Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Closer Look At: The Dames du Palais

Up until 1674 the Queen's household had counted several dame d'honneurs - amounting to a married lady-in-waiting - and demoiselles d'honneurs or filles d'honneurs which were young, unmarried girls in the Queen's service. However, they were replaced by the new position of Dame du Palais who had to be at least 12 years old - one can only imagine that the Queen had tired spoiled, young girls being placed in her care.
Overall, the job of a Dame du Palais was simply to keep the Queen company. They were to be constantly available to the Queen since they were a sort of assistant to her; a chore could be to fetch something for the Queen. However, it should be made clear that the Dames du Palais were not considered to be servants, they were of too high birth for such a "low" title - instead they were quality companions. Since the Dames were expected to escort the Queen everywhere they had to have what may be called a complete court education. Riding, dancing and playing instruments were skills that every Dame had to possess; furthermore the ability to supervise a household, handle expensive gowns and write in preferably a couple of languages were considered standard.

Madame de Prié - Dame du Palais to
Marie Leszczynska
Ever since the first appearance of the title "Dame du Palais" it had been decided that the Queen was to have 12 Dames du Palais - but by the time the royal family was taken from Versailles in 1789 Marie Antoinette had 19 Dames du Palais (the number is the year they were appointed to the post):

Marquise de Talleyrand (1740)
Comtesse Gabrielle d'Adhémar (1763)
Duchesse Louise de Duras (1767)
Duchesse Madeleine de Luxembourg (1771)
Duchesse Guyonne de Luynes (1775)
Marquise Colette de la Roche-Aymon (1775)
Princesse Adélaïde d'Hénin (1778)
Princesse Marie-Thérèse de Berghes (1781)
Duchesse Marie-Claudine de Fitz-James (1781)
Comtesse Marie Louise de Polastron (1782)
Comtesse Claude de Juginé (1784)
Princesse Louise de Tarente (1785)
Vicomtesse Gabrielle de Castellane (1786)
Comtesse Eugénie de Gramont (1788)
Comtesse de Henriette Maillé (1788)
Princesse de Cröy (1789)
Princesse de Solre (1789)
Comtesse de Luxembourg (1789)
Duchesse Gabrielle de Saulx-Tavanes (1789)

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