castle to his brother as a hereditary feof, and others
disposed of the rest for money down, so that by the second half of the
sixteenth century the town had been dismembered. Although it had held
out against the English, when thus broken up among several, it could
not defend itself against the Calvinists, who took, burned and sacked
it in 1574. They killed three Sarlat priests. It was retaken by the
Royal troops in 1575, but it again fell into the hands of the
Calvinists in 1588, and the wreckage of its ecclesiastical buildings
dates from those two captures.

The principal castle, that which belonged to the Bishop of Sarlat,
occupies one of the profound horizontal furrows in the face of the
rock, that are so common in the limestone and chalk formations. It
consists of three towers, two of which are square and one round, with
curtains uniting them, and a gate-tower, to which a flight of steps cut
in the rock gives access for a part of the way. But to reach this
flight one has to mount by a series of posts serving as steps driven
into sockets in the rock, with only here and there a sustaining iron
bar. Below the structure are chambers, possibly prisons, but more
probably store rooms dug out of the rock. In this castle one of the
Bishops of Sarlat, in stormy times, lived continuously, and there died.
How was his body carried down the stair? Probably it was lowered by

I cannot quit La Roche Gageac without a word on one of its most
illustrious natives, Jean Tarde, born there in 1561 the friend of
Galileo, and who, the first in France, five years after the great
Florentine had begun to search the skies with his telescope, invented
one year previously, erected his tube here at one of the openings of
this eagle's nest, and during ten consecutive years pursued his
astronomic studies. He was a remarkable man in many ways. He was the
first to map his native Perigord, and the first to write a chronicle of
the diocese of Sarlat, a valuable work for any who would compile a
history of the Hundred Years' War, the first also to repudiate the
accepted attribution of the dolmens as altars of sacrifice, and to
indicate their true character as sepulchres. His account of the ravages
committed by the Huguenots is also valuable. The year before his birth,
in 1560, at Lalande, the Calvinists got into the town through a hole in
the wall, killed the first Consul, the Vicar, and six other priests,
and massacred a hundred of the inoffensive citizens. Sixty took refuge
in the church. The Calvinists forced such as could to ransom their
lives, and slaughtered such as were too poor to do this. He was but six
or seven years old when the Huguenot captain, the Sieur d'Assier, took
La Roque, "killing the priests and burning the churches." He was aged
twelve when Captain Vivant took Sarlat, suppressed the bishopric, and
killed three of the canons and several of the citizens. At La Chapelle-
Faucher in 1569 the heretics drove 260 peasants into the castle and
massacred them all. He was made Vicar-General to the Bishop of Sarlat,
and it was after having made a tour of the diocese in 1594 that the
idea occurred to him to write the history of his country and repair as
far as possible the loss of so many of the archives that had been
burnt. In 1599 he was made honorary chaplain to Henry IV., and in 1626
was published his _Description du pais de Quercy_. His history of
Sarlat, after remaining in MS. was at length published in 1887, but
only 150 copies were printed. Happily one is in the British Museum, and
I possess another.

Gluges is on the Dordogne near Martel, where high up in the cliff,
difficult of access, is the fortified cave-castle of Guillaume
Taillefer, son of Raymond IV., Count of Toulouse, who was created Lord
of Quercy in 972. Nearly on the level of the river is a cave half
walled up, with traces of fresco on the walls, of course much later
than the time of Taillefer. A modern house has been built on the
platform that has been levelled, and much of the wall demolished; the
upper fortified cave has an opening in the wall, pointed, of the
thirteenth or fourteenth century. In much the same condition is another
cliff castle in the rocks of the valley of the Alzou, between Grammat
and Rocamadour, a little above the cascade of the mill Du Saut.

I have elsewhere [Footnote: "A Book of the Cevennes," Lond., J. Long.]
given an account of the curious castle of La Roche Lambert at Borne in
Haute Loire, built in a basaltic cleft through which roars the river.
It is the theatre of George Sand's novel, Jean de la Roche. "I may say
without exaggeration that I was reared in a rock. The castle of my
fathers is strangely incrusted into an excavation in a wall of basalt
500 feet high. The base of this wall, with that face to face with it,
identically the same rock, forms a narrow and sinuous valley, through
which winds and leaps an inoffensive torrent in impetuous cascades. The
Chateau de la Roche is a nest of troglodytes, inasmuch as the whole
flank of the rock we occupy is riddled with holes and irregular
chambers which tradition points out as the residence of ancient
savages, and which antiquaries do not hesitate to attribute to a
prehistoric people.

"The castle of my fathers is planted high up on a ledge of rock, but so
that the conical roofs of the tower just reach above the level of the
plain. My mother having poor health, and having no other place to walk
save one tiny platform before the castle on the edge of the abyss, took
it into her head to create for herself a garden at the summit of the
crag on which we were perched midway."

In Cantal at Roqueville are the remains of a castle excavated out of
the rocks. Between Jung-Bunzlau and Boehm-Leipa in Bohemia is the rock-
castle of Habichstein. Two lakes lie in a basin of the hills that are
well-wooded up their sides, but have bare turfy crowns. The upper lake
is studded with islands. Between this and the lower lake stands an
extraordinary hump of sandstone, on a sloping _talus_. This hump
has much resemblance to a Noah's Ark stranded on a diminutive Ararat.
The rock is perforated in all directions with galleries and chambers,
and contains a stable for horses and for cattle, which, however, is no
longer accessible. On the summit of the rock rises a keep very much
resembling a Pictish broch. Habichstein belongs to the Wallenstein
family that possesses a stately schloss at the head of the upper lake.
It has been abandoned for, probably, two hundred years, as it can never
have been a comfortable residence; moreover, the sandstone is
continually breaking away. Below the hill and castle is the village. In
1811 there was a fall of the rock, and again in 1815, when it crushed
three of the houses beneath.

[ILLUSTRATION: THE PUXER LOCH, STYRIA. Supposed to have been occupied
by a shadowless man. It was still inhabited last century by an old

Another and still more curious cliff castle in Bohemia is that of
Burgstein. There are several on the frontier of the Wargau and the
Hardt in North Bohemia, where the German and Czech languages meet, but
it is not possible here to describe them all. Burgstein is the most
curious. It consists of an isolated mass of sandstone springing out of
level land, an outlying block of the Schwoik chain. Formerly it rose
out of a lake or marsh, but this is now drained. The entrance is
through a narrow gap in the rock by a flight of steps that lead into a
court on all sides surrounded by sheer precipices except towards the
North-west, where a gap was closed by a wall. Out of this court open
caves, one was formerly the smithy, another the guard-room, a third the
stable, and in a recess is the well. From the court access to the main
structure is obtained by a rift in the sandstone commanded by the
guard-room, and up which ascends a stair of 15 steps that leads to a
second rift at right angles, up which leads a further stair of 76
steps, and from the landing 37 descend to a lower portion of the rock,
a platform with a breastwork of wall, important for defence of the

The steps lead to various chambers, and to an open court that looks out
over the precipice, and has on one side scooped out of the rock a
watchman's chamber, and on the other an armoury, where pilasters on
each side supported shelves on which helmets and breastplates were
laid; and beyond this is a guard-room. The summit of the rock has on it
a lantern that lights an underground chapel, and formerly contained a
bell, also a modern summer-house. As the rock was commanded from the
south by a spur of the Schwoik range, when cannon were introduced, a
new mode of access was devised on the north side, a passage in loops
was constructed leading to the upper court. The castle called in Czech,
Stolpna, or the pillar, is first mentioned in the fourteenth century.
The great highroad to and from Boehmisch-Leipa passed near it, and it
became the stronghold of a Raubritter, Mikisch Passzer of Smoyn, who
became such a terror to the neighbourhood that the Sixtowns league of
Lausitz in 1444 attacked it with 9000 men, broke down the dam that held
back the water, and made of the rock an islet in a lake and constrained
Mikisch to surrender. Soon after, however, he recommenced his lawless
proceedings, and was again attacked in 1445, and after a siege that
lasted five weeks, forced to quit his fortress. At the end of the
seventeenth century Burgstein was converted into a hermitage and
Brother Constantine, the first hermit, either enlarged or dug out the
present chapel and built the lantern above, through which it obtains
light. He did more, he carved a figure of himself looking through a
telescope, life size, and planted on the summit of the rock. On the
occasion of the Prussian invasion of Bohemia the image was assumed to
be a spy, and the Germans fired at it and greatly damaged the figure,
and were much puzzled at being unable to prostrate the dauntless spy.
The present possessor of the rock castle has had the figure restored.
Burgstein remained the abode of a hermit till 1785, when the reforming
Joseph II. abolished all hermitages, and turned out every hermit in his
dominions. And now, back to the Jura limestone again. A few words must
be given to Kronmetz in Tirol, at the mouth of the Val di Non, opening
into the Etschthal.

[Illustration: HABICHSTEIN BOHEMIA. A castle belonging to Count
Wallenstein now abandoned owing to the falling away of portions of the
rock. It contains stable for horses and cattle, now inaccessible
without ladders.]

This castle belonged to the Bishops of Trient, and was intended by them
to serve as a place of "ward and custody" against invading or marauding

But _quis custodiet custodies_? It was granted in fief to two
brothers Von Leo, who turned it into a robbers' nest, so that the
neighbourhood rose in arms in 1210 and stormed it. Then the bishops
confided it to the Herren von Metz, and they carried on a feud with
their overlord, the bishop.

At last it came to the Counts von Firmian, who, in 1480, built a more
convenient mansion at the foot of the cliff, and turned the old castle
into a hermitage.

The castle, that is in a fair condition, occupies a broad cleft in the
rock, only accessible by a narrow path cut in the rocks on the west
side. It consists of an outer court and an inner court, protected on
the side of the precipice by a stout wall, behind which were originally
chambers, as windows in the wall and beamholes show to have been the
case. There is a donjon that reaches to the overhanging rock and a
ruinous chapel with apsidal east end. The cleft runs further east, but
is blocked with a wall.

Another cliff castle, of which Merian, in his Topographia, 1640-88,
gave a picture to arouse interest and wonder, is that of Covolo, at one
time in Tirol, now over the Italian border. His description of it is as
little accurate as his illustration. As a matter of fact, although it
is certainly a cliff castle, constructed in a cave, it is accessible on
foot, and it is by no means necessary to be conveyed to it by a
windlass. Indeed it would not be easy to erect a crane on the platform
of the castle that could haul up men and provisions from below.

A more famous fortress in a cave is that of Schallaun in the Puxerloch.
Here is a grotto in the face of the precipice, 75 feet above the
valley. The cliff itself is 4500 feet high. The castle consists of two
stages, the outer court is at a lower level than the face of the cliff,
and the opening of the grotto. Entrance was obtained through this outer
court that was reached by a path cut in the rock, and from it by a
stair also rock-hewn. A second court was reached, above this was again
a third within the cave. On the right hand the cave branches out into a
long inner cleft that was closed at one time by a door, and was
probably used as a cellar. The main cavern also runs by a narrow
passage deep into the heart of the rock to a pool of crystal clear
water, never failing. The main building--hardly a donjon, was occupied
till late in last century by an old mason who patched it up and made it
habitable. At a little distance to the east is a smaller cave also with
a wall in front of it, and this is said by the peasants to have been
the kitchen of the castle, and to have been reached by a wooden gallery
from the main building. According to tradition, Schallaun derives its
name from Chalons. In the time of Charlemagne a knight of Chalons named
Charlot eloped with a Saxon princess, and took refuge in this cave. It
became a den of thieves, and Margaret Maultasch (Pouchmouth) took and
dismantled it. According to another story the castle served as the
haunt of a shadowless man. Unlike Camizzo's hero, he had not sold his
shade to the devil, but by a lapse of nature had been born without one.
This proved to him so distressing, and so completely interfered with
his matrimonial prospects that he took refuge in the Puxerloch, where
he was in shadow all day, and his peculiarity could not be noticed; he
issued from it only on moonless nights, on one of which he carried off
a peasant maid--and she never knew that he was shadowless, for he never
allowed her to see his deficiency. Historically very little is known of
the Schallaun castle, which is to its advantage, as when these castles
are mentioned in chronicles, it is to record some deed of violence done
by the occupants. In 1472 it belonged to the knightly family of Sauran,
but they sold it. It is now the possession of the Ritter von Franckh.
[Footnote: In "Unser Vaterland, Steiermark," Stuttgart, n.d., p. 47, is
a representation of the Puxerloch, but it resembles much more Kronmetz.
It gives towers and walls and gates that do not exist in the

Perhaps the nearest approach to the Puxerloch castle in France is the
Roc de Cuze near Neussargues in Cantal. In the face of the cliff is a
cave that has been converted into a castle, a wall closes the mouth,
and there is a tower. Another fortress completely carved out of the
rock is at Roqueville.

I will now deal with the third class, rock towns and castles combined.
And I can afford space to treat of but one out of the many that would
enter more or less into the category.

Although Nottingham town does not occupy the top of a rock, its castle
that does cannot be passed by without notice, because that rock is
perforated with galleries and has in it a subterranean chapel.

The castle, now bereft of its ancient splendour, of its coronet of
towers, was built by William the Conqueror on the summit of a
precipitous height rising above the river Leen. It was dismantled by
Cromwell, and what remained was pulled down by the Duke of Newcastle,
who erected on its site the uninteresting and unpicturesque mansion
that now exists.

The castle was long considered impregnable; and to it Queen Isabel fled
with Sir Roger Mortimer, whom she had created Earl of March, and she
held it with a guard of one hundred and eighty knights. King Edward III
with a small retinue occupied the town. Every night the gates of the
fortress were locked and the keys delivered to the Queen, who slept
with them under her pillow. Sir William Montacute, with the sanction of
the young king, summoned to his aid several nobles on whose fidelity he
could depend, and obtained Edward's warrant for the apprehension of the
Earl of March. The plot was now ripe for execution. For a time,
however, the inaccessible nature of the castle rock, and the vigilance
with which the gates were guarded, appeared to present an insuperable
obstacle to the accomplishment of their designs. However, Sir William
Eland, Constable of the Castle, was won over, and he agreed to admit
the conspirators. In the words of an old chronicler, the Constable said
to Montacute, "Sir, woll ye unterstande that the yats (gates) of the
castell both loken with lokys, and Queen Isabell sent hidder by night
for the kayes thereof, and they be layde under the chemsell of her
beddis-hede unto the morrow ... but yet I know another weye by an aley
that stretchith out of the ward, under the earthe into the castell,
which aley Queen Isabell ne none of her meayne, ne the Mortimer, ne
none of his companye knoweth it not, and so I shall lede you through
the aley, and so ye shall come into the castell without spyes of any
man that bith your enemies." On the night of October 19, 1340, Edward
and his loyal associates before midnight were guided through the
subterranean passage by Eland, and burst into the room where the Earl
of March was engaged in council with the Bishop of Lincoln and others
of his friends. Sir Hugh Trumpington, Steward of the Household, a
creature of Mortimer, attempting to oppose their entrance, was slain.
The Earl himself was seized, in spite of the entreaties of Isabel, who,
hearing the tumult, rushed from her chamber, crying "Fair son, spare my
gentle Mortimer!" Both were secured. The next day, Edward announced
that he had assumed the government, and summoned a Parliament to meet
at Westminster on the 26th November. No sooner had this Parliament met
than a bill of impeachment was presented against Mortimer. The peers
found all the charges brought against him to be "notorously true, known
to them, and all the people." And he was sentenced to be drawn and
hanged as a traitor. Mortimer was executed at Tyburn, and the Queen
Mother was sent under ward to the manor of Rising. The passage by which
the conspirators entered, and by which the Earl was conveyed away, goes
by the name of Mortimer's Hole to the present day.

were to attempt to deal with castles and towns on rocky heights I would
have to fill pages with descriptions of Capdenac, Najarc, Minerve, Les
Baux, San Marino, San Leo, and many another, but inasmuch as they are
_on_ rocks instead of being _in_ rocks, I must pass them over.

A fourth class of cliff castle, neither the habitation of a
_routier_ nor the residence of a feudal seigneur, is that which
commands an important ford, or the road or waterway to a town, and
which was, in point of fact, an outpost of the garrison.

I can describe but a few.

The Emperor Honorius had conceded to the Visigoths all that portion of
Gaul that lay between the Loire and the Pyrenees. The Visigoths were
Arians. Far from imitating the Romans, who respected the religion of
the vanquished, and cared only that the peoples annexed to the Empire
should submit to their administrative and military organisation, the
Visigoths sought to impose Arianism on the nations over whom they
exercised dominion. The bishops and priests protested energetically
against this tyranny, and the Visigoths sought to break their
resistance by persecution and exile, but gained nothing thereby save
bitter hostility. In the year 511 an event took place that gave to the
Aquitanians their religious liberty. The Franks were their deliverers.

Clovis, who coveted the rich provinces of the South, profited by the
religious antagonism existing between the Aquitanians and the Goths to
gain the confidence of the bishops to whom he promised the destruction
of Arian supremacy. And as he had obtained the strongest and most
numerous adhesions in Poitou he resolved there to strike a decisive

He prepared his expedition with such secrecy and moved with such
celerity that Alaric II., King of the Visigoths, did not become aware
of his peril till the army of Clovis was on the confines of his realm.
He threw himself into Poitiers, and assembled all the forces he was
able to call together. Clovis crossed the Loire at Tours, and directed
his march towards Poitiers; he passed over the Creusse at Port de
Pilles, and reached the Vienne. The season was the end of September,
and there had been so much and such continuous rain that the river was
swollen, and he could not cross. Accordingly he and his army ascended
it on the right bank seeking for a ford.

He reached Chauvigny, where was a ford, but this was now found
impracticable. On the left hand of the present road to Lussac-le-
Chateau is a stony, narrow, waterless valley, up which formerly ran the
old Roman highway. At the 21/2 kilometre stone is a dense thicket of oak
coppice, clothing the steep side of the valley. By scrambling down
this, clinging to the oak-branches, one reaches a bluff of chalk rock,
hollowed out by Nature at the foot to the depth of 10 feet, and running
horizontally to the length of from 32 to 34 feet, and terminating in a
natural barrier of rock. It contracts in one place so as to form two
chambers. Now this gallery is closed towards the valley by a screen of
six huge slabs 8 and 9 feet long, 8 and 9 feet high, and 4 feet thick.
They have apparently been slung down from above, and caught and planted
so as to wall up the open side of the recess. And at the north end
another block, now broken, was set at right angles so as to half close
the gallery at the end, leaving a doorway for access to the interior.
The attempt to plant these huge slabs on a steep slope was not in every
case successful, for a couple slid down the incline, but these served
to form a heel-catch to those who did remain erect. Local antiquaries
pronounce this to be a fortified cave, unique of its kind, devised to
protect the road to Lussac, at the strategical point where it could
best be defended. I have myself no manner of doubt that it was a so-
called demi-dolmen, a tribal ossuary of neolithic man. Not only is it
quite in character with his megalithic remains scattered over the
country, but treasure-seekers who in digging displaced and brought down
one of the side slabs found two diorite axes, one of which I was
fortunate enough to secure. Persons in Gaulish or post-Roman times
would not have dreamed of going to the enormous labour and attempting
the difficult task of forming the sides with stone slabs, but would
have closed the recess with a wall. The cave goes by the name of La
Grotte de Jioux (of Jove) which in itself hints its remote antiquity.

monastery commonly called Papists' Holes, abandoned at the Dissolution,
was finally wrecked by the Roundheads in the Civil Wars.]

But, although I do not believe that this cave was constructed as a
military vidette and guard-house, I have no doubt whatever that it may
have been so used, and it is very probable that at this point took
place the first brush of Clovis and his Franks with the enemy, for the
valley bears the name of Le Vallon des Goths. Alaric knew, what Clovis
did not, that there was a ford at Lussac, and if he had any military
foresight, he would plant a body of men across the road in the throat
of the valley to intercept the Franks on their way. As it was, the
Franks pushed on, and seeing a deer wade across the river at Lussac,
raised exultant shouts, plunged into the Vienne, and crossed. The
result was the battle of Voulon, in which the Arian Goths were
defeated, and their empire broken down. [Footnote: This decisive battle
is located at Vouille to the north-west of Poitiers; but local
historians are convinced that the site was Voulon to the south of
Poitiers. See Thibaudeau, _Abrege de l'Histoire de Poitou_, Niort,
1889.] The Grotto of Jioux was but an accidental outpost, but those I
am about to describe were artificially contrived for that purpose.

In the broad valley of Le Loir below Vendome, the great elevated chalk
plateau of Beauce has been cut through, leaving precipitous white
sides. At one point a buttress of rock has been thrown forward that
dominates the road and also the ford over the river. Its importance was
so obvious that it was seized upon in the Middle Ages and converted
into a fortress. The place is called Le Gue du Loir. Not far off is the
Chateau of Bonnaventure, where Antoine de Bourbon idled away his time
drinking Surene wine, and carrying on an intrigue with a wench at le
Gue, whilst his wife, Jeanne d'Albret, was sending gangs of bandits
throughout her own and his territories to plunder, burn, and murder in
the name of religion. But Antoine cared for none of these things. At
Bonnaventure he composed the song:--

Si le roi m'avait donne
Paris, sa grande ville,
Et qu'il me fallait quiter
L'amour de ma mie,
Je dirai au roi Henri (III.)
Reprenez votre Paris,
J'aime mieux ma mie
Au Gue,
J'aime mieux ma mie.

Moliere introduced a couplet of this lay into his Alceste.

[ILLUSTRATION: LA ROCHE CORAIL. A cave fortress commanding the river
Charante. The large opening is formed by breaking away a doorway and
windows; the doorway communicated with a wooden balcony leading to
other chambers in the rock.]

discharging missiles, and for spearing those attempting to attack the
garrison in its stronghold.]

The rock has been excavated throughout, and in places built into, and
on to. Two flights of steps cut in the cliff give access to the main
portion of the castle. That on the right leads first of all to the
Governor's room, hewn out of a projecting portion of the rock floored
with tiles, with a good fireplace and a broad window, commanding the
Loir and allowing the sun to flood the room. The opening for the window
formerly contained a casement. There is a recess for a bed, and there
are in the sides numerous cupboards and other excavations for various
purposes. This chamber is entered through that of the sentinel, which
was also furnished with a fireplace. The stair leads further up to a
large hall artificially carved out of the chalk, but not wholly, for
there had been originally a natural cavern of small dimensions, which
had a gaping opening. This opening had been walled up with battlements
and loopholes, but the old woman to whom the rock or this portion of
the rock belongs, and who is a cave-dweller at its foot, has demolished
the wall to breast-height, so as to let the sun and air pour in, for
she uses the cave as a drying place for her wash. From this hall or
guard-room two staircases cut in the rock lead to other chambers also
rock-hewn higher up.

The second main stair outside gives access to a second series of

Unfortunately, some rather lofty modern buildings have been erected in
front of this cliff castle, so as to render it impossible to make of it
an effective sketch or to take a satisfactory photograph.

Still more interesting is La Roche Corail below Angouleme on the river
Charente, opposite Nersac and the confluence of the Boeme with the
Charente. Where is now a bridge was formerly a ford. The castle of
Nersac commanded one side of the valley, and La Roche Corail the other.
This cliff castle was at one time very extensive. The rock rises from a
terrace partly natural and partly artificial, on which a comparatively
modern chateau has been erected that masks the rock-face. But on
entering the court behind the chateau the bare cliff is seen with a
yawning opening halfway up, and indentations in the wall of rock show
that at one time there were hanging barbacans and chambers suspended
before the rock as well as others hewn out of it.

To reach the interior it is necessary to enter a grange that has been
built at right angles to the rock, and in it to mount a ladder to
another granary that occupies a floor of solid rock. Thence a second
ladder leads into the caves. Formerly, however, the ascent was made by
steps cut in the side of the cliff, and openings from within enabled
the garrison with pikes to precipitate below any who were daring enough
to venture up the steps uninvited.

The ladder gives admission through a broken door cut in the rock into a
long vaulted hall, that was formerly floored across so as to convert it
into two storeys. [Footnote: Actually the doorway and three lower
openings look into the dark granary. In the illustration I have shown
them as letting light in, as intended originally.] The lower storey or
basement opens on the left-hand side into a second cave, and the upper
by a passage cut in the rock communicated with another range of
chambers looking out of the face of the crag by artificial windows.
Immediately in front of one entering the hall is the portal of
admission to another very large hall that had originally well-shaped
windows, and a door leading on to the wooden balcony, but this has all
been broken away forming the ragged opening seen from below.

In 1534 Calvin was staying in the adjoining parish of S. Saturnin with
a canon of the cathedral of Angouleme, who had a good library, and was
disposed to favour him. The house is pointed out, but it has been
rebuilt or altered. A cavern there is also shown to which Calvin
retired to meditate on his Reform. It is now a cellar full of casks,
wheelbarrows, and rubbish. It was never a very pleasing resort, and he
preferred to come to La Roche Corail where, in the cavern just
described, he had more space, and less likelihood of being disturbed.
And here it was that he wrote his "Institute of the Christian
Religion." One is disposed to rest here for awhile and muse, and
consider what a manufactory of explosives this cavern was. From this
vaulted chamber was launched that doctrine which was to wreck nearly
every church in France and drench the soil in blood. I do not in the
least suppose that Calvin saw any beauty in the view through the gap in
the rock--not in the island below with its poplars and willows whose
branches trail in the bottle-green waters of the Charente--not in the
lush meadows with the yellow flags fluttering by the waterside--not in
the grey towers of Nersac castle and church rising above dark woods,
flushed orange in the setting sun against a purple sky. I do not
suppose that he noticed the scent of the wallflowers growing out of
every fissure wafted in on the summer air. There was logic thought in
his head, but no poetry in his heart, no sweetness in his soul. He
looked across in the direction of Angouleme, and wished he had a ladder
and a hammer that he might smash the serene face of the Saviour looking
down on the city from the western gable of the cathedral. Five and
twenty years must elapse before that wondrous domed pile was to be
wrecked by the Huguenots, his disciples. But here it was, in this
cavern, that he elaborated his system of reform, treating Christianity
as a French peasant treats an oak tree, pollarding it, and lopping off
every lateral, natural outgrowth. Assuredly, many a volatile
superstition had lodged in its branches, and many a gross abuse couched
under its shadow. But these might have been scared away without
mutilating the tree till it was reduced to a stump. He desired,
doubtless, to bring back the Church to the condition in which he
supposed it had been when born. But one cannot reduce an adult to the
simplicity and innocence of childhood by stripping off all his clothes,
and denying him the conventional figleaf.

[Illustration: LES ROCHES. Houses built into and against the rocks.]

[Illustration: GUE DU LOIR. Remains of a cliff-fortress commanding the
approach to Vendome. But a small portion of this castle is visible in
this plate.]

Having shattered the Catholic faith by the crowbar of his logic, he
sought to build up a grotto out of its fragments, and call it a church.
His "Institute of the Christian Religion" was published the following
year. It produced the desired effect at once. There were many reasons
why it should. Earnest and devout souls were troubled at the sight of a
Christianity that was so in name but had little Christianity in its
practice. They felt that the Church had drifted far out of its way and
had grounded on quicksands, and they thought that the sole way of
saving the hulk was to cast all its precious lading into the sea.
Christ's Church had been founded on a rock, it had withstood the rain
and the flood, but was crumbling down with dry rot. Calvin would have
neither the rock nor the sand. Into the mud he drove the piles by the
strokes of his genius, on which to erect the platform that was to
uphold the conventicle of his followers, and if that did not stand, it
would at least mark its site by their dejections. And dejections there
are everywhere, where the Calvinists were, wrecked churches, mutilated
monuments, broken glass, and shattered sculpture. Ruskin, remarking on
some delicate carving at Lyons, under a pedestal, observes that the
mediaeval sculptors exhibited absolute confidence in the public, in
placing their tenderest work within reach of a schoolboy's hand. Such,
however, was the love of the beautiful generally diffused, that objects
of art were safe from destruction or defacement. But with the outburst
of Calvinism all those affected were inflamed with a positive hatred of
the beautiful in art. If this had been confined to the destruction of
images to which idolatrous worship was offered, it would be explicable
and justifiable, but it extended to the most innocuous objects.
Delicate tracery such as adorns the west front of the church of
Vendome, a lace-work of beautiful sculpture representing trailing roses
and vines, birds and reptiles, was ruthlessly hacked. Churches,
cathedrals, were blown up with gunpowder--such was the fate of the
cathedrals of Montauban, Perigueux, and Orleans. Beza himself rolled
the barrels of gunpowder to explode under the great piers that
sustained the central tower of Orleans. [Footnote: In 1769 Montgomery
was preparing to blow up the beautiful Cathedral of Condon, only
consecrated thirty-eight years before, but accepted as its ransom from
the inhabitants the sum of 30,000 livres.]

The cry for reform was loud, and rang from every quarter of Europe
except from the Vatican, where the Pope, like Dame Partington with her
mop, thought to stay its progress. The grandsons of the old
_routiers_ cried fie on this quiet life, and snuffed the air for
rapine. The nobility were out of pocket and out at elbows, and looked
with avaricious eyes on the fair and broad lands of the Church, and
their fingers itched to be groping in her treasury, and they hoped to
patch their jerkins with her costly vestments. Court favourites were
abbots _in commendam_, held prebendaries, without being in holy
orders, sixfold pluralists abounded, ecclesiastical hippopotami, that
might fairly be hunted. All kinds of interests were enlisted against
the Church, good and bad, sincere and hypocritical, only a spokesman
was needed, a trumpet sound to call to the battle, and Calvin proved
the spokesman, and his "Institute" was the trumpet note.

An outpost station that is curious and puzzling is La Rochebrune on the
Dronne, below Brantome. The road to Bourdeilles and Perigueux runs
immediately below a chain of very fine chalk cliffs, and there is but
just space for it between the steep slope below them and the river. At
one point about a mile and a half below Brantome, the cliff is broken
through, where a lateral valley opens on that of the Dronne: here there
is a _talus_ overgrown with box and juniper leading up to a rock,
of inconsiderable height, with some holes in it, overhanging, and
capped with brushwood that at one time also covered the slope below the

By the roadside, immediately under this rock, is the opening into a
cave that admits into another much larger, and lighted from above, and
in which at the extremity is a passage leading upwards, now choked with
earth and stone.

The original entrance to the cave has been destroyed through the
widening of the highroad, so that it is now impossible to tell whether
it was effectually concealed or whether precautions had been taken for
its defence.

At one spot only in the rocks above is there a gap, and through that
gap, probably once walled up, access is obtained into a sort of
circular courtyard, where there are traces of a fireplace, and where is
a stone bench. From this court a spiral staircase, rock-hewn, leads to
the platform on top of the rocks. In the wall on the right of the court
is a doorway neatly cut in the chalk, square-headed and adapted for a
framed door that could be strongly barricaded. Immediately within is a
quadrangular pit sunk in the floor, now choked with stones. This, in
such a position, could not be a silo, it probably was the opening
through which those who entered the cave from below, by the road, made
their way into the interior of the fortress. Stepping over this pit one
enters a hall with six large round holes cut in the roof communicating
with an upper chamber, and receiving a borrowed light through them. A
spiral staircase at the side furnished with _meurtrieres_ through
which the besieged could stab at their enemies, leads to the upper hall
or chamber, which is lighted by two rude windows, one high up, the
other low down, and with a bench recess opposite them. But the strange
and perplexing feature of this room is that it has in the floor eight
round holes, each large enough to let a man fall through. Six
communicate with the chamber below, but the other two open under the
overhanging cornice, outside the castle. One of the holes--opening into
the nether chamber, is precisely where would rest the feet of men
seated on the bench. There is no trace of a groove to receive covers to
these holes.

It has been conjectured that this strange construction was a granary,
in which the peasants concealed their corn; but there are difficulties
in accepting this theory. The Rochebrune commands the road, and a
hiding place would assuredly be located in the depths of a wood, away
from a highroad, in some secluded valley. It has been conjectured that
the holes served for discharging the corn into the lower chamber. But
why carry it by a narrow winding stair aloft to pour it down into a
nether cave, when the latter, the supposed granary, itself was at once
accessible through the doorway? Moreover, two of the holes open
outwards, and not into the supposed store-chamber. It may be said that
these were for hauling up the sacks of corn, but the incline on which
they open is so steep, that it would be a prodigious waste of labour to
drag the corn up under the cornice in which they are, whereas the other
ascent is easy. The precautions taken to provide means of stabbing at
an assailant point to this having been a fortress. My interpretation of
the puzzle is this: first, that the left hand stair leading to the
summit of the crag enabled one of the defenders to light a beacon, so
as to warn the people of Brantome when danger threatened; that next,
the garrison, which could not have comprised more than five or six men,
as Rochebrune is very small, retired within the rock. If this courtyard
were invaded, they escaped into the lower chamber and barred the door,
and were able to thrust at assailants through the slots. But if the
door yielded they would scramble up the rock stair into the upper
apartment, and as the enemy broke into the lower cavern, they stabbed
and thrust at them through the six holes in the floor. Should their
position be rendered untenable, they could slip through the two holes
that opened outwards, into the brushwood and so effect their escape;
for these holes would not be perceived, or their purpose understood by
besiegers unfamiliar with the castle.

Usually, over the floor, riddled like a colander, planks were laid,
that on emergency could be turned up on their sides. I may add that the
windows opening outwards are purposely so inartificially made that no
one passing along the road underneath would suspect that there was a
fortress above his head. He would certainly suppose that these holes
were natural, such as are commonly found in the chalk cliffs. In fact
the first time I visited Brantome, and walked down the river to
Bourdeilles, I passed this rock and entertained no suspicion that it
contained anything remarkable, that it was as a matter of fact, a mere
shell, with all the artificial work within.

Why was it that every city--nay, every little town--had to be not only
walled about but to have its outposts? Because France was not a nation,
only a congeries of individualities. As Michelet says of the fourteenth
century: "The kingdom was powerless, dying, losing self-consciousness,
prostrate as a corpse. Gangrene had set in, maggots swarmed, I mean the
brigands, English and Navarese. All this rottenness isolated, detached
the members of the poor body from one another. One talks of the
Kingdom, but there were no States General, nothing at all general, no
intercommunication, the roads were in the power of cut-throats. The
fields were all battlefields, war was everywhere, and none could
distinguish friend from foe."

How needful these outposts were may be judged from what Froissart says:
"Rogues took advantage of such times (of truce), and robbed both towns
and castles; so that some of them, becoming rich, constituted
themselves captains of bands of thieves; there were among them those
worth forty thousand crowns. Their method was to mark out particular
towns or castles, a day or two's journey from each other; then they
collected twenty or thirty robbers, and travelling through by-roads in
the night-time, about daybreak entered the town or castle they had
fixed upon, and set one of the houses on fire. When the inhabitants
perceived it they thought it had been a body of soldiers sent to
destroy them, and took to their heels as fast as they could" (Bk. i.,
c. 147).

Passing on from the outposts to towns, or defences to highways, we must
glance at such as guard the approaches to countries, or such as
Gibraltar that commands the great waterway between the Mediterranean
and the Atlantic. Gibraltar is certainly the most complete and
marvellous of all cliff castles. This is too well known to English
travellers to need description here.

The French Gibraltar, Urdos, commands one of the passes through the
Pyrenees. It is hewn out of the mountain in a buttress of rock, and
rises in stages from the road to the height of 500 feet. Externally the
mountain looks harmless enough. A cave opens here, and a rift there,
and a few streaks of masonry may be noticed, but actually the mountain
is riddled with galleries, batteries, and long flights of stairs, and
hollowed out for ammunition and other stores; and it is capable of
containing a garrison of three thousand men.

Faron also, 1660 feet high, with its magnificent precipices of salmon-
coloured limestone, commanding both the harbour of Toulon and the Bay
of Hyeres, is capped with fortifications and pierced with batteries,
casemates, and chambers for military stores, a position made by Nature
and utilised with supreme skill. Nor must the chain of rock-forts of
Campi delle Alte and of Mont Agel above Monaco, dominating the Corniche
road be forgotten, ready to drop bombs amidst an army from Italy
venturing along that splendid road, nor must Besancon be forgotten,
occupying its inaccessible rock--inaccessible that is, to an enemy.

"Oppidum maximum Sequanorum," as Caesar described it in his day;
"natura loci sic muniebatur ut magnam ad ducendum bellum daret

Ehrenbreitstein faces the opening of the Moselle into the Rhine; and
Frankenfeste holds the key of the Brennerpass; and Dover Castle
commands the strait at its narrowest. Koenigstein crowning a precipitous
rock 748 feet above the Elbe, though in Saxony is garrisoned by
Prussians, guards the pass down the river from Bohemia; and
Peterwardein is a rock-built fortress, that has been called the
Ehrenbreitstein and Gibraltar of the Danube. What are these frontier
fortresses but the same on an extensive scale as the Gue du Loir, the
Roche Corail, and the Rochebrune? In the Middle Ages every city, every
little town had to have its outposts and watch-tower on the look-out
for the enemy, and to break the first impetus of an attack. But now it
is not the town but the nation that has to gird itself about with
frontier fortresses.



When the periods of persecution of the early Christians had come to an
end, and they were able in security to assemble for worship, two
distinct types of Church contested for the supremacy--the Basilican and
the Catacumbal.

Even during the times before Constantine, when persecution was in
abeyance, Christians had been accustomed to gather together for the
Divine mysteries in private houses. But after that Christianity was
recognised and favoured, the wealthy and noble citizens of Rome, Italy,
and Africa, who had become Christians, made over their stately
reception halls, or basilicas, to be converted into churches. These
basilicas, attached to most palaces, were halls comprising usually a
nave with side aisles separated from the nave by ranges of columns, and
an apse at the extremity of the nave in which the master of the house
was wont to sit to receive his clients and his guests. This is the type
upon which cathedral and parish churches in east and west are modelled.
But the early Christians had become accustomed in times of danger to
resort to the subterranean chapels in the Catacombs. The poorer members
doubtless preferred these dingy meeting-places to the lordly halls of
the nobles, and the slaves could not feel their equality with their
masters under the same roof where they had served, and been whipped, as
in the Catacombs, where all were one in fear of their lives and in the
darkness that, buried distinction. Moreover, the cult of the martyrs
had grown to a passion, and it had become customary to commemorate
their nativities as it was called, _i.e._ the anniversaries of
their deaths, at their tombs in the Catacombs. It was there that the
faithful habitually prayed, it was near the bones of the Saints that it
was believed special sanctity dwelt, and that prayers were most
effectually answered through their intercession; and it was there,
_ad martyres_, that they themselves purposed to be laid in
expectation of the Resurrection.

In Rome, the tombs of the martyrs continued to enjoy popular favour,
and to attract crowds, till the incursion of the Lombards, when, to
save the relics of the Saints from profanation, they were transferred
to the basilicas within the walls, whereupon the Catacombs ceased to
interest the faithful, that were neglected and allowed to fall into
oblivion. Gaul rejoiced in having had its soil watered with the blood
of many witnesses to the Faith, consequently it had numerous hypogee
chapels, and when, to the Martyrs were added hermits, abbots, bishops,
devout women, and confessors of all descriptions, their underground
tombs became extraordinarily numerous, and were resorted to with great
devotion. Such was the origin of the crypts found in profusion in
France, not under cathedrals only, but under parish and monastic
churches as well. The whole population having become Christian, the
resort to these subterranean chapels became so great as to cause
inconvenience, and the bishops proceeded to "elevate" "illate" and
"translate" the bones of the saints from their original resting-places
to the basilicas above ground. Thereupon the crypts lost most of their
attraction, and the worshippers gathered about the altars in the upper
churches to which the bones had been transferred.

In Britain, where there were no early martyrs save Alban at Verulam,
and Julius and Aaron at Caerleon, the type of church from the beginning
was basilican, as we may see by that unearthed at Silchester, and that
of S. Martin at Canterbury.

It was the same in Germany and throughout Northern Europe.

John and Paul were chamberlains to the Princess Constantia. They had in
some way incurred the anger of the Emperor Julian, and he sent orders
for their despatch in their own house on the Coelian hill. They were
accordingly executed in their bath, and were buried in the cellar under
their mansion. At once a rush of the devout of Rome took place to the
Coelian to invoke the aid of these new martyrs. The visitors picked off
the plaster, scribbled their names on the walls, applied kerchiefs to
the tomb, and collected the dust, stained with the blood of the
chamberlains. Pope Hadrian IV., 1158, built a basilica on top of the
house, driving the foundations through it, and transferred to this
upper church the bones of SS. John and Paul. At once the stream of
devotion was deflected from the substructure to the superstructure, and
the former was filled up with earth and totally abandoned.

Herbert Spencer has established in his "Principles of Sociology" that
the mausoleum was the egg out of which the temple was evolved. The
first cave-dwellers buried their dead in the grottoes in which they had
lived, and themselves moved into others. They periodically revisited
the sepulchres to bring offerings to the dead. In time the deceased
ancestor became invested by the imagination of his descendants with
supernatural powers, and ascended from stage to stage till he was
exalted into a deity. Thenceforth his cave became a temple. Ferguson,
writing of the Chaldaean temples, and indicating their resemblance to
tombs says, "The most celebrated example of this form is as often
called (by ancient writers) the tomb or the temple of Belus, and among
a Turanian people the tomb and the temple may be considered as one and
the same thing." [Footnote: Clement of Alexandria (Exhort. to the
Heathen) had already said, "Temples were originally Tombs." _Cf_.
also Eusebius (Praep. Evangelica ii. 6) heads the chapter, "The Temples
of the Gods that are none other than Tombs."]

In the primitive Church there were, as we have seen, churches which had
no connection whatever with sepulchres, and chapels underground that
contained tombs. The current of popular feeling set so strongly towards
the latter that the Popes yielded to it, as did also the Bishops, and
converted every basilica into a mausoleum by the transfer to it of the
bones of a saint.

But that was not all. The Holy Mysteries had been celebrated in private
houses and basilicas on wooden tables, sometimes square, but often
round, and with three legs. An illustration is in the cemetery of S.
Calixtus, of the latter half of the second century, where a priest is
represented celebrating at what looks like a modern tea-table.
According to William of Malmesbury, S. Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester
(1062-1095), destroyed the wooden altars in his diocese, which had been
universal in England, _altarea lignea jam inde a priscis diebus in
Anglia_. But with the transformation of the basilica into a
mausoleum, the altar was also transformed into a sepulchre. If it did
not contain the entire body of a saint, it had a hole cut in it to
receive a box containing relics; and the Roman pontifical and liturgy
were altered in accordance with this. The Bishop on consecrating an
altar was to exact that it should contain relics, and the priest on
approaching it was required to invoke the saints whose bones were
stored in it. [Footnote: Pontifex accepta mitra, intigit policem dextrae
manus in sanctum Chrisma et cum eo signat confessionem, id est
sepulchrum altaris, in quo reliquiae deponendae. _Pont. Roman._ The
priest on ascending to the altar kisses it, and refers to the relics
contained in it. "Oramus te, Domine, per merita sanctorum tuorum quorum
reliquiae hic sunt--ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea."] The
cavity in the slab to contain the relics was liturgically entitled
_sepulchrum_. The change from a table to a tomb involved a change
of material from wood to stone.

The dedication of a church to a saint in the Latin Church implies the
presence in the sepulchre of the altar of the relics of that saint.
From the Roman point of view, a dedication without the relic is
unmeaning. Among the Celts this was unknown, with them a church took
its name after its founder, and the founder of a church dedicated it by
a partial fast of forty days, and prayer and vigil on the spot. The
early basilicas of Rome also took their titles from the families that
surrendered their halls for Christian worship. The introduction of
dedication to deceased saints marks unmistakably the transformation of
a church from a basilica to a mausoleum.

It is certainly remarkable that whereas in Paganism the identification
of the tomb with the temple passed away, and the temple acquired
independence of such association, in the Latin Church the reverse took
place; there the church unassociated with a tomb--a basilica in fact--
was converted into a sepulchral monument.

The reverence of the early pontiffs shrank from dismembering the bodies
of the saints. To Queen Theodelinda Pope Gregory I. would accord only
oil that had burnt in the lamps at their tombs, or ribbons that had
touched them. Gregory V., in 594, wrote to Constantia Augusta, who had
built a church in honour of S. Paul, and craved a portion of his body:
"Dear lady, know that the Romans when they give relics of the saints
are not accustomed to parcel up their bodies, they send no more than a
veil that has touched them." [Footnote: Baronius, _Hierothonie de J.
C._, Paris, 1630, p. 173.]

But when the Latin Church was constrained by the force of popular
prejudice to transform all her sacred temples into sepulchral churches,
there was no help for it; the bodies of the saints had to be torn in
pieces for distribution. A toe, a finger was taken off, legs and arms
were amputated, the vertebrae of the spine were dispersed over
Christendom, the teeth were wrenched out of the jaws, the hair plucked
from head and chin, moisture exuding from the body was carefully
cherished, and bones were rasped to furnish a little sacred phosphate
of lime to some church clamorous to be consecrated.

A plateau to the south of Poitiers had long borne the name of Chiron
Martyrs. Chiron means a heap of stones, but why the epithet of Martyrs
attached to the heaps of stones there nobody knew. The old Roman road
leading to and athwart it was named La Route des Martyrs, also for no
known reason. But in October 1878 the plateau was being levelled by the
military authorities, when it was discovered that the stones were
actually broken tombs, and that they were clearing a pagan Necropolis.
Soon they came on a portion where were sarcophagi orientated and
crowded thickly about a subterranean building. The distinguished
antiquary, Le Pere de la Croix, now undertook the investigation, and
discovered that these latter were the tombs of Christians, and that
they surrounded a hypogee Martyrium. This was excavated and proved to
be a chapel erected over the bodies of certain martyrs of Poitiers, of
whom no records had been preserved, or at all events remained, whose
very existence was unknown; also, that it had been constructed by an
abbot Mellebaudes at the end of the sixth or beginning of the seventh
century. It contained an altar built up of stone, plastered over and
painted, measuring at the base 2 feet 8-1/2 inches by 2 feet 2 inches
and 3 feet 7 inches high. Also sarcophagi for the bodies of the martyrs
there found, also one that Mellebaudes had prepared for himself. In the
floor were many graves, possibly of his kinsfolk. Numerous inscriptions
in barbarous Latin, some paintings and carvings, were also found. Among
the latter a rude sculpture represented two of the martyrs, Hilarius
and Sosthenes, who had been crucified. A bracelet of amber and coloured
glass beads, amber ear-rings, and bronze ornaments were also

[Illustration: Plan of the Martyrium.

1-4. Stone sarcophagi.
5, 6, 9, 10, 14. Graves sunk in the rock, covered with flat slabs,
containing bones.
8. Pit covered with a carved slab.
11, 13. Children's graves covered with carved slabs brought from
12. Pit containing no bones.

A. Altar.
B. Arcosolium containing the sarcophagus with the bones of the
C. The sculpture of the crucified saints.
D. Doorway.
F.F. Pilasters.
O.O. Broken pilasters.
G.G. Benches.
H. Sarcophagus of Mellebaudes.
E. East window.]

Mellebaudes certainly built his mausoleum where there had been one
earlier, that had become completely ruinous, for he complains that he
had not been able to recover all the bones of the martyrs that had been
laid in it. This destruction had probably been effected by the
Visigoths, and the building by Mellebaudes took place some time after
the defeat and expulsion of these Arians in 507. The final ruin of the
Martyrium he raised may have been the work of the Saracens in 732.
[Footnote: For full account with plates see P. Camille de la Croix,
_S. J. Hypogee Martyrium de Poitiers, Paris, 1883._]

The hypogee was sunk nine feet in the rock, but the roof must have
shown above ground. A window was to the east. S. Avitus in the sixth
century speaks of the wondrous skill of architects in his day, who
contrived to introduce daylight into the crypts. It is evident that no
glass was inserted in the window, although the use of glass for windows
was becoming general in the sixth century; and Fortunatus, Bishop of
Poitiers, died 609, and Gregory, Bishop of Tours, died 595, both speak
in terms of admiration of the glazing of windows for churches. It may
well be understood that in the mind of the people long after the stream
of public devotion had been directed to the churches above ground, a
liking for those that are excavated underground should remain. Indeed,
it is not extinct yet, as any one may see who visits the church of Ste.
Croix at Poitiers, or S. Eutrope at Saintes, or S. Martin at Tours, to
mention but three out of many. In all these are mere empty tombs, yet
they are the resort of numerous devotees. The darkness, the mystery of
these subterranean sanctuaries, impressed the imagination. Accordingly
we find, especially in France, many cave-churches. Indeed they are so
numerous that I can afford space to describe but a couple of the
largest. Many are small, mere chapels, and shall be dealt with under
the heading of hermitages.

DORDOGNE. Height from the floor, sixty feet. It is no longer used for
divine worship.]

Few scenes of quiet landscape can surpass that of the valley of the
Dordogne from the road between Sauveterre and Libourne. It broke on me
upon a breezy spring morning. The Dordogne, broad and blue, swept
through the wide valley between banks dense with poplar and osier. The
whole country wore a smiling aspect; the houses, built of freestone,
looked fresh and comfortable, and were surrounded by their gardens. The
maize-fields were as a rippling green sea. The flax-fields in bloom
were sheets of the tenderest blue, and those of the _Trifolium
incarnatum_ red as blood, and the road was like a white ribbon
binding together a variegated wreath. To the north of the Dordogne rose
a grey cluster of buildings, the old town of S. Emilion, famous for its
wine. It occupies the edge of a plateau. The only business pursued
therein is the making of wine and of macaroons.

The entrance to S. Emilion is not striking. None of its buildings,
except the keep of its castle are visible. The road dives into a grove
of acacias, and then enters the town by a narrow street. The acacias
were a mass of pink and white blossom, exhaling a sweet fragrance.

In the middle of the eighth century lived a hermit named Emilian, born
of obscure parents at Vannes in Brittany. He became known to the Count
of that place, who took him into his service, where he showed himself
profusely charitable to the poor with his master's substance. This led
to his ignominious dismissal, and he wandered into the Saintonge,
entered the Benedictine Order, and became baker to the monastery. But
he proved so objectionable there that he was turned out. So he wandered
further south, and finding a rock in the forest above the Dordogne,
wherein was a small cave, out of which flowed a spring, he took up his
abode therein. His fame soon brought disciples to him, and gathered
admirers about him; and after his death in 767, a monastery of
Benedictine monks was settled there, and a town sprang up about it.

The cave of S. Emilion still remains. In face of it rises a mass of
rock with abrupt scarp towards the west and the market-place. Thence a
street slopes up to the platform on the top of the rock. The front of
the rock has an ambulatory before it pierced with windows and doors,
and through these latter access is obtained to the interior of the
rock, which is hollowed out into a stately church, dedicated to the
three kings, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.

This monolithic church has for its base a parallelogram measuring 120
feet by 60 feet. It is composed of two portions of unequal height. The
anterior portion is a vestibule, narthex, or ambulatory to the church,
and is only 21 feet high. The windows in this are of the flamboyant
order, and the principal doorway is richly sculptured. The body of the
church into which this vestibule opens is 95 feet long and 60 feet
high. The body consists of a nave and side aisles, all excavated out of
the living rock. Six windows light the interior, the three in the
flamboyant style already mentioned, and above, set back the whole
length of the narthex under circular-headed arches, are three plain,
round-headed windows, like a clerestory, opening into the nave and
aisles, one window in each.

Looking from the market-place at the church the spectators would
suppose that the nave ran parallel with the vestibule, but this is not
the case, it is at right angles to it.

Showing the gallery of communication to the Seigneural pew, seen in
face. The supports of the gallery vault have crumbled away within forty
years, through neglect.]

The small upper windows cast but a chill and feeble light into the vast
cavern, so that the choir and chapels are buried in perpetual twilight.
The windows in the vestibule do very little towards the illumination of
the interior. At the extremity of the nave, which is raised on steps to
form a choir, anciently stood the high altar, but this has been
removed. Above, where it was can be discerned faintly through the
obscurity, a bas-relief rudely sculptured, but very curious. It
occupies the entire width of the choir; on the right is an angel
playing upon a stringed instrument, with outspread wings, as if in the
attitude of soaring, and on the left, perched on a rock, is a monstrous
animal with gaping jaws, bristling mane, and raised paws. In the midst
of the group is a little old man armed with a stick, apparently
repelling this monster. It has been conjectured that this is intended
as a representation of the saint himself ready to deliver his votaries
from the jaws of Hell. But it is more probable that the whole subject
is allegorical of Death, armed with his scythe between the powers of
Light and of Darkness. The choir arch is one of the boldest and most
original conceptions in this marvellous temple. It consists of two
gigantic angels carved out of the sandstone, with their feet upon the
piers on each side, and their heads nearly meeting at the crown of the
vault. Each has four wings, the two smaller wings are raised about
their heads, forming a nimbus to each. The other two wings are
depressed. These mighty angels were formerly whitened and partially
gilt, and the effect of the great figures looming out of the dark vault
is most impressive.

On the right side of the nave, at the spring of the arches, between two
of the piers, is a centaur armed with a bow, cut in the stone, and on
the opposite spandril are two goats, disposed back to back, also cut in
the rock. On one of the piers is an inscription graven regarding the
dedication of the church, but unfortunately the date is illegible. The
exterior of the church is adorned with a noble portal, richly
sculptured, of much later date than the church within.

On entering the church through this rich portal a feeling of
astonishment comes over one. The exterior in no way corresponds with
the interior, which is void of ornament. The piers are massive
parallelograms without mouldings, the arches between them semicircular,
stilted, perfectly plain; a string alone marks the rise of the arch
from the pier.

In the floor of one of the aisles is a hole through which a descent was
anciently made into the crypt below the church; this crypt also is hewn
in the solid rock, and has a funnel-shaped dome, a spiral flight of
steps was cut in the rock round it descending from the church into the
crypt. The descent must have been hazardous in the extreme unless the
stairs were provided with a balustrade, of which at present no trace

Admittance into the crypt is also obtained through a door cut in the
face of the rock, but this was made in 1793 when the soil and the bones
of the old canons of the Church of the Three Kings were required for
saltpetre to make gunpowder for the armies of the Republic. Over the
door is a mask carved in the stone and a little window; above the
monolithic church, standing on the platform of rock, is the exquisite
flamboyant spire, not communicating with the church beneath, also a
modern _salle de danse_.

Another subterranean church as interesting but not as well preserved is
that of Aubeterre in Charente, on the Dronne. By the valley of the
Dronne all movement of troops from the Limousin and Perigord into the
Saintonge took place, and the rock of Aubeterre was considered of so
great military importance that a strong castle was constructed on the
summit, and its possession was contested repeatedly during the Hundred
Years' War and the wars of religion. Its position was peculiar in this
also, that it was in the seneschaute of the Angoumois, in the diocese
of Perigueux, and for the purpose of taxation in the Limousin.

[ILLUSTRATION: ROCAMADOUR. A cluster of chapels, some excavated in
the rock. Zacchaeus is erroneously supposed to have lived and died in
one of them. A famous place of pilgrimage.]

The town is built in the form of an amphitheatre on a chalk hill that
commands the Dronne. The hill is precipitous in parts, and is
everywhere so steep that the roofs of the houses are below the gardens
of those above them, and the saying there is, "Mind that your cattle be
not found in your neighbour's stable by tumbling through the roof." The
castle occupied a height cut off from the town by a deep cleft, that
has its sides pierced with caverns, and its store chambers and cellars
are dug out of the rock. But the most curious feature of Aubeterre is
the monolithic church of S. John beneath the castle. The doorway
admitting into it is on the level of the street, and gives access to a
charnel-house with what would be termed _arcosolia_ in the
catacombs, on each side, and the floor is humpy with graves. This is 70
feet long by 16 feet wide. On the right hand it gives admission through
a doorway cut in the rock to the church itself, consisting of a nave
and side aisle divided from it by massive monolithic piers, very much
decayed at the top. It is lighted by three round-headed windows like a
clerestory without glass. At the further end is an arch admitting to an
apse, in the midst of which is an octagonal monolithic tomb of
Renaissance style, with columns at the angles, and surmounted by the
statue of Francois d'Esparbes de Lussac, Marshal of Aubeterre, and the
much mutilated figure of his wife in Carrara marble.

A gallery excavated in the rock above the arch into the apse is
continued the whole length of the aisle, and turns to admit into the
seigneural gallery or pew high up over the entrance whence he and his
family could hear Divine Service.

On the right-hand side of the nave opens a second charnel-house, called
by the people "the Old Church," also with its _arcosolia_; there
is also a door by which exit is obtained into a small cemetery
overgrown with briars and thorns, and with the head-crosses reeling in
all directions, and utterly neglected. For centuries not this yard
only, nor the two charnel-houses but also the floor of the church, have
served as the burial-place of the citizens of Aubeterre, and the floor
is raised four feet above that of the apse though frequent interments.
The last head cross I noted within the church bore the date 1860.

The height of the church is said to be fifty feet. The castle above was
sold about sixty years ago to a small tradesman of the town, who
straightway pulled it down and disposed of the stones for building
purposes, and out of the lead of the gutters, conduits, and windows
made sufficient to pay the purchase-money.

Then he converted the site into a cabbage garden and vineyard. Not
content with this he brought a stream of water in to nourish his
cabbages. This leaks through and is rapidly disintegrating and ruining
the church beneath, that was protected so long as the castle stood
above it. Seven years ago the arched gallery in the aisle was perfect,
now it has crumbled away. The piers were also intact, now they are
corroded at the top. A stream pours down through the vault continuously
by the monument of the Marshal. The church is classed as a _monument
historique_, nevertheless nothing was done to prevent the damage
effected by the destruction of the covering castle, and nothing is done
now to preserve it from utter disintegration.

In my opinion the apse was excavated to receive the monument, which
consists of a mass of chalk in position, with a hole on one side to
receive the coffins let down into the seigneural vault; and this could
not have been there with a high altar behind it. In a lateral chapel is
a hole in the vault, through which the ropes passed to pull the bells
that were hung in a tower above, but which has been destroyed.

[ILLUSTRATION: AUBETERRE, CHARENTE. Mausoleum of Francois Espartes in
the choir of the Subterranean Church.]

In 1450 Aubeterre was in the possession of the English, and they sold
it to the Count of Perigord. When the Huguenot troubles began, the Lord
of Aubeterre threw himself into the movement and appropriated the lands
and revenues of the ecclesiastical foundations in the town. Francois
d'Aubeterre was involved in the conspiracy of Amboise, and was
sentenced to death, but pardoned. He deemed it expedient, however, to
go to Geneva, where, as Brantome informs us, he turned button-maker. In
1561 he was back again in Aubeterre, and converted the monolithic
church into a preaching "temple," sweeping away all Catholic symbols,
and it remains bare of them to this day. His brother, Guy Bonchard,
Bishop of Perigueux, was also an ardent Calvinist, and used his
position for introducing preachers of the sect into the churches.
Although disbelieving in Episcopacy, he did not see his way to
surrendering the emoluments of his see. He was deposed in 1561, and
Peter Fournier elected, whom the Huguenots murdered in his bed 14th
July 1575.

In 1568 Jeanne d'Albret issued orders to the gangs of men she sent
through the country to lay hold of the royal revenues, to sequestrate
and appropriate all ecclesiastical property, to raise taxes to pay
themselves, and to require all municipalities to furnish from four to
five soldiers apiece to replenish their corps.

Jeanne's power extended over Lower Navarre, Bearn, the land of Albret,
Foix, Armagnac, and other great seigneuries. Through her husband,
Antoine de Bourbon, she could rule and torture Perigord, the
Bourbonais, and the Vendomois. She had good cause to be offended with
the Pope, for in 1563, with incredible folly, he threatened her with
deposition from her throne, a threat he could not possibly execute. By
enrolling and sending forth over the south to ravage and confiscate,
she was a second Pandora letting loose the hurricane, slaughter, fire,
famine, and pestilence, leaving Hope locked up behind.

Aubeterre played a conspicuous part in the wars of religion, and the
Catholics in vain essayed to take it. The seigneur could always draw
from the bands of Calvinist soldiery to hold it, and it remained in
their power till the peace of La Rochelle.

I might include Rocamadour in the Department of Lot among the
interesting rock churches. It consists of a cluster of chapels clinging
to the rock or dug out of it, and looking like a range of swallows'
nests plastered against the face of the cliff. The people of the place
fondly hold that Zaccheus, who climbed up a sycamore tree to see Our
Lord pass by, came into Quercy, and having a natural propensity for
climbing, scrambled up the face of the precipice to a hole he perceived
in it, and there spent the remainder of his days, and changed his name
to Amator. No trace of such an identification occurs before 1427, when
Pope Martin V. affirmed it in a bull, although in the local breviary
there was no such identification. It is extremely doubtful whether any
saint of the name of Amator settled here, the story concerning him is
an appropriation from Lucca. [Footnote: _Analecta Bollandiana_, T.
xxviii., pp. 57 _et seq_.]

But I will not describe this, one of the most remarkable sites in
Europe, as I have done so already in my "Deserts of Southern France,"
and as of late years it has been visited by a good many English
tourists, and the French railway stations exhibit highly coloured views
of it, turning Rocamadour into a national show place.

At Lirac, in Gard, is La Sainte Baume, a small church or chapel,
excavated out of the rock, 60 feet long, 45 feet wide, and 30 feet
high. It is lighted by an aperture in the vault. Three other caves
behind the choir are almost as large.

At Mimet, in Bouches-du-Rhone, is the church of Our Lady of the Angels,
hewn out of limestone rock, with stalactites depending from the roof.

At Peyre, near Millau, in Tarn, is the church of S. Christophe, scooped
out of the living rock, with above it an old crenellated bell tower.

[Illustration: SUBTERRANEAN CHURCH, AUBETERRE. Looking east. In the
choir is the mausoleum. The floor of the church is raised four feet by
it having been made the parish cemetery. The process of degradation of
the pillars is noticeable at their heads.]

At Caudon, on the Dordogne, now in the parish of Domme, the old parish
church is monolithic, entirely excavated in the rock, but with a
structural bell-cot above it. As already mentioned, Caudon was a
parish, but as owing to the devastations of the Companies, all the
inhabitants had deserted it and fled to Spain, it was annexed to Domme.
What is curious is that before it had been carved out of the limestone
as a church there had been cave-dwellers in or about it, that have left
their traces in the sides of the church. The Marquis de Maleville, who
has his chateau near, has put the church in thorough repair, and it is
still occasionally used.

Natural caves have been employed as churches or places of worship. Thus
the Grotte des Fees, near Nimes, was used by the Calvinists for their
religious assemblies before 1567, when they obtained the mastery of the
town, sacked the bishop's palace, and filled up the well with the
Catholics, whom they precipitated into it, some dead and others half

The Grotte de Jouclas, near Rocamadour, served the villagers of La Cave
till the parish church was rebuilt. At Gurat, in Charente, the church
of S. George is hollowed out of the rock; it dates from the tenth
century, it is believed, and preceded the present parish church, which
was erected in the eleventh century, and is Romanesque. In the valley
of the Borreze, near Souillac (Lot), is a cave in which bones of the
_ursus speloeus_ have been found. It is used as a chapel to Notre
Dame de Ste. Esperance.

At Lanmeur, in Brittany, is the very early crypt of S. Melor, a Breton
prince put to death about the year 544. The legend concerning him is
rich in mythical particulars. His uncle, so as to incapacitate him from
attaining the crown of Leon, cut off his right hand and left foot. The
boy was then provided with a silver hand and a brazen foot. One day he
was seen to use his silver hand in plucking filberts off a tree,
whereupon his uncle had him murdered. The crypt is the most ancient
monument of Christian architecture in Brittany. It measures 25 feet by
15 feet 6 inches, and is divided into a nave and side aisles by two
ranges of columns hardly 4 feet high, sustaining depressed arches not
rising above 3 feet 6 inches, and decorated with rudely sculptured
trailing branches.

[Illustration: Section of the Dolmen Chapel of the Seven Sleepers near

A still more curious subterranean chapel is near Plouaret, in Cotes-du-
Nord. It is, in fact, a prehistoric dolmen under a tumulus, on top of
which a chapel was erected in 1702-4. The descent into the crypt is by
a flight of steps. The primitive monument consisted of two huge
capstones of granite supported by four or five vertically planted
uprights, but one, if not two of the latter have been removed. At the
east end is an altar to the Seven Sleepers, and the comical dolls
representing them stand in a niche above the altar.

In the north-west of Spain, at Cangas-de-Ones, near Oviedo, is a little
church of probably the tenth or eleventh century, built on top of a
cairn that covers a dolmen. This latter consists of a circular chamber
into which leads a gallery composed of fifteen upright slabs, covered
by four others. The dolmen served as a crypt to the church, and from it
have been recovered objects in stone and copper of a prehistoric
period. A writer in the seventeenth century says that in his time
devotees regarded the dolmen as the tomb of a saint, and scrabbled up
the soil, and carried it away as a remedy against sundry maladies.
[Footnote: _Revue mensuelle de l'ecole d'Anthropologie_, Paris,

[Illustration: Plan of the Dolmen Chapel near Plouaret.]

The Bretons have a ballad, _Gwerz_, concerning the former
monument. It is a miraculous structure dating from the Creation of the
World: "Who will doubt that it was built by the hand of the Almighty?
You ask me when and how it was constructed. I reply that I believe that
when the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all were created, then was
this also made."

Although the dolmen is no longer underground, I must refer to that of
Confolens near S. Germain-sur-Vienne, because it was originally under a
tumulus. It is a dolmen, of which only the cover, a huge mass of
granite remains intact, in an island of the Vienne. Underneath the slab
are sculptured a stone axe with handle, and one without, also a cross.
The capstone rests on four pillars of the twelfth century. Mr. Ferguson
erroneously claimed the dolmen as evidence that rude stone monuments
continued to be erected till late in the Middle Ages. But, in fact, the
pillars are not of equal length, their capitals are not in line, nor
are their bases. What is obvious is that the rude stone supports were
removed one by one, and the Gothic pillars inserted in their place were
cut exactly to the length required. Thus altered, the dolmen served as
a baldachin or canopy over the stone Christian altar that is still in
place beneath it. About this monument a chapel had been erected with
apse to the east, measuring 36 feet by 15 feet. This has been
destroyed, but the foundations remained till recently. The cross on the
capstone was cut when the prehistoric monument was converted to use by
Christians. To descend to the floor of the chapel a flight of steps had
been constructed. The chapel was dedicated to S. Mary Magdalen.

In Egypt, in the Levant, cave-churches are common. The chapel of Agios
Niketos, in Crete, is now merely a smoke begrimed grotto beneath a huge
mass of rock on the mountain side. The roof is elaborately ornamented
with paintings representing incidents in the Gospel story, and the
legend of S. Nicolas. Though it is no longer employed as a church, an
event that is said to have happened some centuries ago invests it with
special regard by the natives. The church was crowded with worshippers
on the eve of the feast of the patron, when the fires which the


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