St Paul de Roche
On November 3rd there was a salon du livres in St Paul de Roches, the second such event held there and I was invited to join the occasion. St Paul is in the north east of the Dordogne, at the beginning of the Massif Central, about an hour’s drive from here. On a beautiful autumn day the drive was a delight, and after the road turned east from Brantôme the landscape changed. Now the limestone became granite and the ploughed fields darker, richer, and paradoxically less stony than the ones in front of my house where the limestone works to the surface. ‘Every stone has a thousand children.
’St. Paul is reached up a steep curving road and one last sharp turn brings you to a village perched high, commanding wooded valleys. It was a landscape that people would have known hundreds of years ago. This region of hills and chestnut forests is locally known as Pays de Feuillardiers.
Forty Two Authors
The village hall was crowded with authors and their books, a children’s corner had the most attention, which was good to see. Local history and biography sold well. The author next to me sang as he encouraged people to buy for he had a CD to sell as well. The committee bustled about, welcoming and happy to see so many people.
Isabella of Angoulême would have enjoyed the comments on the covers of my books. Her seal is always admired.
And as I chatted and observed I thought of the brother in law she never met, Richard 1st killed at Chalus. Chalus is about half an hour from St Paul and my neighbour sang a song about that place too. A plaint was written when Richard died.
The story is that in 1199, Richard rushed to Chalus because he had been told the Viscount of Limoges had treasure buried in the grounds. In the 11th century the fortified chateau had been built to control the Limoges- Périgueux road. This had always been a cross roads that brought traders from the far north with amber, and now the town grew and prospered. Richard, as Duke of Aquitaine had been trying to control the region for some time, local lords and counts defied him, and he was usually a fierce fighter. But he became rather complacent in Chalus and strolled about without his armour. A stray arrow pierced him and gangrene set in and he died in his mother’s arms. Eleanor had sped from Fontevraud near the Loire to be with her favourite son. And with his death, his younger brother Bad King John inherited the throne of England and he began to ride through Aquitaine too, seeking loyalty and homage. And in 1200 he met Isabella of Angoulême, kidnapped her and married her. And so my trilogy begins!
Please visit my shop to find out more about the ‘Isabella of Angoulême’ series.