The Castle of Valençay

September 24, 2015

Lordship, power, grandeur and splendor

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Photo of the Chateau Valencay taken by Valéry Beaud.

Photo of the Chateau Valencay taken by Valéry Beaud.

The first impression one has on observing this castle, located in the Loire Valley, France, is one of enchantment. How marvelous! An ensemble of towers that rise gallantly in the air indicating lordship, power, grandeur and splendor.

These are towers of a fortress-castle. The lack of windows shows the intention to make it a fortification. One sees some windows opened on one side, but there are no windows all over. Some parts of this building must lack air and light. But this was needed to prevent the place from being broken into, violated by persons wishing to penetrate it. They are towers of a fortress.

Photo taken by Michal Osmenda

Photo taken by Michal Osmenda

One still sees crenelations of a medieval tower below the hat-shaped rounded roof and the chimneys on the other wing of the building (pictured atop the page). Everything made in an angle, more easily evokes a military idea of combat than rounded forms. This hat look-alike placed on top of the tower at right gives the castle a civilian air…

In addition to the enchantment mentioned earlier, what is the first impression one has when observing the castle?

Our subconsciousness is impregnated with the horrors and smirks of modern architecture. When an architectural work like this rises up before our eyes, the main idea that goes through the mind is one of contrast. On the one hand, one sees in so many contemporary buildings a plebeian, ‘adorned proletarian’ aspect; and on the other hand, ornate buildings like this one, which displays beauty and nobility. This architectural complex forms a whole in opposition to a modern building complex.Crown dividercastel garden The garden is especially beautiful. It consists of large plots of grass and shrubs, making for a certain reverential distinction between a person looking to the castle and the castle itself. The park maintains the distance. All that which is respectable, attracts while maintaining a distance. This is proper to respectability. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the infinite and perfect model of this. Looking at the real images of the Divine Redeemer, our soul feels a tendency to fly to His heart and … kneel; for all things reputable and elevated attract but maintain the hierarchy.

The castle of Valençay attracts. But is it true or not that it instills respect?Crown dividercastelI ask: is it not true that it would do countless people a lot of good, if instead of having to stare at today’s bland and cold city hall buildings, they could admire edifices of this nature?

Another bold question. Who is more cultured: an illiterate peasant who frequently visits the castle and learns how to admire, love and respect, or someone else living like many others in the countryside who learn how to read, write, do the four arithmetic operations and pick up a smattering of geography but are in touch only with the municipal government, the police station, and the income tax center?

It is not true that an illiterate person who knows how to appreciate this building understands things better than a literate one who knows not how to appreciate it?

So, we must recognize that there is another form of illiteracy. It is not the one whereby one does not know how to read and write, but it is a kind of illiteracy of the spirit whereby one is unable to sense the beauties and wonders of art, culture and civilization.

The preceding article is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on August 2, 1989. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.


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