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Les Enervés de Jumiègues, this curious romantic painting is so realistic, that one can easily imagine hearing the lapping of water around this raft walking two young people in the wind, resting after a good evening! Well no, this scene is not that happy!
Evariste-Vital Luminais (1822-1896), "painter firefighter" because he painted battle scenes where men wore helmets like firefighters, represents the two sons of Clovis II lying in a sort of boat or raft. They are inert, covered with Merovingian-style fabrics, their feet wrapped in canvas strips, a flowery reliquary and a lighted candle at the end of the boat.
History has it that Clovis II left for the Holy Land, leaving the government to his wife Bathilde. The eldest son rebels and excludes his mother from the Council. Clovis eventually learns about it and returning to France, he finds himself facing an army led by his sons, but succeeds in triumphing. Clovis and Bathilde, after much thought, decide to "irritate" them, a term meaning "to cut the nerves, tendons and ligaments" in the days of lazy kings.
This is what we can read in the life of Saint Bathilde "when the young men were brought before their father, in the presence of all, she ordered that their sinews be burned with nails reddened in the fire". Weakened in this way, the repentant sons throw themselves into prayer, while Bathilde has them installed aboard a raft left adrift, accompanied by a servant who feeds them. The boat ran aground at Jumièges, near Rouen. The founder of the abbey, Philibert, welcomes them to this holy place where they became monks and ended their lives.
This legend is false, however, Clovis II died too young for his sons to reign and he never left for the Holy Land.
Curiosities and Riddles of French History - JP Colignon
Rouen Museum of Fine Arts