Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Governesses of the Children of France

A high-ranking lady was entrusted with the care of the precious Children of France - that being the children of the monarch. Naturally, this was considered to be an important task. The woman chosen would have close contact to the royal children and as such could be a source of influence. Consequently, it was vital to choose with care.

Francoise de Lansac
Governess to Louis XIV and Philippe d'Orléans

Married to Artus de Saint Gelais. She died in 1657 when her charges were 19 and 17 years respectively.

Louise de Prie, Duchesse de Codona
Governess to the children of Louis XIV from 1661 to 1672
Governess to the children of the Grand Dauphin from 1682 to 1691

Married to Philippe de La Mothe-Houdancourt, Duc de Codona 

Louise de Prie

Francoise d'Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon
Governess to the children of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan from 1669 to 1682

She would live with her charges in a house bought by Madame de Montespan in the Rue de Vaugirad; here the royal mistress installed the future royal mistress with servants and a large income. The Marquise was officially instated as governess of the royal children on 20 December 1673 when the children were legitimised. Due to her good work with his children, Louis XIV awarded her the enormous sum of 200.000 livres.

Married to Paul Scarron

Madame de Maintenon

Marie Isabelle Gabrielle Angélique de La Mothe-Houdancourt, Duchesse de La Ferté-Senneterre
Governess to the children of the Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne from 1709-1710

Married to Henri Francois de Saint-Nectaire

The Duchesse de La Ferté-Senneterre with her two charges

Charlotte de La Mothe-Houdancourt, Marquise de Ventadour
Governess to the children of the Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne from 1710
Governess to the children of Louis XV from 1727-1735

The marquise is directly responsible for Louis XV surviving the epidemic that killed his parents and older brother. She knew that the doctors had purged and bled her eldest charge to death and in attempt to protect the youngest she barricaded herself in her apartment. Here, she nursed the little boy back to health. Louis XV continued to be immensely fond of his governess even when he was fully grown.

Married to Louis Charles de Lévis
She was the daughter of Louise de Prie

Mignard - Madame de Ventadour.jpg
Marquise de Ventadour
Marie Isabelle de Rohan, Duchesse de Tallard
Governess to the children of Louis XV 
Governess to the children of Louis Ferdinand 

She was genuinely beloved her charges who mourned her deeply when she died in 1754. She had also been responsible for the care of Louis Ferdinand's children. Ironically, she would never have children of her own.

Granddaughter of Madame de Ventadour and married to Joseph d'Hostun de La Baume

Marie Louise de Rohan, Comtesse de Marsan
Governess to the children of Louis Ferdinand and Marie Josèphe de Saxe

She had also briefly taken her aunt's position as governess to Louis XV's children although they were not in need of a governess for much longer by 1754. Her decided favourite was the Comte de Provence; he would refer to her as ma petite chère amie.
She greatly opposed the marriage between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette - the latter's dislike of etiquette prompted the Comtesse to resign.

Niece of the Duchesse de Tallard and married to Gaston Jean Baptiste de Lorraine

Victoire de Rohan, Princesse de Guéméné
Governess to the children of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette from 1776-82

She succeeded her aunt, the Comtesse de Marsan. Unlike her aunt the Princesse became a close friend of Marie Antoinette. She is the only governess who was forced to resign in 1782 due to a scandalous family debt of no less than 33 million livres. 

She was married to Henri Louis, Prince de Guéméné

Princesse de Guéméné with Madame Royale

Yolande de Polastron, Duchesse de Polignac 
Governess to the children of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette from 1782-89

Her appointment to the post of royal governess caused quite a scandal; she was not considered to possess the necessary pedigree to fulfil her charge. Her friendship with the queen became weaker as Yolande tried to push through politicians whom Marie Antoinette hated.

Married to Jules de Polignac

Duchess de Polignac.jpg
Duchesse de Polignac

Louise Elisabeth du Croÿ, Marquise de Tourzel
Governess to the children of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette from 1789-92

She accompanied the royal family as they were imprisoned; when the monarchy was dissolved in 1792 she was separated from the royal family. She survived the revolution and was rewarded by Charles X with the title of Duchesse

Marquise de Tourzel

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