Raised by monks from Saint-Victor of Marseille, we have, from the 11th century, two different places in the abbey: the church Ste-Perpétue for monks and the church of Sainte-Marie for the young noble ladies from Provence.
Hey, since we’re talking about ladies… here’s the most famous woman who lived in La Celle, between 1225 and 1242: the trobairitz (feminine of troubadour) Garsende de Sabran! Back in the 13th century.
Garsende, Ildefonse II of Aragon’s widow, queen of Provence and count Raymond-Bérenger’s mum, retired in the abbey. So beautiful, so witty and cultured, but absolutely disgusted by the society life she had in her court, in Aix-en-Provence…
In the past, we could see her grave in the church, her recumbent figure surrounded by little popes praying for her. We could read: ″Here lies a queen. She’s happy, but she scorned everyone to rest in peace.″
Rest, my foot! Her grave was used as a drinking trough by a local farmer. After, a private particular owned it and the conseil Général du Var bought it in 1999: today, the grave is back in La Celle!
What about Garsende de Sabran? Granddaughter of the powerful count de Forcalquier, daughter of the lord of Ansouis, she was 12 when she became the heiress of the county of Forcalquier and married the king of Aragon Alphonse, future count of Provence.
A very heavy burden for such a young girl like her! She had a son, the famous Raymond-Bérenger (do you remember his statue in the church of St-Jean-de-Malte in Aix-en-Provence?), She also had lots of exhausting events in her life: that was why she withdrew in La Celle...
Two troubadours quoted her in their poems: Gui de Cavaillon and Elias de Barjols. They were in love with her, well, well, well! And we have this poem dedicated to Gui, wrote by Garsende:
« Vous me paraissez un amant sincère : alors, pourquoi tant hésiter ? Mais cela me plaît que mon amour vous torture, car me voilà tout aussi torturée à cause de vous. Votre lâcheté vous blesse, car vous n’avez pas le courage de m’implorer. A cause de cela vous faites du mal à vous et à moi, car une dame n’osera jamais découvrir tout ce que désire son amoureux, par peur de faillir. »
A lady who drew her inspiration in poems wrote by male troubadours: she said she suffered, but waited her lover begged her and made the first move even so!