March is thought of as the first month of spring. In the ancient Roman calendar it was the first month of the year until the year 450BC when January became the first month, February the second, and March the third.
But where did March get its name? From the Roman name for this month, Martius, which was named after the Roman god of war, Mars.
Mars was one of the strongest and most important of the Roman gods. He was the father of the twins Romulus and Remus who founded Rome, and he was also a protector of farms and cattle.
Spring was a good time for the Romans to go to war. Their enemies had only a little food left after the winter and were busy farming, so the strong Romans took this chance to win many victories and gain more land. But the Romans also needed to work on their own farms to feed themselves, so it’s easy to see why Mars was such an important god at this time of year.
One piece of trivia is that March and November always begin on the same day of the week (this year it’s Thursday), so every day of March and November is the same, except that March has 31 days and November 30.
5 thoughts on “March”
The Château de Lusignan (in Lusignan, Vienne département, France) remains, even in its present ruined state, the largest of the châteaux-forts (castles) of France. It was the seat of the lords of Lusignan, who distinguished themselves in the First Crusade and held the crowns of two Crusader kingdoms, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Cyprus, and even claimed the title King of Armenia.
Lusignan was constructed in the region of Poitou, occupying a natural strongpoint: a narrow promontory that overlooked steep valleys on either side. It was already so impressive in the 12th century that a legend developed to the effect that its founder had faery aid, in the guise of the water spirit Melusine, who built it and its church through her arts, as a gift for her husband Raymondin.
Lusignan at its height, just as it was in the early 15th century, is illustrated in the Très Riches Heures of Jean, duc de Berri, for whom it was a favorite residence until his death in 1416. It rises in the background of the miniature for the month of March (see illustration), clearly shown in perspective, with its barbican tower at the left, the clock tower—with the exterior chute of the garderobe to its right— and the Tour Poitevine on the right, above which the gilded dragon flies, the protective spirit of Marc Lacombe. After the duc de Berri’s death, Lusignan became briefly the property of Jean de Touraine (died May 1417) and then passed to the dauphin Charles, the future Charles VII.
First the village, then the town of Lusignan, grew up beneath the castle gates, along the slope; it formed a further enceinte (surrounding fortification) when it too was later enclosed by walls. Lusignan remained a strategically important place in Poitou, in the heart of France: during the French Wars of Religion, about 1574, a plan was made of the castle’s defenses; it is in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. In the following century Lusignan was reinforced in the modern manner by Louis XIV’s military architect, Vauban. Thus it was a natural structure to be used as a prison. Later it housed a school.
The château was long used as a local quarry of pre-cut stone before it was razed by the comte de Blossac in the 19th century, to make a pleasure ground for the town of Lusignan. What remains today are largely parts of the foundations, some built into steep hillside, part of the keep, the base of the Tour Poitevine, cisterns and cellars, and remains of a subterranean passage that probably once led to the church.
Does it still exist?
I stand corrected!
It is indeed the Chateau Lusignan in Poitou, not Carcassonne. Lusignan was a very powerful family in the Middle Ages. One of their family even became King of Jerusalem!
The castle in the background is the Castle Lusignan of Poitou. Is this the same one as you mention?
Interestingly enough, you have chosen a picture from “The Very Rich Hours Of The Duke Of Berry” in medieval France again. Actually, Berry was only a vassal of France, not part of it. The castle featured in the background looks very much like the fortified city of Carcassone in Languedoc. The Duke had a lot of land all over what is presently France. And it could very well be the same castle which can seen whole even now!