Eagle’s Nest (Le Bo de Provence)
On a barren weathered rock ridge nine hundred meters long and two hundred and eighty meters high – the ruins of the castle. On the mountain, rising to the foot of the rock massif – a living city, ivy greens, tiled roofs, solar heat comes even from the limestone walls of the houses, the streets smell like lavender – and growing in the surrounding fields, and sold in every shop.
Already at the end of the X century, the owners of the castle of Le Bo in Provence – Les Baux-de-Provence, arrogantly looking down on arable land and pastures, controlled a fairly vast surrounding land. By the middle of the next century, they were already among the strongest feudal families in the south of France. Senor Le Bo owned 79 towns and villages.
The owners of Le Bo, in their pride, built their genealogy to none other than the sorcerer Baltazar, awakened by a Christmas star, and wore a sixteen-rayed silver star on a black emblem as a sign of their genealogical claims. Who could compare with the owner of Le Bo? Who could dictate terms to him? Who could dare to offer him an alliance? “Raso d’eigloun, jamai vassalo” – “The eagle clan does not know vassality,” was the answer to anyone from the height of the eagle’s nest, and hardly anyone could challenge it.
The owners of Le Bo did not have any loud title, but were so strong that for several centuries they boasted of strength and independence to the Count of Provence. The wind of war and blood, intrigue and betrayal blew from the top of Le Bo in feudal Europe. The same wind slowly sharpened a stone of impregnable rock …
Solomon, where is your throne? The breeze blew away.
Where is your anger, Babylon? The breeze blew away.
Those who have earthly passions throwing scatter
They die quietly – their wind blew.
Imperceptibly, the age of the blade was replaced in Provence by the age of the string. If the creature View of Le Bo de Provence was proud knights, there must have existed singers of their exploits.
The most famous troubadours of the south – including Rambaut de Vakeiras, Boniface of Castellansky and the incomparable Guy de Cavallon – found refuge and patronage under the high arches of the castle of Le Bo.
Once again, there was no one to challenge Le Bo’s primacy – this time as “court d’amur,” “court of love.” The castle became the center of the “singing south”. Here, the sweet-sounding language of troubadour poetry was forged, masterpieces that reached us were performed for the first time before favorable listeners, here beautiful ladies gave valiant knights with love, there were cunning debates about courtesy, here they crowned singers with crowns of peacock feathers and accounted for victories by kisses.
So many madmen now, my friend, have divorced!
They seek knowledge – and the devil leads them by the nose.
Seeking fame like me – but with garlands of roses
Spin songs that the wind blew.
This century quickly ended. Alix Le Bo was the last to bear this surname. After her death, the castle and the city were under the tutelage of the Count of Provence for a short time, belonged to the Turens, later merged into the royal estates, then was granted the France’s Connable – and survived a new heyday under his rule, however …
However, soon the connable Ann de Montmorency became the involuntary killer of the king at the tournament in Paris, and was forced to flee. “Not knowing vassality” stronghold again lost its owner.
Perhaps the impudent challenge thrown by the once old rulers of Le Bo in his pride, and predetermined his fate. For Le Bo, there was no “firm hand” for any long time. The castle became one of the strongholds of Protestantism in the south of France. And finally, in 1632, on the orders of Louis XIII, both the castle towers and the walls that grew around the city were destroyed.
The hillside town remained to live and keep its outlandish old customs. As before, from the sixteenth century, the “lantern of death” lights up on the church of St. Vincent – the so-called little light on the bell tower that burns all night when one of the famous citizens dies.
As before, also from the sixteenth century, on Christmas Eve in this church a naive and touching “mass of shepherds” is served. The church includes a procession of smart “angels and shepherdesses” who bring their gifts to the baby Christ. Around the altar, in a small cart, they bring a little white curly lamb, seated on a rug of red wool. The “Mass” – in fact, a small performance – takes place in songs, dialogues between shepherds and angels, and when the moment of the appearance of the Holy Spirit comes in the miracle, the lamb is imperceptibly pulled by the tail, and he announces with a triple bleating the manifestation of hope for the world.