Sunday, 22 July 2012

Skokloster Slott

Yesterday, my parents, grandparents (on my father's side) all took a trip to Skokloster Castle, built between the years 1654 and 1676 and erected by Carl Gustaf Wrangel, a major player in politics, fashion, and high society of seventeenth century Europe. Wrangel died before its completion, and the building still stands unfinished to this day. It was built primarily to impress upon his fellow bourgeoisie the might and power at his behest. He himself, owning sixteen other castles, spent only thirty days on the premises.

The church connected to the castle

An apple orchard, just like Cair Paravel's, though this one is well-tended

The castle was built above the river Mälaren, the main highway of the day, so that all the boats passing by could admire its expanse and beauty, and by extension the majesty of its lord.

Farfar waits for me on the steps, looking every bit like the lord of the castle.

Our guide

We joined a guided tour through the three levels of the castle. I am always fascinated by the many intricacies of the social hierarchy of the time. The bedroom was not the same as the bed chamber; the bed chamber was only used to receive visitors, conferring unto them the honor of having visited the lord's inner sanctum. (Louis XIV developed this to an art form in the French court, receiving visitors in various forms of undress, the more intimate the layering, the higher the honour.) Before entering the bed chamber, the visitors were asked to wait in the next room, where they were faced with a wall-sized painting of Carl Gustaf Wrangel majestically astride his gallant horse, holding the reins lightly in one hand and wielding a blood-stained rapier in the other. The visitor was expected to grow increasingly nervous at the prospect of visiting a count of such great esteem and unquestionable courage.

Did you know that the preferred physical form was pear-shaped, and that the men would wear wide breeches, garters, waistcoat (padded to give that desirable paunch), and colorful coat with sash, frilled collar, and hat complete with plume (to signify nobility).

And did you know ballet developed from the baroque period? Our guide showed us how any man of importance in the seventeenth century would enter a room. A man walked with his arms out, palms open, taking up as much space as possible, without bending his knees, which meant he swayed from side to side in a way, our guide told us, was known as 'frenching.'

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