Sauvan and Cornélie de Galéan: we must save queen Marie-Antoinette

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The castle - ©Marianne Casamance / CC-BY-SA The castle - ©Marianne Casamance / CC-BY-SA
Sauvan castle Castle Marie-Antoinette

Provence’s little Trianon

The Forbin: Scottish at the controls

The current castle of Sauvan, in Mane, was created in 1719 by architect Jean-Baptiste Franque, for a local chap: François de Forbin, royal armies’ corporal. This guy just retired. Hey, do you remember the Forbin family? We met them in La Barben castle.

Scottish lords, originally, who moved in Provence in the Middle Ages. Palamède, governor of Provence for Louis XI, was the most famous member. But we also have Claude de Forbin, marine officer in the reign of Louis XIV; and Auguste de Forbin, the painter in love with Napoléon’s sister, who had a bit of nooky with her in La Barben...

Sauvan, Forbin’s Trianon

So, François de Forbin wanted to enjoy his well-deserved retirement under the sun of Provence: laziness and cicadas! So, he raised a nice little castle. Hey, but Sauvan just looks like Versailles’ Petit Trianon, isn’t it? Sure, Forbin himself called Sauvan like this in his letters… Vast and clear, the light enters everywhere by 50 big windows.

Cornélie, the queen’s friend

But soon, the building work stopped because of Marseille’s big plague in 1720. The site ended in 1729, and Forbin died in 1731. The work definitively stopped, that’s why some part of the decoration is missing, on the façades and inside…

So, in 1731, the castle of Sauvan fell to François’ nephew, Michel-Palamède de Forbin, who married Cornélie-Gabrielle-Henriette de Galéan, in 1782. So what? Well, let’s meet Cornélie… queen Marie-Antoinette’s devoted friend!

Marie-Antoinette has to be saved!

Cornélie made plans

Cornélie was Charles-Antoine de Galéan’s daughter, a Roman prince. She was born in 1763. Well, imagine that our Cornélie, who became marquise de Forbin and chatelaine of Sauvan, was as like as two peas with Marie-Antoinette! The queen of France, really? Yes!

While this one was locked in the sinister jail of La Conciergerie (Paris), Cornélie cogitated. The monarchy was dying, someone had to do something. So she made a plan: to get the queen’s place in the jail, so this one could run away abroad...

Escaping from the Conciergerie?

We heard about this story in the book Souvenirs de la marquise de Créquy: Cornélie was ″an incomparable person for dedication and courage.″ Yeah, she’ll need courage! People knew what Cornélie wanted to do, thanks to the wife of the Conciergerie’s janitor. Cornélie first took 700 000 livres on her own fortune, then she asked the rest of the sum to her relatives.

It was to save the queen of France, so people gave, of course… Once she had the money, she had to put the janitor in the picture and pay two jail’s inspectors, to let her in inside the Conciergerie under a false pretext: then, Cornélie could change her clothes with Antoinette and this one could run away...

No sacrifice...

But Marie-Antoinette wasn’t agree with Cornélié’s plan. She send a letter to her friend, with words pierced with a needle on the paper. She said to renounce to this madness, because, anyway, she was condemned: ″I can’t and I don’t want to accept your sacrifice. Adieu. Adieu.″ And in October 16th 1793, Marie-Antoinette was executed...


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