The Great King Rene

It is impossible to go to Aix-en-Provence without hearing about the "Great King Rene," as the Provencals called the one who,yet, have never been a king. And yet, he has a strong record of titles! Duke of Bar, Duke of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Provence and, very temporarily, King of Naples, Sicily and Jerusalem, he was one of the most important lords of the French kingdom in the fifteenth century. He was also the friend of King Charles VII, his brother-in-law, with whom he participated in the Hundred Years War. During the last ten years of his life, the Great King Rene shared his time between Anjou and Provence, where his love of the arts worked wonders. Passionate about Italy and the artists of the Renaissance, he did indeed come to Aix-en-Provence painters of first importance, creating the first school of painting of Aix, with Nicolas Froment and Barthélémy d'Eyck in particular. You can admire the masterpiece of the latter, the triptych of "L'Annonciation", in the church of the Madeleine, while the "Buisson Ardent", signed by the first, is visible in the nave of the cathedral -Savior.

As a point of interest, the Great King Rene had wished that after his death his body should be repatriated to Angers, near that of his first wife, Isabelle de Lorraine. He wished, however, that his entrails should be preserved in Aix-en-Provence, in the Convent of the Great Carmelites. But the Aixois, very attached to their king, applied pressure to his second wife to remain with them. She had therefore to use cunning so as to respect these last wishes: she has hidden the body in a barrel and made it go back to Angers with discretion!

As a tribute to this great patron and guardian of the city, the Aixois commanded a statue of David of Angers (19th century), which was installed on the Avenue of Mirabeau.