By Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier
In seventeenth-century France, aristocratic ladies have been valued via their households as commodities to be married off in trade for funds, social virtue, or army alliance. as soon as married, they grew to become legally subservient to their husbands. The duchesse de Montpensier—a first cousin of Louis XIV—was one in every of only a few exceptions, because of the big wealth she inherited from her mom, who died presently after Montpensier was once born. She used to be additionally one of many few politically robust ladies in France on the time to were an complete author. within the bold letters awarded during this bilingual version, Montpensier condemns the alliance approach of marriage, presenting as an alternative to came upon a republic that she could govern, "a nook of the realm within which . . . ladies are their very own mistresses," and the place marriage or even courtship will be outlawed. Her pastoral utopia would offer treatment and vocational education for the bad, and the entire houses could have libraries and reviews, in order that each one girl might have a "room of her personal" during which to write down books. Joan DeJean's vigorous advent and obtainable translation of Montpensier's letters—four formerly unpublished—allow us exceptional entry to the brave voice of this impressive girl.
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Extra resources for Against Marriage: The Correspondence of La Grande Mademoiselle (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe)
Furthermore, the manuscript contains the text of four additional letters, published here for the ﬁrst time. We know that the correspondence as published in the 1667 edition was incomplete: in her Mémoires Montpensier says that they exchanged letters “for a year or two” (C. 3:453, P. 42:491, B. 2:146). This corresponds to the time frame of the eight letters found in the Bibliothèque nationale’s manuscript, which were written over a period of some ﬁfteen months, and which, unlike the ﬁrst four letters that end in medias res, form a complete unit.
That value, however, was not negotiable in the usual way, for Montpensier was, to an extent otherwise unheard of in her day, a free agent in the marital system. Almost all of her inheritance had come to her directly from her mother, Marie de Bourbon, duchesse de Montpensier—sole heiress to several fortunes amassed by the Montpensier family in the sixteenth century—who died within days of the birth of her only child. Montpensier was therefore thoroughly her own mistress, able to decide completely independently what would become of her person and her estates.
Louis XIV and Mazarin were watching from high ground just outside Paris, awaiting the seemingly inevitable massacre—when Montpensier issued orders to turn the cannon of the Bastille, which normally faced inward on the city, against the royal forces. Condé and the rebels were saved. And, as if to make certain that her ﬁrst cousin the king would know who was responsible for his defeat, Montpensier—in this case, every inch the “grande” Mademoiselle— dominated the scene from the towers of the Bastille: she even added a large hat and long plumes to make her already notable stature more impressive still and guaranteed that she would be visible from a great distance.
Against Marriage: The Correspondence of La Grande Mademoiselle (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe) by Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier