Friday, October 17, 2008

Two Popes at once


We were surprised to find in Avignon that there is a Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), where several popes and antipopes lived from the early 14th to early 15th centuries. And the term antipope really amused us. Looking it up in Wikipedia I find there have been a whole lot of them

An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who makes a widely accepted claim to be the lawful pope, in opposition to the pope recognised by the Roman Catholic Church. In the past antipopes were typically those supported by a fairly significant faction of cardinals and kingdoms.

There were two antipopes in Avignon from 1378 to 1423 but there were also undisputed popes there starting in 1309 when the newly elected pope fled to Avignon to escape the unrest in Rome and ending when the pope returned to Rome in 1377. He died shortly afterwards and his elected successor turned into a tyrant on becoming pope so the cardinals elected another pope = the antipope who went to Avignon. In 1423 the problem was resolved by a group of cardinals persuading the Roman pope to resign and excommunicating the Avignon pope and then electing a new pope.

A large palace was built for the pope over time and it remained under the pope’s control after the resolution of the two pope problem. It deteriorated over the next 350 years until it was sacked during the French Revolution in 1789. It then became a military barracks and prison. In 1906 it became a national museum and it has been restored slowly during the last 100 years.

That is the pope’s palace with the spire and tower on the skyline seen from Pont d’Avignon.

He seems to have needed a big house to live in.

Those were violent times so his Palace is fortified like a castle.

The biggest room in the palace is the dining room. We had the cordless phone commentary gadgets like the chap in the first photo is using for the guided tour of the bridge. They described one important meal here and I am delighted to have found the ingredients through Google

The Grand Tinel is where the pope's banquets were held, with the pope seated on a raised platform. Gold plates and ivory cutlery were used to devour mountains of food-detailed inventories record the consumption of 118 cows, 1,023 sheep, 60 pigs, 1,195 geese, 7,428 chickens...a total of 95,000 dishes; and all at one sitting.

Where on earth did they get 7 428 chickens in a couple of days sometime before 1428? How did they kill, pluck, prepare and cook them all in the days before refrigeration?

It was a huge building with a big courtyard in the middle so the picture above shows just one side of the whole. The telephone style commentary thing worked really well.


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