Monday, July 18, 2016

Plan of the Hôtel d'Angoulême

So one of the PCs was captured by Henri de Valois, Comte de Lauraguay. Henri is the grandson of Charles IX of France. His father is the Duc de .Angoulême and the illegitimate son of Charles IX by his mistress Marie Touchet. Henri is mad. In the two usual senses of the word. He blames one of the PCs, the Seigneur de Chambre for the disappearance of Henri's witch. This made Henri angry. When Henri is angry his cruelty is uncontrolled. It's a flaw. (He's a villain; it's Honor+Intrigue, flaws are a thing.) And since Henri is crazy* mad, he devised a rather bizarre method of dealing with de Chambre. 

Not surprising, once the other PCs figured out that de Chambre was missing they set about finding and rescuing him. In the process, I had to figure out where family's house was in Paris. Since dad's a Duke, I assumed they would have a hôtel particulier, which is what the French call a Parisian mansion or grand private home in town. A quick search on Google and I found an entry for the Hôtel d'Angoulême-Lamoignon which is (it still exists) in the Marais district of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, number 24 rue Pavée which is at the corner of the rue Pavée and the rue des Francs-Bourgeois. 

However finding out exactly where that was on any of my usual period maps for Paris turned out to be more challenging than I thought. The address was helpful, but only if I could find which street on my map was the rue Pavée. Like many Parisian streets the name had changed a number of times and it also had a different name once it crossed the rue rue des Francs-Bourgeois. Sorting that out took some time. Fortunately, unlike some streets, the rue des Francs-Bourgeois still has the same name today. Even more fortunately, it begins at the Place des Vosges and runs west past the Hôtel d'Angoulême (the Lamoignon was added later after a change in ownership). In 1624, the Place des Vosges was called the Place Royale, and it was a fancy new area with townhouses for those who, while still rich, did not have an hôtel particulier to call home. 

I easily found some photos of the mansion, which was great. It even has a watchtower, which is a nice medieval touch. Apparently watchtowers were all the rage for medieval and renaissance mansions in Paris, but shortly before the 1620s a royal decree prohibited architectural features that, like this watchtower, overhung the street. So the fashion passed. But the presence and location of the watchtower will turn out to be important.

To locate the rue rue Pavée, I tried counting blocks from the Place de Vosges on Google Maps and matching those blocks to one of my Parisian maps. After maybe five minutes or so, I found what looked like a great site for some swashbuckling adventure.
The buildings with the yellow roof seemed to be in the right place and it had a big garden with towers. Also it looked like there was a big wrought iron garden gate, which would let the PCs scout out the gardens and the garden side of the house. I decided there was an alley between the Duke's hotel and the adjacent hotel. The players decided to use the alley to try to climb up a drain pipe.

There was only one problem. That's not the right house. It's not even the right block. By closely examining the modern Google Map and using street view to find the watchtower, I realized that the watchtower was on the southeast corner of the intersection of the rue Pavée and the rue des Francs-Bourgeois. This places the watchtower on the northwest corner of the hotel. But on the map above, the northwest corner of the hotel isn't on a main intersection and the only southeast corners are either the building towards the lower left of the map in the same block as the house with the yellow roof or in the block across the street from the top of the map. (You may be confused by my directions. If you are, it is probably because north is to the left on the map. It usually is in period maps of Paris. I don't know why, but by now I'm quite used to it.)

Now I had to find the actual location of the Hôtel d'Angoulême. I went to the French site for the rue Pavée and did some more reading. I learned that the Prison de la Petite-Force was more or less next to the mansion.With some more reading, I remembered that the Prison de la Petite-Force was once a
hôtel particulier--the Hôtel de la Force. I knew where that was on a couple of my Paris period maps. From some more reading about the rue Pavée I learned that another section of the same street was called the rue Payenne (Pagan Street). Going back to my period maps and using the new knowledge that the mansion was on the southeast corner of the intersection with the two mentioned streets, that it was adjacent to the Hôtel de la Force and that the rue Pavée turned into the  rue Payenne, I was able to find the house. Yeah!

Unfortunately the 3D perspective of my period maps kind of crapped out in this part of Paris. Here's what it looked like.
The Hôtel de la Force is the massive building towards the right with the blue roofs and the Hôtel d'Angoulême is in the same oddly shaped block. It is the building on the far left end of the block. Trust me when I say there is not much detail to be gleaned from this drawing and by comparison with other maps, both modern and ancien, the shape of the block is significantly distorted. The vertical dimensions are significantly compressed obscuring the buildings behind the Hôtel d'Angoulême as well as the fairly extensive gardens behind it and between it and the Hôtel de la Force.

I found a nice engraving of the mansion which, based on the age of the artist, can be placed near the middle of the 17th century. The view is of the garden side of the house, which, as we shall see, faces the east.
L'hostel d'Angoulesme du costé du Jardin by Israel Silvestre
You can also see that the garden behind the house looks to be at least the size of the main house and outbuildings. A fact that is not at all apparent on the map. I could have changed the location of the Hôtel d'Angoulême and used the map I first found. I did that with the Hôtel de Bellegarde so that I could use the nice set of floor plans from the Louis XIV era mansion that was used by the Bellegarde family. But one reason I'd done that with the Hôtel de Bellegarde was because I couldn't find the location or images of whatever Paris mansion they were using in the 1620s. And here I had just found the exact location and the mansion still exists today. 

So I decided to make my own floor plan. To do that I named the Google image of the hotel and ported that over to PowerPoint so I could draw rectangles for the buildings over the image to get approximately the right sizes and orientations. I made a few modifications to better align my floor plan with the engraving above and added a watchtower that my players and I could actually see on the plan. I found that drawing the rectangles was tricking since I kept grabbing the Google image instead. I could have used layers in GIMP, but I'm still not all that familiar with GIMP. So I cheated. I took the image and moved it to the Master Slide. That way is appears as the slide background and the damn thing doesn't move. Then I traced my buildings, added some rectangles of greenery for the garden, a tan pattern for the paths, and a gray pattern for the courtyard. 

One nice thing about using the Google Map is it comes with a scale. I first zoomed my map so I had a 50' interval. Using that I created my own scale in 10' increment. I used the 3D view in Google Maps to locate the doors off the interior courtyard, added a stair and an outbuilding like that in the engraving, drew in and labeled some streets and voila...

I'll do a follow up post where I show a map for my players that includes the garden sentry route and timings. 

EDIT: I updated the map after taking another look at the engraving and I also added a compass rose.

* There's not a lot of information about Henri. But I found this, 

Folie d'Henri d'Angoulême, Henri d'Angoulême, Comte de Lauraguais, est déshérité en 1609 et enfermé près de 50 ans pour cause de démence.
Which Google translated as: "Madness of Henri d'Angoulême, Henri d'Angoulême, Count of Lauraguais is disinherited in 1609 and imprisoned for nearly 50 years by reason of insanity."

I bent history a bit, by allowing Henri to still be running loose and the heir in 1624. But the chance to have a real mad villain who was the grandson of a King of France was just too good to pass up.

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