No one likes a snitch – least of the good people of Brantôme. The local abbot’s philandering and gossiping failed to amuse them and a fall that left him partially paralysed was seen as his comeuppance.
This all took place 400 years ago, I should mention.
Pierre de Bourdeille was the abbot of the Dordogne town of Brantôme. The town is often considered one of the most beautiful in the French département.
Situated on an island in the river Dronne, the town sits beneath cliffs and forested hills. It is affectionately known as the Venice of Périgord.
De Bourdeille was known simply as Brantôme. He became abbot at the age of 22 and used the abbey’s money to finance his own lifestyle. He took trips to Italy, Portugal and Morocco and even accompanied Mary Stuart to Scotland. Plans for a trip to Peru were halted by the wars of religion.
The bad boy of Brantôme became bitter when King Henri III turned him down for a promotion, so he flounced off to Spain, planning to fight against France.
A fall from his horse prevented him from committing this treasonous act and left him partly paralysed. While he convalesced, he penned a couple salacious accounts of his time in Brantôme, Vie des Hommes Illustres et Grands Capitaines Français and Vie des Dames Galantes.
“Brantôme became bitter when turned down for a promotion, so he flounced off to Spain, planning to fight against France”
Both books were so shocking that he banned his heirs from publishing them until 50 years after his death. By that time, the people in them were dead – as was much of the interest in Brantôme and his tales.