Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Closer Look At: The Superintendent of the Queen's Household

The leader of it all was the Superintendent of the Queen's Household to whom every new member of Her Majesty's household would swear a solemn oath of servitude. The Superintendent had quite extensive privileges for example being able to nominate someone for a post within the Queen's household; she also had the final say in quarrels between members of the household. Furthermore, the Superintendent could also dismiss anyone she did not think fit. A Superintendent was considered important enough to have her own rooms at Versailles and was the only female employee save the Governess of the Children of France to swear an oath to the King. The post of Superintendent was for life making the decision all the more important since the Queen could not get rid of the one holding the position once it was given.

Inevitable a post of this magnitude must have been haunted by some unpleasantness which is definitely the case with the role of the Superintendent. Louis XIV actually placed two of his favourites, Olympe Mancini and Madame de Montespan, in this dominating position which can not have been easy for Marie Thérèse - especially since the humiliation was performed twice.
Marie Leszczynska was so fed up with the extent of these privileges that upon the death of her Superintendent, Mademoiselle de Clermont, she asked the King to leave the post unemployed. It remained thus until Marie Antoinette appointed the Princesse de Lamballe to the powerful post, something she was later to partially regret when she had somewhat tired of the Princesse.

Olympe Mancini - Superintendent to Marie Thérèse

Madame de Montespan - Superintendent (by
order of Louis XIV) to Marie Thérèse.

Mademoiselle de Clermont - Superintendent to Marie Leszczynska

                                                              Princesse de Lamballe - Superintendent to Marie Antoinette

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