Posts Tagged ‘Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune’

The Hundred Years War has recently ended, decimating the countryside and the people, roving bands prowl the area raping and pillaging those people still left, and there’s been a recent outbreak of the plague.  What’s a man to do?

If you’re in Beaune, Burgundy and your name is Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor to Duke Phillip the Good and Chancellor of Burgundy (a position of extreme power and wealth), you and your wife Guigone decide to found an almshouse and hospital for the poor called Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune.  At the end of December 1452, with the blessing of Pope Eugene IV, the hospital was consecrated.  Remember…this was an era where the rich generally tried to get richer, get more land and get more poor people to do their work.  In this environment, Nicolas was one-of-a-kind…in a good way!

According to Wikipedia, “The facade is today regarded as a superior example of Northern Renaissance civic architecture and a treasure trove of panel painting, given its numerous portraits of Rolin, his wife and members of his extended family.”  We can attest to that, as for a small fee, we toured the beautifully restored and maintained building and learned all about it, courtesy of a free audio commentary available in many languages (although mine originally didn’t work and then tried to put out Chinese or something.)

The hospital was maintained in a variety of ways, including donations from grateful families.  Today, every November a prestigious wine auction is held for funding, although the hospital is now in another location.  In a time when the rich were mostly out for themselves and the poor were nearly all destitute, Nicolas and Guigone stand as bright lights of compassion and their legacy lives on all these years later.

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Part of the pharmacy.  There’s more than a bit of “eye of newt” about the ingredients in the jars, but there was still much good being done, as witnessed by the gratitude of those healed and their families.

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The kitchen was where nuns of the religious order Rolin established cooked meals for the sick as well as the workers.


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At first, these beds were where the nuns slept but later they were used for private patients, who paid for keep and care.  This helped finance the work among the poor and destitute, the vast majority of the population.

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You can read more about Nicolas Rolin or the Hospices by clicking on the links.  For those of you waiting to hear about our day at le Tour, that post will be coming next week, once we’re back in the States and I can take the time to write about it as well as share photos.  It was a grand experience and I want to attempt to do it justice!  And there’s a story yet about barging in France and much more!  So stay tuned.


Today’s entry for Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge comes to you all the way from France.  So pour a glass of wine (Burgundy, please); assemble a plate of pâté, Comté cheese, crusty bread and some slices of melon; turn on today’s stage of le Tour and get ready to say, “Mon Deiu!”


At the Tourist Office in Mélisey, this guy is dressed for le Tour, which will end at La Planche des Belles Filles on Monday.


Spotted in Beaune, outside the Dali exhibit.


Inside the Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune, a former charitable almshouse in Beaune, France, founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, as a hospital for the poor.