09 June, 2011


Avignon Square
Arles is to Romans as Avignon is to Popes and yes there are factions in every organisation.  In 1309 there were a few factions within Rome and a scheming French king so the then Pope left Rome and set up his court in Avignon.  Now the palace was a modest place so he set about building a more opulent palace for his cardinals and his hangers on.  To do this he had to tax the folks in the country side.  He got a huge palace right on the river Rhone.  We pulled alongside the city walls and was able to climb a few stair to get right into the large square in front of the palace.
Palais des Papes
Not only did they build this palace but a Chateauneuf du Pape right up the road where they planted some grapes.  I remember my father opening a few bottles of this wine from this vineyard in the Cotes du Rhone on special occasions, thanks to the Sedgewick’s importing business.  So on my birthday while in Avignon I too open a few bottles of the local 2006 vintage and celebrated the good times past and those in the future.
Now Pope Clement V didn’t last that long so the next Pope needed more rooms so he added an extra few wings and so it went for the next 77 years but unfortunately the taxes did not flow in as expected so the court had to borrow and go into deficit.  That was the beginning of the end.  They could not afford the lifestyle and the Pope returned to Rome where they stayed to this day.
Chateauneuf du Pape
There is a lesson there for all government around the world especially the current Australian labour party– be careful in running a deficit and trim your lifestyle for your days will be numbered.

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