The Palace of Justice in Poitiers was the seat of the Counts of Poitou and Dukes of Aquitaine in the 10-12th centuries. The former Merovingian kingdom of Aquitaine was re-established by Charlemagne for his son Louis the Pious; in the 9th century, a palace was constructed or reconstructed for him, one among many, above a Roman wall datable to the late 3rd century, at the highest spot of the town. Louis stayed there many times as a king and then returned to the palace after becoming, in 839 and 840. The palatium was specifically called a palace in the reign of Charles the Bald. After the disintegration of the Carolingian realm, the palace became the seat of the Counts of Poitiers. The first palace of Poitiers was completely destroyed by a fire in 1018.
The palace was completely rebuilt, straddling the wall, by the Count-Dukes of Aquitaine, then at the pinnacle of their power. In 1104, Count William IX added a donjon on the town side. It is known as the tour Maubergeon, after his mistress Amauberge, wife of Vicomte Aimery de Châtellerault and grandmother of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The rectangular keep is reinforced with four smaller square towers projecting from each corner; it was greatly damaged when the southern portion of the palace was set ablaze by Henry of Grosmont in 1346.
Between 1191 and 1204, Eleanor fitted up a dining hall, the Salle des Pas Perdus, the 'hall of lost footsteps', where a footfall was silenced by the vastness of its space— 50 metres in length, 17 metres in width, perhaps the largest in contemporary Europe. The hall has not retained its original beamed ceiling; it has been covered by chestnut woodwork, constructed in 1862 by a team of marine carpenters from La Rochelle. The walls of the hall are daubed and painted so as to imitate stone facing. Their monotony is relieved by cusped arches resting on slender columns. A stone bench rings the walls of the hall.
In 1384-86 Jean I, duc de Berry, who was also appanage count of Poitiers, rebuilt the part of the palace which had been destroyed by fire. On the one hand, the donjon and the ramparts were reconstructed; on the other hand, the private apartments were restored in the Gothic Flamboyant style by Jean's court architect and sculptor Guy de Dammartin. These works were undertaken between 1388 and 1416, during pauses in the course of the Hundred Years' War.
The tour Maubergeon was reconstructed on three floors with ogival vaulting, illuminated by glazed windows and topped by nineteen statues. Of these, only sixteen pieces survive: they represent the duke's counsellors in clerical habits, while the statues of the duke and his wife are missing. In its unfinished state, the tower has neither machicolations nor canopies above the statues.
At the behest of Guy de Dammartin, three monumental stoves were installed in the grand hall; they were decorated with Gothic Flamboyant statuary and surmounted by a gallery. The southern wall of the hall was also overhauled: it was pierced by great bays which masked the pipes from outside view. The exterior of this wall was decorated with flamboyant ogives. The floor was tiled by Jehan de Valence, called 'the Saracen' in the accounts, with green and gold circular lustred maiolica tiles. When the project was complete, Jehan de Valence returned home to Valencia, and no further lustred tin-glazed faience was produced in France.
The count-dukes sometimes administered justice in the great hall. It was there that Hugues de Lusignan, comte de la Marche, publicly challenged Louis IX on Christmas Day, 1241. After the province of Poitou was reattached to the royal domain, la salle des pas perdus was renamed la salle du Roi ('the royal hall'). A judicial institution, le parlement royal, sat there from 1418 to 1436.
The palace was used for administering justice: on 5 June 1453 Jacques Coeur was tried there, and justice was dispensed in the Palais de Justice through the French Revolution. In 1821, a monumental staircase with a Doric portico was attached to the medieval building. Too soon to benefit from interest generated by the Gothic Revival, the duc de Berry's private apartments were gradually demolished to give room to the appellate court and its chancery.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.