Complainte du Siège de Vence

November 19, 2020

Small booklet about the Siege of Vence in 1592

Well, here’s another little gem I found recently. The full title is Complainte du Siège de Vence avec un abrégé de l’Histoire de Vence (Lament of the Siege of Vence with a Summary of the History of Vence). It’s a small 20 page booklet, measuring about 15cm by 12cm. Written by J. Boyer and first published in 1927, this copy is a “Nouvelle Édition” published in April 1933. The cover says that is “En l’Honneur des Grands Saints Véran et Lambert” (In honor of the great saints Véran and Lambert). Saint Véran and Saint Lambert are the two patron saints of Vence. Saint Véran served as Bishop of Vence from 451 to 481 and Saint Lambert from 1114-1154. It also says “Glorieux Défenseurs Protecteurs constants de la Cité” (Glorious defenders, constant protectors of the city). The price is 2 francs and it says that it is on sale in all the bookstores in Vence, or you can buy it directly from the author who lives at Place Thiers.

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[click on any image to see sample pages – more info after the samples]

During the Wars of Religion Vence was attacked by its own lord, who had converted to Protestanitism. He wanted to convert the city as well, but the inhabitants refused and a siege ensued. As the people were begining to lose hope a canon of the Cathedral, Canon Laure, had the busts of Saint Véran and Saint Lambert placed on the tower of the Cathedral. This brought hope back to the people of the village and they gathered to fight. Seeing their determination the Protestant troops lifted the siege and the Lord of Vence abandoned his plans to remake the village into a Protestant stronghold.

I found this at “Chine & Bouquine,” a wonderful little bookshop here in Vence. If you have a chance, stop by and visit them (4, rue saint Véran, near the Porte d’Orient).

I’ve translated the entire booklet (with the help of Google Translate) if you would like to read it. It’s a bit wonky in places (Google Translate can only do so much and I hesitate to try and “correct” it too much since I am not an expert) but it is still quite readable and easy to understand.


Lament of the Siege of Vence (Juin 1592) with a Summary of the History of Vence

by J. Boyer, of the Ligurian Maintenance

In Honnor of the Grand Saints Véran and Lambert

Glorious Defenders, Constant Protectors of the City

Price: 2 Francs

On sale at all Vence bookstores and at the home of the author: Place Thiers, Vence

Page 1

City of Vence

On the Feast of Saint-Lambert
Vence, May 27th, 1927

New Edition
April 1933

Rights Reserved

Page 2

Lament of the Siege of Vence (1)

Provençal Air: Fàu ana in Betelen (written an old Provençal language)



Come to the People of Vence,
Famous in history,
From the greatest of your exploits
To sing the memory.
– Let us repeat our most beautiful songs, –
The happiest, the most touching,
To our Saints Vençois, always triumphant:
Saint Véran, Saint Lambert who of Vence.
There remains the defense!

Chorus in Provençal

Din la joy’e estrambor,
Canten touti a plen cuor
Noste San Vencenc, toujou bouan e fuor:
San Veran, San Lamber: lei sauvaire
De noste terraire!

(I) The last five lines of the 1st verse can be used as a chorus if needed.

Page 3


The Protector Saints of Vence

Our good Saints, in all times,
Have guarded the city
From saddest evils
And vile hordes.
But, oh astonishing miracle!
In a surprising siege of
The God of Combats, the two lieutenants,
Saint Véran, Saint Lambert are from Vence,
the only defense!


The Siege of 1592

Listen to the beautiful story
Of this feat;
Then to the Saints, shout: Thank you!
Filled with joy.
It was in those dreadful times
When our valiant fathers
Defending their faith, with a generous heart:
Exhausted, in days full of shadow,
Bending under the number!

Page 4


Horror and Felony

For more than forty years,
They fought without ceasing,
For leaguers and Protestants,
In turn press them …
All their fields are ravaged,
Many valiant are slaughtered,
And our baron having rebelled,
In his fief, the felon, goes to war,
For Lesdiguières.


The Great Pity

Ah! weep for pity,
From the land of Vence.
The fierce, haughty enemy.
From everywhere, rushes forward.
And the women, the children, And the panting old men,
Look trembling, towards the rickety walls,
Their unhappy soldiers who fall,
Heroes who succumb! …

Page 5


The priest Laure, messenger of the Saints

But suddenly, amidst the horror,
A shouting voice,
Ringed in all hearts,
Warms souls.
Hear the beautiful sermon,
Which rises to the mountains,
Chases terror, straightens foreheads.
Listen, it is the voice of the great Laure,
Who sings the dawn!


The Beautiful Sermon

“Sorrowful brothers, all behold.
“The big news,
“Tonight, you will be free,
“And Vence the beautiful!
“Let us carry our Saints on the tower:
“They will fight in their turn!
“Soldiers, on the ramparts, under the Signadour!
“Let us fight and pray: I attest,
“God will do the rest! … “

Page 6


The Baron’s Impiety

However, our Baron,
Swollen of insolence,
Threatens our patron saints
With his spearhead:
“Hey! the miter does not suit you well:
“A proud helmet is less common!
“Saints, you will fall from this pedestal! ..
“At the steeple, aim straight, O my brave men:
“Hit whoever braves you!”


The Infernal Attack

And here is that from the plateau
Gushes the grape-shot:
It looks like a thousand hammers
Striking our walls
On the cries and the curses
Of the Huguenots, true demons,
Plane of the tocsin, the dismal sound …
And the iron, and the fire are in rage:
Ah! the awful carnage! …

Page 7


The Rude Defense of the Saints

Our Vençois on their ramparts,
Redoubling daring,
Responding from all sides:
Ah! the proud race! …
Suddenly against the vultures
The Saints in their turn give …
Bullets and cannonballs, in a prompt return
O miracle! “Rebelling our walls” (1)
Chop the rabble! …


The Saints Triumph

We counted well five hundred:
Very authentic fact,
On the square, slain, recumbent,
Say our chronicles.
The others, terrified,
Fled on all sides:
The Saints had kept the City well,
They had won the victory:
All glory to them!

(1) This is the expression of William the White to say that the grape shot launched by the Protestants was coming back on them. Many of these projectiles, all flattened, were placed on the altars of the Saints and remained there for a very long time.

Page 8


The Recognition of our Fathers

And our ancestors, every year.
Came to the plain (1)
Sing to their beneficent Saints,
Their Great Captains! …
We, the happy heirs
Of such a wonderful past,
Blessed by our Saints, as generous sons,
We will do, like our fathers
Vence more prosperous!


The Great Duties of the Sons

At the return of each summer,
All in great procession,
We will come here to sing
The Mass of the Seat.
Good Vençois and good Christians,
Let us remain winking of the old ones.
From our city, let us be the supporters;
And let us cry, forever: Long live Vence!
And long live France! …

(1) The St-Michel plateau where our baron and Lesdiguières camped.

Page 9


I. O Mario! La Patrio!

Air: Coupo Santo.

Nosto Damo d’Espéranço,
A ti ped sian à geinoun,
E per lou salut de Venço
Venèn invouca toun noum !


Q Mario!
La Patrio,
From your arm the assistaras
and the counsoularas.

Nosto Damo de Refuge,
The inferno grieves us:
Autant-leu lou veiren fuge,
Se ta grâci smiles at us.

Nosto Damo dle Vitôri,
Nous abandounes jamai;
Sousto nous, Tourre d’Evôri,
Vuei, deman et longo-mai!

Nosto Damo di Miracle,
Mete in big and small steps,
E Diéu ti fague l’ouracle
Di tèms urous que vendran !

Nosto Damo de la Gràci,
Keep us from mancamen!
E pourqu’en, piei, faci à faci,
Veire: Diéu eternamen !

Page 10

II. Sian Vençenc e Catouli!

(Air connu.)

Sian Vençenc e Catouli!
Nosto fé, nosto fé has not fali,
Canten touti trefouli:
Sian Vençenc e Catouli!

Nosto Venço te supplico
Dins soun viei e dous spoke.
Nosto Venço es catoulico
Nosto Damo escouto la!

Li felen, coumo li reire,
Te seran toujour fdèu;
Creiren tout ço que es de creire
E viéuren coumo se dèu.

Nosti fi eu, o bono Mayor,
Gardo-li di fau savèn;
Mantèn-li la fé di pair,
Car s’aubouro un ami vèn.

Se dôu north the frozen auro
Su si champ vèn mai boufa,
S’armaran per la crousado
Towards the autar that you avèn fa.

Mai esvarto tron ​​e guerro
Luen di pair, luen di fi éu,
E flourigue nosto terro
Dins la douço pas de Giéu.

Sousto adounc, o Ciéutadello,
Touti li generacioun;
Piei acampo, o Rèino Bello,
All your pople dins Sioun.

Page 11

on the Great Epochs of

The History of Vence

PREHISTORY. – The history of Vence is a magnificent epic which dates back to the most distant ages. Long before the existence of Rome, the Némésiens, our first ancestors, small but valiant Celto-Ligurian tribe, were installed between the Var, the Estéron, Le Loup and the sea. Several centuries before Jesus Christ, they fought fiercely for their independence against the Italian peoples, against the Marseillais, then against the Romans, their most terrible enemies. Often overwhelmed by numbers, their submission was only apparent and many times, by their sudden uprisings, they inflicted hard lessons on the Roman legions.

Page 12

ROMAN CONQUEST. – Towards the year, 150 BC, Caius Sextius having completed the conquest of the Province, Roman, and later, Caesar having seized all of Gaul (50 BC). The Némésiens, then called Décéates, then Vintiens, followed the fortune of Provence. But our people in the mountainous region fought for their freedom until the reign of Nero.

Rome had the ability to win our Fathers by benevolence, Vintium had the title of City and had a senate, a famous temple dedicated to Mars, a forum, an aqueduct. She quickly distinguished herself by her keen taste for civilization, religion and Roman letters. Also, charmed by the mildness of its climate, the beauty of its location, many noble patricians, beautiful Romans, and even empresses, came to reside within its walls. From this brilliant period, we have twenty splendid engraved stones, columns, statuettes, tombs, etc …

CHRISTIAN VENCE. – In the 3rd century, it was almost entirely converted to Christianity, and in the 4th century, it has a bishopric; the temple of Mars became his first church. From the 6th to the 11th century, Vence suffered the dreadful invasions of the Visigoths, Lombards, Saxons and finally that of the Saracens, the longest. The great bishop Deuthère rebuilt the city and the church ruined by the Saxons (574). This church must have been splendid, judging by the twelve beautiful Merovingian stones that we have. Destroyed in turn by the Saracens, it was replaced in the 11th century by the current Cathedral.

MIDDLE AGES. – Until the Revolution, the City lived under the fairly gentle domination of the barons of Villeneuve and

Page 13

his Bishops who were coseigneurs of Vence. Thanks to the skill and dedication of its Consuls and the special protection of the kings of Provence, and from 148l, the kings of France, the Commune obtained numerous freedoms, many of which no longer exist today. So, it clears its countryside, plants its forests of olive trees, builds its church, its Bishopric, its Templar monastery, its fortified enclosure, its three castles, its chapels of Saint-Crépin and Saint-Elisabeth, its Town Hall, its flourishing schools, its Saint-Julien Hospital; its Saints and its climate preserve it from the plague which ravaged Nice and Grasse many times, annihilated Gaude. It acquired a great development, much more considerable than that of today (l2,000 inhabitants against 4,000,) to which also contributed the good administration of its Consuls, the benevolence of its Bishops and most of its lords: two of its the latter left a famous name in history: Romée de Villeneuve le Grand, first baron of Vence, and François II de Villeneuve.

MODERN ERA. – In the 16th century, letters and the arts are with us, in full rebirth; our celebrities are numerous, particularly in painting (Canavési family). From l525 to l535, Vence suffered the repercussions of the double invasion of Provence by the traitor Bourbon and Charles Quint. One of his noblest sons, Raphaël de Cormis, died heroically defending the city. Then came the sinister wars of religion. Until the revolution, peace was hardly disturbed except during the war of the Austrian succession. But the energy and generosity of Bishop Surian saved the city.

CONTEMPORARY TIMES. – The revolution drove

Page 14

our last lord and our last bishop, Mgr Pisani. She suppressed our bishopric. It was the beginning of a long decline. However, in recent years, we have witnessed a splendid revival: Vence, embellished by its sons, delights foreigners who come in increasing numbers to taste the mild climate, the freshness of its waters and the benefits of its enchanting nature. Vence gave birth to Antony Mars, the brilliant author of “Divorce Surprises”, “28 Days of Clairette”, “Housing Ticket”, etc …

CONCLUSION. – Vence rightly prides itself on its precious antiques, its centuries-old monuments, its location and its wonderful climate; but its purest glory comes to it from its Bishops, true “defensor civitatis”. Among the 72 prelates (including Pope Paul III, the academicians Godeau and Surian), who have given such a fine reputation to its seat by their piety, their knowledge and their kindness. Saint-Véran (446-492) and Saint-Lambert (1114-1154), are illustrious and revered among all. This worship of trusting and pious gratitude, they deserve it in an eminent way, because not only during their long episcopate, they edified our Fathers by the splendor of their virtues and their miracles and filled them with benefits, but, even after their death , they remained, in all circumstances, the comforters of the afflicted and the protectors of the City. This Lament, whose inspiration was taken from our old archives and mainly from a letter from Bishop Guillaume le Blanc to Scipion de Villeneuve, Baron de Vence, to make him abandon heresy, is an extraordinary episode, but authentic, chosen among a thousand, of the constant and miraculous protection with which the two Patron Saints of Vence have always surrounded their good and faithful City.

Page 15

PARZY printing

30, r. Lepanto, Nice

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