Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Bishopric of St. Vignobles

Through inheritance,  marriage, and in reward for centuries of gallant service, the Bouillon-Cantinat estates have increased steadily in size and wealth since their beginnings as the ancient family inheritances of Sangfroid in Picardy.  The years have seen the incorporation of the town and environs of Roué in Artois, as well as other sundry properties of worth.  At present, our holdings now extend to the very limits of the realm since the acquisition of the Ecclesiastical Seat of St. Vignobles.  Alas, it is both the pride and burden of my family that in the latter, it has fallen to us to rule over what is one of the most blessed, and yet cursed, estates of Europe.

After the death of the childless Charles the Bold at the hands of the redoubtable Swiss in 1477, the principality, along with other lands that constituted the former Duchy, were granted (after considerable negotiation) to King Louis XI.  In turn, the King himself turned the Bishopric over gratis to the custody of my forbears in perpetuity, as a token of thanks for their constant service.   In return, The Bouillon-Cantinat family was sworn to uphold the Catholic faith and the interests of the French monarchy.  In addition, an annual tribute of six casks of communion wine was to be made to the crown, which to this day is administered to the devout, lately at the great chapel of Versailles itself.

Thus the land is blessed, in that the vineyards of St. Vignobles are considered to produce some of the finest wines in Europe- nectar to the Gods themselves. 

Cursed, in that it lie between the great and powerful Duchy of Lorraine and the lands of the Holy Roman Emperor himself, and the loss of the region was felt keenly by both.  Powerful is he who boasts possession of its citadel, a forbidding edifice commended by the great Vauban himself, and which has stood for many hundreds of years with a commanding view of the River Rhine.  Thus, the principality has been an object of desire of every Prince of ambition in the region, and only astute diplomacy and the bravery of the House of Bullion-Cantinat have ensured its survival over the years, to the eternal gratitude of the Kings of France.

Vigilance, Prudence, and The Military Arts- as well as a constant faith in the Holy Church- allowed us to exist amongst a sea of our enemies.  Well have we kept to the ancient family motto of the Bouillon-Cantinats: "A Verbis ad Verbera" ( "From Words to Blows').

But in the Year of our Lord 1743, things were looking dark indeed,  and blows were about to fall.

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