This Gothic monument evokes the gathering between king of France François I, emperor Charles the Fifth and pope Paul III in Nice.
Negotiations for peace were at a standstill between our two rivals, François and Charles. Who will be the master of Italy? Aah, but the situation dragged on...
So, the pope decided to be the intermediary between the two men. And city of Nice was chosen as a gathering place. Charles arrived first from Genoa, on May 9th 1538, with about 30 boats and 3 000 soldiers. He was hosted in Villefranche.
The pope arrived then on May 17th and was hosted in the convent of Sainte-Croix (near the actual marble cross) with lot of domestics and cardinals! On May 22th, the pope and Charles met near the castle of Nice: Charles was very upset, François was late! Aaah, come on, let’s wait a little...
This one finally turned up at the end of May: with him, queen Eleanor (Charles the Fifth’s sister) and their 3 children... and more than 7 000 soldiers! All these people moved in castle of Villeneuve-Loubet.
Historian Pierre Gioffredo described the huge crowd gathering for the occasion. Just imagine! There, lancers. Here, lords, as proud as peacocks! Oh, there, soldiers, halberdiers with shiny armours, on beautiful horses... Here! Do you see the king?
Wearing a blue velvet clothing decorated with golden embroideries, a hat with a blue feather proudly screwed to his head. His horse looked like his rider: caparisoned with blue velvet and feathers! A pretty noisily entry, isn’t it?
But wait, we were on June 18th 1538, the negotiations began... So, what about this famous peace of Nice? Well, when the gathering ended, they concluded to a 10 years truce, which foresaw: France kept his territories in Bresse and Bugey (lands near Lyon) and a part of Piedmont (Italy).
German empire would controll almost all Milan area and Savoie duchy. But this roguish of François I broke the truce 3 years later: with Turkish, in 1543, he besieged Nice...
The primitive wooden cross was raised at the place where pope arrived in Nice, when Saint-Dominique convent’s bells started to rang. But this cross was destroyed during the Revolution! As usual, yes, I know... The actual building dates back to 1810, given by countess de Villeneuve, born Ségur. It is composed of a dome flanked by 4 columns.
The Latin inscription echoes names of consuls who raised the cross in 1568: SIGNUM HOC CRUCIS DEDICARUNT NOB MELCHIO MALETUS MARIUS BALDOINUS MANUEL GERBONUS JACOBUS CUGIA COSS. E.N.D. NUS. HONORATUS GRIMALDIS RICHIERUS ASSENOR AN. 1568 DIE 4 MARTII E. F.
Which means "This cross was dedicated to the noble lords and consuls Melchio Malet, Marius Baudoin, Emmanuel Gerbon Cuggia; lord Honoré Grimaldi Richier, assessor; on March 4th 1568."