Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Marlowe's visit to Switzerland,
June-July 2007



Newly graduated from university, soon to be off to job-hunting, Marlowe visits the Old Dad in Switzerland.

Castles of Switzerland: Grandson

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Fourth of July 2007, suitably rainy and dreary in honor of the patriotic occasion, but we're going to make the best of it by visiting the Castle of Grandson once again.

There it is, dripping glumly.

We'll just go dry off and wait in the café for our croques monsieur to toast up for 15 minutes or so, and then get ourselves sorted out and go visit the castle.

A drizzly rain, we're moving pretty fast now to get inside. Even the castle's torture chamber would be better than a chilly rain.

Oh, no, it wouldn't. Grandson's re-creation of a "Medieval Torture Chamber" just inside the main entrance -- NOT where I'd place the torture chamber in MY house -- with all kinds of instruments of pain, including a Scold's Bridle, and, for some reason, a genuine medieval chastity belt.

That's a mannikin standing there, not a real guy. It's not clear what a headsman's axe has got to do with a torture chamber, but this whole thing is pretty goofy, probably just marketing the medieval product.

The narrator confronted for the first time by a 16th century harquebus, not convinced that it's safe for visitors.

This is, evidently, the old Knights' Hall, for deliberating big issues and making judgments on people, now available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. Very lovely, very woodish. Q. Which way to the toilets, A. Just follow the signs.

A display of medieval and early Renaissance weaponry

Military guys enclosed behind Big Plastic and harmless for the moment

As in any civilized museum, you're supposed to check your steeds and weapons at the front door.

Warlike guys with their weapons of choice

The courtyard of the Château de Grandson, in a drizzly rain

The ramparts, from the inside

Marlowe at Grandson. There is an excellent audio-visual show here, in a choice of languages, that shows the stages of development of the castle from Adalbert's first tower in 1050 and a few huts around it to the major improvements completed in 1281 by Otto I, who returned a wealthy man from the Crusades.

"Princess in the Tower". It's great to have her visiting here again.

The narrator loves photos taken out of archways and windows

Lac de Neuchâtel in the background

In 1475 the castle was garrisoned by the Burgundians, whose Duke, Charles the Bold, had serious territorial presumptions. Sturdy fellows from the Swiss Confederation besieged them and allowed them to surrender and go home again. Alas, Duke Charles, observing the Cheney Rule about disobedience in foreign relations, came back in February 1476 to teach those Swiss a lesson in hegemony, took the town and then the castle, having promised the Swiss garrison safe passage and then hanging them all from nearby trees.

Two days later, a hastily assembled Swiss army, with units from as far away as Uri in the Bernese Oberland, met the Burgundians just north of the castle along the shores of Lac de Neuchâtel and kicked Burgundian butt conclusively on 2 March 1476, the most famous battle in Swiss history.

The narrator loves photos taken out of archways and windows.

Charles the Bold had been unbold and in fleeing the battle had left behind hundreds of millions of today-dollars' worth of gold, silver, tents and tapestries, artworks, and other accoutrements of the modern battlefield, as well as 400 cannon, 10,000 horses, etc. The Swiss followed up by beating his next army of 30,000 at nearby Murten ('Morat' in French) and then at Nancy, and ended Charles le Téméraire's dreams of empire in Western Europe (as well as Charles le Téméraire himself).

Much more civilized than the toilets at the Château de Chillon, which have two seats side by side.

1476 was the Castle of Grandson's great moment in history -- it subsequently became an armory, a bailiff's house, a granary, and a local prison under various municipal governments. (That may not be literally true, but it's the common tale of Swiss castles from the 17th century onward.)

Down in the dungeons of the Château de Grandson -- the vintage automobiles museum. If you like old cars, this is probably a pilgrimage site. (There's a discrete door in the side of the dungeon wall for getting these things in and out when they're needed elsewhere.) The museum managers, it must be said, have done an excellent job of dressing the place up with ancient posters, photographs, and artifacts, and scary mannikins in period costume.

Marlowe viewing the "oubliette" -- a prison-sort of thing where they'd lower guys down through that hole into a windowless chamber and "forget" about them (thus the name), though, frankly, I'm not sure they could get me down through that hole no matter how hard they went at it.

An utter downpour in downtown Grandson village. How to get to the car (2nd from right, pointing the wrong way)?

Marlowe dodging rain drops adroitly

A last look at Grandson and we're off in the rain for home, until next time.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 19 August 2007, revised 29 September 2014.


Marlowe Tyson Peck