The Four Cities
My wife thinks these are spoilers. Truth is, until you've read the book they will just be random information about four European cities.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) the people of Belfort, in north-eastern France, defended the city against a much larger force of Prussians. To commemorate the event, the city decided to build a memorial. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a sculptor, who’d been a soldier in the war (better known in America for designing and building the Statue of Liberty) thought something a little more grand was called for. The lion, carved out of limestone, ended up being 72 x 36 feet. Germany protested the original design of the lion facing them to the north and so it was rearranged to face south.
This is Cloth Hall, a building in the middle of the city of Ypres, Belgium that has housed the commercial cloth industries warehouses and market since medieval times. Though no one’s exactly sure why, up until the 1800s, people threw cats out of the belfry tower. It was either to cast out devils or witches (which people thought cats had some connection with) or simply because there were too many cats keeping the mice under control in the cloth warehouses.
Cloth Hall was bombed in 1914-1915. This is what it looked like.
This is a sculpture called “the Well of Moses” by the Dutch artist Claus Sluter (1340-1405/6). It represents the six prophets who were said to have foreseen the death of Christ on the Cross: David, Jeremiah, Zachariah, Daniel, Isaiah and Moses. It was built for Phillip the Duke of Burgundy in the middle of the cloisters in a Carthusian monastery outside of Dijon, France. The duke wanted to be buried in the monastery so he would benefit from the constant prayer. Originally the figures were the base for a tall crucifix, but the thing got banged about during the French Revolution and this is the part still intact.
In 1349, on February 14th (Valentine’s Day) the Jewish population of Strasbourg was burned to death by their Christian neighbors. Estimates of the death toll range from a few hundred to several thousand--some of the Jewish population was ‘allowed' to convert to Christianity. There were many convoluted social and financial reasons for the city to eliminate the Jews and steal their property, but the cretinous belief that the Jews were spreading the plague (the Black Death) by poisoning wells, had a lot to do with it.