Tag Archives: History

l’Escalade – Part Two – Historical Parade

6 Jan

The Story

RoyaumeOn the night of December 11, 1602, Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy attacked Geneva by surprise after walking from La Roche and Haute-Savoie. There were more than two thousand men on foot and horseback and they arrived in Plainpalais, just outside the old city walls. Awoken from their slumber, the citizens of Geneva, the militia and the city guards seized their weapons to fight the enemy. No doubt there was a fierce battle that followed, but the story ends with the Frenchmen running back to their camp before sunrise.

The most famous symbol remembered from this invasion, and indeed the only part of the story we heard until attending this years celebrations,  was the pot of soup (“Marmite”) which Madame Cheynel, also known as the Mother Kingdom, tossed over the old city wall onto the head of an assailant below. Common folklore says that this was the reason for the victory over the French.

The Celebrations

DSC03819DSC03809This year was the 410th anniversary of the Escalade and celebrations commenced on Friday 7th December and ending on Sunday 9th December. The Escalade hisorical society (The Compagnie de 1602), along with over a thousand volunteers, recreates life as it was at the end of the 17th century in the old town of Geneva and around the cathedral. Festival activities to be enjoyed and explored included tours of the Old Town Hall, street defence manoeuvres and battle presentations, exhibitions of body armour and arsenal, access to secret walkways in the old town wall fortifications, and of course food stalls selling mulled wine and soup.

This was a totally new and exciting experience for us. Australia is such a young country (comparatively) that we have no wars or battles fought in the 17th century to commemorate or grand victories to celebrate, and so to join in the revelry of our adopted home town was really special.

DSC03888DSC03874The celebrations were brought to a close on Sunday evening, with a historical procession through the streets of Geneva. At five different locations along the route, the procession stops and a herald invites Genevans and visitors to recall that memorable night during which the city’s population won a lasting peace and to join in the singing of the traditional victory song.

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l’Escalade – Part One – Course de l’Escalade

3 Dec

The History

On the night of December 11, 1602, Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy attacked Geneva by surprise after walking from La Roche and Haute-Savoie. There were more than two thousand men on foot and horseback and they arrived in Plainpalais, just outside the old city walls. Awoken from their slumber, the citizens of Geneva, the militia and the city guards seized their weapons to fight the enemy.

In a number of places the fighting was fierce and many a heroic act was performed. As the cannon roared, the Savoyard army, driven back, was forced to flee. In the morning, the Genevans, who had lost eighteen of their fellow citizens, gathered in the churches to give thanks to God for having saved them from such grave danger.

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