Tour de Nesle

The Tower of Nesle was a major corner tower of the ramparts that encircled Paris and built in the early 13th century. The tower and its twin across the bank served to prohibit the night passing of boats into the city. A smaller but taller tower next to the main structure held a spiral staircase that led to the crenelated platform of the Nesle. A large lantern hung from a gallows to illuminate the river and surroundings. In the 14th century the tower was the setting for a royal scandal involving two Norman knights and two future queens of France. This Affair insured that The Tower survived in the imaginations of Parisians long after the physical tower had not. In the next two centuries, urbanization eventually lessened the observational significance of the structure and it became a place where fishermen housed their nets on the ground floor and laundresses occupied upper floors to spread their clothes on long poles planted in the holes of the old wall. In 1613, the Tower of Nesle was the launching place for fireworks intended to amuse the young King Louis XIII. Thirty years later, the tower, now obsolete, was demolished to make way for the College des Quatre-Nations, which later became the Institut de France and the Bibliotheque Mazarine.