The SAINT TROPEZ you may not know. Story, Myth and much more.
In 599 B.C., the Phocaeans from Greece founded Massilia (present-day Marseille) and established other coastal mooring sites in the area. Pliny the Elder writes that the Athenopolis (the ancient name of Saint-Tropez) belonged to the Massilians. In 31 B.C., the Romans invaded the region. Their citizens built many opulent villas in the area, including one known as the "Villa des Platanes" (Villa of the Plane Trees). The first name given to the village which became Saint-Tropez was Heraclea-Caccaliera, and the mouth of its gulf was named the Issambres.
It begins with the macabre legend of Saint Torpes of Pisa. An early Christian martyr, Torpes was a Roman soldier or body guard in the service of the Emperor Nero; the myth however, is a little unclear and reliable historical sources are hard to find... After refusing to renounce his Christianity Caius Silvius Torpetius was decapitated and his severed head was thrown in the river Arno while his body was set adrift in a boat with a rooster and a dog.
The legend says that his body washed ashore in modern day Saint Tropez with the dog and bird, who had left him untouched.
Development through the ages
After the fall of the Roman Empire, like many of the coastal regions of the Mediterranean, St Tropez was attacked and sacked by pirates and privateers. This lasted for a century until the neighbouring village of Garde Frient was established and St Tropez and surrounding villages became an Arabic-Muslim colony for nearly 100 years until it was again attacked, this time by William I Count of Provence in 976.
There followed some 600 hundred years of French political manoeuvrings to secure the area as the right of one family or another but the town does have a few distinctions in its history before Bardot arrived in the 1950’s.
It is thought to be the site of the first contact between the Japanese and the French after Samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga was forced to stop here due to bad weather on his way to Rome in 1615.
On August 15 1944 it was one of the landing sites for the Allied assault on Southern France in Operation Dragoon.
But it was in the 1960’s that Saint Tropez acquired its current status and worldwide renown. The 1956 film “And God Created Woman” (Et Dieu….crea la Femme) launched both its star Bridgette Bardot and the town into the international spotlight. Bardot’s character’s sexuality and her sex kitten persona were tied to St Tropez and the town became the meeting place for the sexy, young tanned things of the sexual revolution.
Since then it has become so linked with tanned supermodels that there is a St Tropez sun cream promoted by Kate Moss and the likes of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Penelope Cruz and the Hiltons are regularly spotted in the harbour and on the beach
Story of the famous LA BRAVADE
Tradition For many years, pirates roamed the Mediterranean coasts. It became necessary to have a war chief and, in 1558, the Council of the Community decided to designate under the name of Captain of City, the chief of the local militia charged with recruiting and commanding the men necessary for the defense of the Cited. Since that date, every Easter Monday, the Municipal Council has elected a Town Captain. For more than a century, the Town Captains and their Tropezian militias ensured local defense and victoriously opposed the numerous attacks from both inside and outside. The powers which were recognized to them in the city of Saint-Tropez were confirmed by the letters patent of all the Kings of France until Louis XIV. During the latter's reign, the local militia gave way to a royal garrison installed at the Citadel. But by ceasing to use their weapons for the defense of their city, the Tropéziens preserved them to honor their Patron Saint. The Captain of the City continued to put himself at the head of the Bravade, the great patronal feast of May 17, and the inhabitants were only more zealous to take back, that day, the costume and the weapons they had hitherto worn . From the city of Saint-Tropez each year, its armed inhabitants put on their soldiers and sailors' uniforms and sound the blunderbuttons and rifles in honor of the Saint, as when they went to battle or when where, on such a feast day, they protected from possible attacks the procession going to the chapel of Saint-Tropez located outside the walls. This Bravado resulting from the liberties of Saint-Tropez, communion of a whole population whose distant or recent history is only heroism and fidelity has been perpetuated intact until today.
THE SAINT PATRON
The Patron Saint bustSaint Tropez was born in Pisa (Tuscany) into a patrician or even consular family. A brilliant officer, he was introduced to Nero as steward of his palace. Converted by Saint Paul, he remained a catechumen for a long time. A sacrilegious celebration organized in Pisa by Nero in honor of the goddess Diana gives him the opportunity to make a solemn profession of faith before the Emperor of Rome. Baffled, Nero insists that he retract. Tropez refuses. The Emperor gave him a choice until the next day, between sacrifice to the gods or death. Tropez goes to the old Saint Anthony to prepare for martyrdom and receive baptism. In the morning, after being baptized, he returned to Pisa. It was Satellicus who had been charged by the Emperor with the execution of the sentence. He is trying one last time to convince Tropez. When he refused, he first exposed him to the wild animals who lay at his feet. Angered, he flogged him. The column to which Tropez was attached detaches and kills Satellicus by overturning. The latter’s son wanted to avenge his father and had Tropez beheaded at the mouth of the Arno on April 29 of the year 68. Collected by the locals, the head of Saint Tropez is kept in Pisa in a chapel dedicated to it. But his body is put in a boat with a dog and a rooster, then abandoned to the currents of the sea at the mouth of the Arno. Pushed by the winds, the boat came to dock in the gulf of the city of Heraclea. A pious woman, Celerine, mysteriously warned of her arrival, ran up and collected carefully. A place of worship was built in honor of Saint Tropez and the transfer of his remains took place on May 17. Since then, this event is magnificently commemorated each year on the same date: it is the original and grandiose celebration of Bravades.