The Mysteries Of Love And Death At Brou Flamboyant Church

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The magnificent Church of Brou is located sixty six kilometers North-East of Lyon. It was built in the astonishing Flamboyant Gothic Style of the 16th century. The tombs of Marguerite of Austria and her husband Philibert II are very finely carved and the

West façade of the Church of Brou, part of the Royal Monastery at Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain), France.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Eglise_de_Brou1.jpg

In 1501, the 21-year-old Marguerite of Austria married her third husband, Philibert, who was named Le Beau, on account of his charm. He was the son of Marguerite de Bourbon and Philippe de Bresse, Duke of Savoy. Tragically he died three years later of a chill, and left Marguerite a widow at 24. She was intelligent, well-educated, energetic, and the daughter of the Emperor. She had seen her second husband die (after the first repudiated her); then an infant son; and then her father- and mother-in-law; and now Philibert. She must have thought often of the terrible fate that carried away anyone, king or commoner, a fate that was so often represented at the beginning of the 16th century in the image of the dance of death. 

Before she died, Marguerite de Bourbon had vowed to build a fine new monastery in place of the old priory of Brou; and Marguerite of Austria felt it was a vow that she should fulfill. Inspired by this sacred duty, she gave over all the revenue of the Duchy of Savoy to building what was to be a temple of love.

The finest masons in Burgundy, and perhaps in Flanders, worked on the nave, which is one of those dreams carved in stone that the Flamboyant Style of the 16th century so often produced; a forest of columns whose clusters rise unbroken to the vault, without capitals, before dividing into their many fingers. A gallery with pierced  balustrade runs above the arcades of the nave, and the choir is divided from the laity by means of an astonishing rood-screen attributed to Van Boghem from Brussels, decorated with garlands and topped above each of its arches with the initials P and M conjoined in a love-knot. Marguerite  kept a high chapel on the left for herself, where she attended services.

This profusion of ornamentation, a kind of petrified vegetation collapsing like a plant too heavy for its own weight, is bathed in a light that seems almost supernatural as it reflects the colours of the windows rather than the whiteness of the alabaster tombs. The choir was designed around these tombs - Marguerite de Bourbon is on the right, Philibert in the centre and Marguerite of Austria herself on the left, all protected by a stone fretwork screen and watched over by a group of infinitely graceful statuettes, mourners shedding their tears for the woes of the world. And, maybe, for the Gothic Age itself: "it is not only the Duke and Duchess of Savoy who sleep in that coffin", wrote Edgar Quinet. "The whole past millennium is there, and the ancient faith. And the ancient love..."

The apse of the Church of Brou with its beautiful colourful tiles .

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/200606_-_Eglise_de_Brou_-_arri%C3%A8re_1.JPG

Tomb of Philibert II, Church of Brou.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Eglise_de_Brou7_Philibert_II_de_Savoie.jpg

Tomb of Marguerite of Austria, Church of Brou.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7f/Eglise_de_Brou6_marguerite_d%27autriche.jpg

The astonishing rood-screen in the Church of Brou.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Bourg_en_Bresse_eglise_de_brou_005.JPG

Details of tomb sculptures at Brou Church. The initials P and M conjoined with a love-knot.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Bourg_en_Bresse_eglise_de_brou_018.JPG?uselang=fr

Sculptures of the tomb of Philibert II, at Brou Church.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/Bourg_en_Bresse_eglise_de_brou_022.JPG?uselang=fr

Tomb of Marguerite of Austria, Church of Brou.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Bourgogne%2C_Bresse%2C_Boubon%2C_Bourges_043-1.jpg?uselang=fr

Tomb of Marguerite de Bourbon.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Monestir_de_Brou_Margarida_de_Borbo.jpg?uselang=fr

Choir, Church of Brou.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d9/Church_of_brou_choir_windows.jpg?uselang=fr

The Christ and the Pilgrims of Emmaus, stained-glass window, Brou Church.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/Fr_Eglise_de_Brou_Emmaus_pilgrims_window.jpg?uselang=fr

Cloisters, Church of Brou.

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Monestir_de_Brou_Claustre_1.jpg?uselang=fr

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