Tuesday, June 26, 2012

La Nuit de L'Escalade

On December 11th 1602, the forces of the Duke of Savoy launched an attack on the wealthy city-state of Geneva, one he had coveted for years. The troops marched along the Arve River at night and assembled at Plainpalais, just outside the city walls. At 2 o'clock in the morning they started their attack. The original plan was to send in a group of commandos to open the gate door, but the night guard Isaac Mercier raised the alarm, church bells were rung, and the Genevois awoke to save their city. The largest part of the Savoyard fighting force tried to scale the city walls with their black ladders but were repelled. The populace fought alongside the town militia and the Duke's 2000-plus mercenaries were repelled. After the defeat, the Duke of Savoy was obliged to accept a lasting peace, sealed by the Treaty of St. Julien, signed July 12, 1603.

Most of the books in our library have specific family significance, but some are important because of the region of Switzerland they come from. La Nuit de L'Escalade is just such a book. The book was published by ATAR (Ateliers Artistiques) in Geneva and penned by Alex Guillot. It has letterpress pages and beautifully reproduced color illustrations done by E. Elzingre. During my almost three years in Geneva I remember celebrating the Fête de L'Escalade a number of times and feel lucky to have such a beautiful family heirloom that celebrates its significance.

I have included below a representative page and illustrations from the 1915 ATAR edition. Enjoy.

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