A bit of history…         


Up until the 13th century, the Rhone river (called "Saint Féréol", then "Ulmet") flowed a few hundred meters from this thirteenth century Mas. Traces of Celto-Ligurian huts and foundations of Gallo-Roman villas reflect the presence of man since ancient times. (The area of the mas corresponds to an area used army veterans of the Roman legions for a century).

The first written record of Mas Antonelle dates back to 1342, when it carried the name of Mas Urbane in 1430, Valeriola Saint-Sauveur in 1500, and finally Mas Antonelle in the 1570s. This name comes from the family of Antonelle, one of its most illustrious members of which was, "the Marquis Pierre François d'Antonelle" : Jacobin first mayor of Arles during the French Revolution, President of the jurors of the Revolutionary Court that ruled against Queen Marie Antoinette of Austria and, above all, architect of the attachment of Comtat Venaissin to France.


Antonelle (Pierre-Antoine, Marquis D ) political economist, born in Arles in 1747 and died in 1817, at the end of a military career. When the Revolution broke out, he warmly adopted its principles which he exhibited during his Catechism of the Third Estate. He was then instructed by the executive to go to Avignon and Marseille to calm the emotions of the disputing parties in "la réunion du Comtat". Sent to the Legislature by the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, he subsequently accepted the dreaded jury duty of the revolutionary tribunal, participated in the trial of Marie-Antoinette and the Girondins, and contributed to the condemnation of these illustrious victims. Nevertheless, he was arrested by order of the "committee of public salvation", and held in Luxembourg at 9 Thermidor. Later, he was accused of being involved in the "conspiracy of Babeuf", he appeared before the High Court of Vendôme, but was acquitted. He was then called to the Council of Five Hundred in 1797 and 1799, and reached the proscription of 3 Nivose. He was obliged to leave France, but returned in 1814. Antonelle is the author of many writings and pamphlets. It was his articles in the Journal des Hommes Libres which provoked his arrest in the case of Babeuf. (Grand Pierre Larousse dictionary universal)

« Antonelle (Pierre Antoine Marquis D ') officer, journalist and French politician (Arles, 1747 - 1817) president of the jury for the trial of Marie Antoinette, the Girondins. »

1747 – 1817 born and died in Arles (1752: death of father, 1782: resignation of the army and completion of the Catechism of the Third Estate, 1790: elected the first mayor of Arles, 1792: elected deputy, 1794: sworn into Revolutionary Court, 1795: Senior Editor of the Journal of Freemen, 1796: took part in the conspiracy of the Equals, 1804: final return to Arles.

« I invite the placement of honor next to duty and utility to make all citizens nobles, and all the nobles citizens. » Pierre Antoine d'Antonelle  

 The above shows how the first mayor of Arles has been described by some accounts, while many others do not even mention Antonelle, as the men of Arles are rarely on the list of our past glories. Nonetheless, a small plaza on the outskirts of "La Roquette" in Arles bears his name. But, despite the plate sealed in 1989 on the walls of the family mansion, the bicentennial marker did not rescue Arles' first mayor from oblivion.

 His character : was less sulfurous than Sadé, and he was less of an orator than Mirabeau; two of his Provencal contemporaries. Yet, he counts among those who spent time in the bloody excesses of the French Revolution, and afterword devoted himself to the new regime.

Less media-friendly than Mirabeau's "will of the people" and "bayonets", Arles' contribution to the durable establishment of the Republic is the bit that interest us. Antonelle is one of those who laid the foundations of the representative democracy which underpins our political life, so why has he been forgotten? Why is there such indignity paid to the actor of the French Revolution? During a recent presentation in Arles, the historian Pierre Serna explains that the response to these questions is complex and lies in the events of 1789.

A destiny. : In the beginning, Antonelle's life was easy and passion-less, as he was raised the youngest in a noble family. At 35 years old, more for himself than for his city, he returned, with little regard for how he was depicted, he dragged himself along with melancholy typical of the end of this century and suffered from a bittersweet lovesickness…      

His determined entry on the burgeoning revolutionary scene, and his consistency of thought, made him the first mayor of Arles. But soon, boiling over for his attachment to Avignon in France he left the people of Arles to tear themselves apart. A grave error, indeed.

 His personality develops reasoning and, as his biographer tells us, “a complex relationship to violence. " In Paris, a new cycle begins: president of the Jacobin Club, refusal to the mayor of Paris, the events surround the jury charged with cutting off the head of Marie-Antoinette and the Girondins ...  

 The Journal des Hommes Libres states: He avoided being imprisoned by Robespierre, whose death releases him from prison as well as from the obligation to act. From 1794 to 1799, he left the spotlight to become one of the theoreticians of the Republic, reflecting fundamental freedoms. 

 As the most prominent editor of the Journal des Hommes Libres, Antonelle remained in a constant state of worry. For the extremists, the writings of a noble are to be ignored. And, when finally he becomes a known reference, a little Corsican Corporal full of imperial ambitions places a shadow over Antonelle. 

 During the monarchy, the paradox continues. Antonelle returns to Arles more frequently, before finally settling there. Policemen diligently follow his movements for the Marquis who, perhaps, had a keen interest to those who believed that the Republic was dead in France, but in Italy maybe ... 

 Then, Antonelle dedicates himself to the management of his assets. He succeeded (becoming the fifth largest fortune of Arles), while becoming «es moussu d'Antonello, lou capeù a la man » liberal with his tenants who, at his death, pay him a vibrant tribute, while his opponents are merely concerned with burying him.  Despite them, the work undertaken by Antonelle is erased, disappeared without any offspring or even a picture in the National Archives... 

The shadow of Arles in the light of Antonelle,Pierre Serna: "If Antonelle is not the key to the Revolution, he is perhaps the mat."

Professor of history at the University of Reims, Pierre Serna, discovered Arlésien Antonelle while working on revolutionary aristocrats. This "meeting" gave birth to his work which teaches us much about the Revolution, in general, and Arles, in particular. Pierre Serna, who came to sign the book at Actes Sud, was awarded the Medal of the City and gave a lecture at the invitation of the Academy of Arles and Friends of Old Arles.

What was decisive for Antonelle’s evolution? A true capacity for the observation of social blockages of the late eighteenth century. He himself, who is someone in Arles, is nothing. In Arles, from 1782 to 1789, he made a big comeback, without interfering in public life. He discovered the "Enlightenment," from works published between 1740 and 1760.

Was he really one of the inspirations for the Republic? : The decisive contribution of Antonelle in the history of political thought is this: between the forms of clashing democracy he explored the path of a republic of representation and free mandate whose applications run deep. And I think it's because of his dual identity of both noble and revolutionary, that he was able to design this representative democracy. Antonelle was first a journalist, a cultural intermediary in a troubled time. Under the Directoire, he gave birth to political press, which shows the full measure of his thought.  

Why is he so forgotten today? : Today, we still have an image of the Revolution which has been largely shaped by rewriting the last century. In this period of confrontation, where the return of the monarchy was a possibility, the Revolution is the subject of a history of combat. On the one hand, Republicans struggle to recognize the contribution of the noble revolutionaries like Antonelle and, and for the same reasons, the royalists reject into oblivion the "betrayers". Add to this everything that Antonelle did to erase himself, and the response is clear. Today, we no longer have this ideological reading of the Revolution. Our understanding of history is less "heroic" and more human.

By finding Antonelle, what will the citizens of Arles discover about their city? : During Antonelle’s time Arles was a political science laboratory due to its special status as consulate and for the composition of the social body. Arles had all facets of the country in "miniature." The Arlésiens learned to manage themselves, there was a real political consciousness that manifested into the radicalization of political positions. At the beginning of the Revolution, Arles anticipated being involved for three or four months on the national scene.  The Arles "Laboratory" was at times disturbing, and Antonelle did nothing to calm it down. We have found demonstrations of verbal violence which sometimes went quite far ... It was an atmosphere of mutual fear, where they stroke with the fear of being hit.                                                    

Journal of Arles in January 1988.