Monday, February 8, 2016

Medieval Paris: the Clocks of Charles V, the Wise

Charles V was passionate about time. Christine mentions the very strict schedule he kept in her biography of him The Book of the Deeds and Good Character of King Charles V, the Wise. The clocks he had built in Paris are a testament to that passion.

The clock at the corner of the Concierge on the Ile de la Cite in Paris was the first public clock in Paris.  Built at Charles V's direction, it was installed around 1370.   The clock that remains doesn't maintain the exterior or the workings of the original clock. Still, its presence makes it notable for those looking for remnants of Paris in the Middle Ages.  The clock was designed by Micheal de Vick, who introduced a mechaninsm to slow the chain as the weights that ran the clock lowered.  It was the first mechanical clock. 

Charles V also had a clock installed at the donjon at Vincennes and in the Louvre.  And many historians have reported that he decreed that the churches regulate the tolling of their bells by the clocks.  

Even so the watch on your wrist, the clock in your home, even the little alarm clock that you wind each night beside your bed have de Vick’s clock and Charles V's vision to thank.

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