history of the village of Mirabel aux Baronnies
genealogy of the DRAGONETS
- the 3 defensive walls
- the church of St Victor
and St Julien
- the chapel of Beaulieu
- the chapel of the Calvary
- the chapel of Saint Roch
- history of the village
"The future is a
mystery, the past is history, and the present a gift"
of the village of Mirabel aux Baronnies
oldest signs of existence of the village come from the Neolithic
period, i.e. 10,000 years BC. There was already a fortress in
1023 with the name of « Castrum Miribello ».In 1059, the village
was named « Mirabello Castellum » and was part of the barony of
the Dragonet of Montauban up to the 12th century, before
becoming a dependency of the Dauphine in 1349.
had 3 defensive walls, the remains of which can be seen on 2
sides of the village. One to east, on the Chemin des Barrys and
the other to the north show clearly the austere warlike style of
most prosperous period, from 1334-1426 florins were minted here.
13th century onwards the Dauphin Chapel, Church of St Julien and
the hospital were built. The village suffered 2 Plague epidemics
in 1348 and 1629. It was sacked in 1562 during the Wars of
Religion. The walls were partly knocked down along with the
castle in 1635 on the orders of Cardinal Richelieu.
village was very active in the olive and woollen cloth business
and had about 1900 inhabitants in 1775.
Genealogy of the DRAGONETS
Coat of arms
« Burelé d’argent et de gueules de 10
PETRUS PONCIUS de MONDRAGO
of the dragon dates from the 4th century and gives its
name to the village
DRAGONET DE MONDRAGON
( + avant 1163)
Dragonet of Mondragon mentioned for the first time in
DRAGONET LE VIEUX de MONDRAGON
(1160 – 1189)
Lord of Mondragon
DRAGONET II LE PREUX
( 1180 - 1236)
marié vers 1181 à Gasca de Montauban,
dame de Montauban, fille de Raymond II de Mévouillon
Lord of Mondragon, Montauban and
First magistrate of Arles. Was with the Count of
Toulouse during the Albigensian Crusade.
RAYMOND II de MONDRAGON
« de MONTAUBAN »
marié en 1218 à Randonne de Montclus
In 1214 he
owned property in Vaison, Montbrison, Grillon, Roussieux,
Cairanne, and Le Pegue.
DRAGONET III de MONDRAGON
(+ 1278 à Mirabel)
marié le 2.10.1231 à Almuse de Mévouillon
Baron of Montauban, lord of Mondragon,
took part in the conquest of Venaissin for the house of
RANDONNE de MONDRAGON
(+ vers 1295)
mariée en 1260 à Raymond Gaucelin de
of Dragonet III of Montauban, Baron of Montauban. She
established the capital of the Baronnies at Nyons.
RONCELIN de LUNEL
(1284 – 1295)
Marié à Béatrix de Genève
Lunel, Baron of Montauban, seneschal of Venaissin in
1238. Part of the 7th Crusade. Received the Barony from
his mother Randonne in 1284. Ruined, he bequeathed it to
his uncle Adhemar of Monteil who gave up his rights to
the Dauphin in 1302
3 defensive walls
The location of the
castle of the Dragonets is difficult to pinpoint because it was
destroyed under Richelieu, so only a small part of the keep
remains. The tower of Mirabelle castle can be seen on the side
of Chemin des Barrys with the Sarasin Tower to the east, which
gives one an idea of the fortifications.
The church of
St Victor and St Julien
The parish church has a
Romanesque choir, part of the old Dauphin chapel, and was
restored with the whole church in the 19th century. Its origins
are probably from the era of the Dragonet of Montauban in the
beginning of the 13th century when Mirabel was the capital of
the Barony. All that is left of the castle is a part of the
tower on the north corner of the church square. The apse in ‘cul
de four’ is Roman Provencal style with 2 windows. The stone
vault which extends along it gives the present choir a southern
Gothic style, supported by four Gothic arches, the crosspiece is
decorated with a Lamb of God from the 19th century. On the
support of the left arch is a Renaissance grotesque representing
a crouching man, sitting on his right leg, holding his knee and
looking at the altar. Different works took place around 1520,
1615 and 1776.
Around 1840 the church took
on its present aspect with financial help from Louis XVIII,
Count of Provence: extension of the nave, the completion of the
galleries and stalls and a new church tower.
The last restoration in
1972 is thanks to Father Victor Morel, curate, who stripped away
the plaster to reveal the beautiful stone bonding and the
craftsmen’s (Compagnons du Devoir’s) signatures. The bell in the
bell tower was first powered by electricity in 1992.
in front of the porch is a beautiful mission cross made in
wrought ironwork from 1756.
There are several examples
in the village of such crosses, on the roads where one waited
for the funeral processions coming from the countryside to go to
the church and then to the cemetery.
The Chapel of Beaulieu
The Chapel of Beaulieu:
This was a hermitage in the 5th Century and then fief of the
Templars and finally the Knights of Malta until the Revolution.
Dragonet II, lord of Mirabel, was buried here 1276 by his
daughter Randonne, near the remains of his wife and parents. It
has been communal property since 2009, and an annual pilgrimage
takes place every Easter Monday.
From the summit, walkers
can contemplate a broad landscape of hills and valleys that gave
the name to the site (Beaulieu = beautiful place). The chapel of
Beaulieu is a small building, unfortunately disfigured during
its reconstruction in 1841. It was the oratory of the Dragonet
de Montauban. They gathered here while staying on their estates
of Mirabel. The existence of a chapel at Beaulieu is already
attested in 1059 by a charter from the abbey of Saint Victor de
Marseille. This is a very old place of worship.
The chapel was rebuilt
and decorated by the Montaubans, who transferred it in 1237 to
the Knights Templar. After 1308, this Knights Templar property
belonged to the Knights Hospitallers, who later became the
Knights of Malta. The Beaulieu Chapel was similar to many rural
buildings built on the seigniorial estates for a relatively
small community. As elsewhere, there was the apse in ‘cul de
four’ with a vaulted nave. It houses the tombstone of the
Dragonet family of Montauban, some of whose bones were found in
1969, under the paving of the present entrance, at the original
site of the altar.
The tombstone of the
Dragonet bears two crown sculptures in the round, on either side
of the cross given to the Knights Templar by Pope Eugene III in
1146. The one on the right is adorned with the Templar cross
carved in the traditional circle, the one on the left represents
the coat of arms of the Dragonets, difficult to identify, but
which could be the emblematic representation of the Rhone dragon
whose name was taken by the Dragonet family. It is under this
stone that Dragonet II is buried.
For a long time,
Notre-Dame de Beaulieu was the main site for local pilgrimage.
The faithful went to pray at the tomb of Dragonet as they would
to that of a saint. The collective memory also has been rather
embellished: it had erased the violent and quarrelsome character
of the baron, and transformed his attachment to Beaulieu into
one of goodness and charity. It is open for worship on Easter
Le chemin de la peste
to open the document describing the Line of Health. And
here to read the translation.
of the Calvaire
This little building,
built on a small platform of rock, dominates a wide landscape:
the valley of the Eygues, the mountain of Garde-Grosse, the
gorge of the Rieussec, the valley of the Voconces and Mont
Ventoux. From a distance, it stands out like a white beacon on a
coloured background. Its construction dates back to the 14th
century, to the time of the Dauphins. The roof has retained its
original roofing stones. Below the cave of the recumbent, there
was a Christ in fig tree wood which was replaced in 1940 by a
concrete figure which was then badly mutilated by vandals. On
the crest of the hill, a drystone stele shows the model of what
were once the "Stations of the Cross", of which some remains can
still be seen in the scrubland, going down towards the village.
of Saint Roch
St Roch (c. 1340-1378)
according to legend, passed through Mirabel on his way to Italy.
There he looked after lepers for several years. Struck down by
the illness himself, he hid in the forest and his dog brought
him food every day. After being saved by the local lord, he
returned to France in 1375. The Plague in France in 1629 carried
away about 100 victims in Mirabel, so the authorities and
villagers decided to build a chapel in his honour if the
epidemic stopped. It was built in 1630 and consecrated in 1632.
After his death he was venerated and became the most popular
saint in the countryside, as proved in this extract from a hymn:
‘Saint Roch! Oh our great father, by your arm we come to beg for
help. Keep us from the Plague, hear our prayer and sustain your
children always.’ St Roch can be recognised by his pilgrim’s
staff and accompanied by his dog, and showing a wound on his leg
(a Plague bubo). Always shown with his faithful companion, St
Roch became known familiarly as St Roquet (St Runt) which is
where we get the name ‘runt’ from for a dog.
The Tune, the fontains and
In 1870, the
municipality decided to install the first water system network.
By harnessing the Tune, a tributary of the Rieussec 1200m from
the village, and taking it through a gallery of 433m dug through
sandstone, the water crossed the Gaude by way of a siphon and
even now still feeds the 3 washhouses and the 5 public drinking
fountains. The work was finished in 1876, the people of Mirabel
then having access to water at these different points, replacing
the needs for wells. The washhouses were still largely being
used up until the 60’s.
The 13th century fountain
The fountain behind the
castle of the Gouvernet was built around 1600 and was destroyed
by fire in 1745. Inspired by the Comtat region, the top is
moulded in the form of a pine cone. The water flows from 4
female gargoyle heads, which is exceptional in Provence. It is
classed as a Historical Monument. The Place d’Armes was, along
with Rue General de Gaulle, the centre of the village with 2
grocers, a baker, a mattress maker, a locksmith, a tailor, a
cobber, a blacksmith, a general store, 2 cafes and a hotel. A
grocer’s shop was the last business to close around the middle
of the 1970’s.
The history of the village
The area of Piégon has
been occupied since the Neolithic period (7000 BC - 2500 BC),
which was confirmed by the discovery of a flint cutting workshop
unearthed in 1980. In 1178, the Baron de Montauban, lord of
Mirabel, gave a part of the area called le Puy, located opposite
Mirabel, to a man named Gigone, in order to ensure he would be a
faithful vassal in case of conflict. Because of that we get the
name of the village of Piégon: PuyGigon.
In the sixteenth century,
farms were built outside the village, and still constitute the
bulk of the buildings. Its population reached 511 inhabitants in
1870, which regularly declined until there were only 262 people
in 2012. Built on a mound of clay, the old village was gradually
abandoned between 1880 and 1930, the buildings cracking and
collapsing little by little. Only a few sections of the castle
walls remain, and the bell tower, which still tolls the hours!
The church of Our Lady of Cadenet
The choir of
this very ancient church dates from the 11th century, a time of
religious renewal. It is one of the finest examples of rural
Romanesque churches, and deserves a special visit. There is a
legend that tells us that some farmer’s cows were said to have
knelt down in the midst of the ‘cade’ (juniper) which would have
been in the cemetery, because the Virgin was in the branches.
Thus the chapel was built on the site near this tree. The priors
of the Chapter of Vaison enlarged it little by little to give it
its present forms. In the nave, some pilasters bear grooves
forming geometric designs. It is the only kind of decoration in
an otherwise plain interior, which is still somehow moving in
its simplicity. Outside, on the south side, there are decorative
sculpted corbels which used to support the roof.
The old village situated
on a hillock had no water, so the washhouse was built to provide
water for the inhabitants to drink and wash clothes. The steps
taken before the washhouse could be built (buying the land,
building permission etc.) occurred between 1871 and 1873.
Financing the building and carrying out the work took place
between 1873 and 1875. Building materials from the era which
were found on site allowed the washhouse to be identically
replicated during its restoration. Notice particularly the
original archway made of reinforced concrete.
This very beautiful
cross cast in the late 19th century, was probably installed
there to replace another religious emblem, perhaps a statue. The
decoration is inspired by the devotion to the Sacred Heart,
honored by Pope Pius IX in 1856. Many biblical symbols are
represented here: - At the foot of the cross: the four
evangelists: John (the eagle), Mark (the lion), Luke (the bull)
and Matthew (the angel).
- Above the Decalogue or
Tables of the Law are the numbers from I to X corresponding to
the 10 Commandments. - In the centre, the Passion with the
Sacred Heart, the crown of thorns and the sword symbolizing
suffering. -In the upper part is a vase which, according to the
Holy Scripture, characterizes all that was enclosed in the
Tabernacle, either as an ornament or used in worship.
-On the sides, the M
represents Mary accompanying her Son.
- At the very top appear
the cherubim and the seraphim, messengers between God and Man.
The beautiful grapepicker
The widening of the main
road through the village ruined the hill of sandstone so M.
Jean-Pierre Eichenberger who was president of The Arts Centre in
Piegon submitted plans for a sculpture to the municipality,
which was led by Mayor Georges Serre. The sculpture was designed
to represent the wine growing activities of the village. The
work by Yann-Eric Eichenberger, Emmanuel Blanc and Lucien Marin
took 5000 hours over a period of 18 months to sculpt. It is 30
metres x 6 metres and was inaugurated on July 6th 1997. The
monument was completed when a holy pendant was added dedicated
to ‘The Madonna of the Grape’.
The town hall frescos
Jean Lhuer, a resistance
fighter from the Drome who was sought by the Gestapo, was hidden
in Piegon by the Oudot family. As he was a painter he gave these
frescos praising the work of the Resistance to the Commune of
Piegon in 1945, with these words: "The writer and journalist
Joseph Kessel also known as" Jeff, "was the author of a vividly
true book on the Resistance:" THE ARMY OF THE SHADOWS ". Having
known him in the Drôme at the Liberation, I took the liberty of
retaking his title, here, to try to represent those who,
silently, like cats on the lookout, like night birds with
discreet and efficient flight, transformed themselves into
silent shadows, unrecognizable, in the darkness. Their bold
actions, to find freedom. A Resistance fighter was: - for many:
nonexistent or ignored, - for collaborators: a thug in a cap, -
for the occupant: a "TERRORIST" who put one’s nerves on edge. Of
course, since he sought to be confused with the trees and with
the stones, and had anxious encounters with death he could
change places with the parasitic Colorado beetle". Jean LHUER