Pièce 18 - Description par Peter Heylyn des châteaux de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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Description par Peter Heylyn des châteaux de Saint-Germain-en-Laye


  • 1656 (Production)

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1 document sur support papier

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(1599 - 1662)

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Historien et géographe anglais.

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« [p. 60] Two leagues from Ruel, is the Kings house of St. Germain en Olay, a house seated on the top of a hill just like Windsore. The town of St. Germain lyeth all about it, the river Seine (of the same breadth as the Thames is at the place mentioned) runneth below it; and the house by reason of the site, having a large command upon the country round about it. The town is poor and hath nothing in it remarkable but the name, which it took from St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre, who, together with St. Lupus, bishop of Troyes, sailed into Britain to root out Pelagianism. The castle or seat Royall is divided into two parts, the old and the new; the old, which is next unto the town, is built of bricks, and for forme is triangular : founded it was at the first by [p. 61] Charles V, since strengthned and beautified by the English when it was in their possession. Francis I added to it the upper story and the battlements, and in memoriam facti hath left a capitall F upon every of the chimnies. The new house, distant from the old about a surlong, and to which you descend by a handsome green court, was built by Henry IV. It consisteth of three severall parts, all joined together, the two outermost quadrangular, that un the middle almost round and in the fashion of a Jewish synagogue. Here we saw the volatory full of sundry forain birds, and in one of the lower rooms great store of outlandish conies; but these were accessories. The principall was the majesty of the house, which is, indeed, worth the observation. The palace of the Louvre, so much famed, is not to be named in the same day with it. The rooms are well ordered, and high roofed, gorgeously set out with the curiosities of the painter. In some of the chambers they shewed us some poeticall fictions expressed by the pencil in the windows and on the wainscot, and seemed to glory much in them. I confesse they might have plentifully possessed my fancy, had I not seen the window of Gerrambury gallery, belonging to the Right Honorable Francis, Viscount St. Albans; a window in which all the Fables of Ovids Metamorphosis are so naturally and lively dissembled, that is ever art went beyond itself, it was in that admirable expression.
Let us now take a view of the water-works, and here we shall see in the first water-house, which is a stately large walk vaulted over head, the effigies of a dragon, just against the entrance; an unquiet beast that vomiteth on all that come nigh it. At The end toward the right hand is the statua of a nymph sitting before a paire of organs. Upon the loosing of one of the pipes, the nymphs fingers began to manage the keyes, and brought the instrument to yield such a musick, that if it were not that of an organ, it was as like is coule be, and not be the same. Unto the division of her fingers, her head kept a porpotionable time; joiting from one shoulder to the other, as I have have seen an old fidler at a wake. In the same proportion were the couterleits of all sorts of mils, weh before very eagerly discharged their functions: [p. 62] but upon the beginning of this harmony, they suddenly stood still, as if they had had ears to have heard it. At the other end towards the left hand, we saw a shop of smiths, another of joiners, and a backside full of sawyers and masons, all idle. Upon the first command of the water, thet all fell to their occupations, and plyed them justily; the birds everywhere tinging, and so saving the artificers the labour of a whistling. Besides, upon the drawing of a wooden courtain, there appeared unto us, two tritons riding on their dolphins, and each of them with a shell in his hand, which interchangeably and in turns served them instead of trumpets. A very happy decorum, and truly poeticall.
Caeruleum tritons vocat, conchaque sonanti
Inspirare jubet,
As Ovid of him.
Afterward followes Neptune himself, sitting in his chariot, drawn with four torroyses, and grasping his tricuspis or three scepter in his hand: the water under them representing all this wile, a sea somewhat troubled. 36 steps from the front of the house we descended into this waterhouse; and by 60 more we descended into a second of the same fashion, but not of an equall length with the other. At the right hand of this, is the whole story of Perseus, Andromeda and the whale lively acted; the whale being killed, and the lady unloosed from the rock very perfectly. But withall, it was so cunningly managed, and that with such a mutuall change of fortune, on the parties of both the combatants, that one who had no known the fable, would have been affraid that the knight would have lost the victory, and the lady her life. At the other end there was shown unto us,
Orpheus in sylvis postus, sylvaque sequentes.
There appeared unto us the resemblance of Orpheus, playing on a treble vial, the trees moving with the force of the [p. 63] musick, and the wilde beasts dancing in two rings about him. An invention which could not but cost K. Henry a great sum of money; one only string of the sidle being by mischance broken, having coste King Lewis his son 1500 livres. Upon the opening of a double-leaved door, there were exhibited to us divers representations and conceits, which certainly might have been more gracefull, if they had not so much in them of the puppet play. By some steps more we descended into the garden, and by as many more into a green, which opened into the waterside; in which the goodliest flower and most pleasing to my eyes, and the statua of an horse in brasse, of that bignesse, that I and one of my companions could stand in the neck of him. Bat dismounting from this horse, we mounted our own, and so took our leaves of St. Germain. »

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Peter Heylyn, A survey of the estate of France and of some of the adjoyning ilands, taken in the description of the principal cities, and chief provinces, Londres, Henry Seul, 1656, p. 60-63. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1022193/f109.image

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