By Anne-Marie-Louise D'Orleans Montpensier, Duchesse De Montpensier

In seventeenth-century France, aristocratic ladies have been valued through their households as commodities to be married off in alternate for cash, 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 considered one of only a few exceptions, because of the gigantic wealth she inherited from her mom, who died almost immediately after Montpensier was once born. She used to be additionally one of many few politically strong ladies in France on the time to were an entire author. within the bold letters offered during this bilingual variation, Montpensier condemns the alliance process of marriage, presenting as an alternative to discovered a republic that she could govern, "a nook of the area during which . . . ladies are their very own mistresses," and the place marriage or even courtship will be outlawed. Her pastoral utopia would offer remedy and vocational education for the bad, and the entire houses could have libraries and reports, in order that every one girl might have a "room of her personal" within which to write down books. Joan DeJean's full of life advent and obtainable translation of Montpensier's letters—four formerly unpublished—allow us extraordinary entry to the brave voice of this striking girl.

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Additional resources for Against Marriage: The Correspondence of La Grande Mademoiselle (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe)

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Any civil war profoundly destabilizes a society, making many things impossible, but at the same time making possible things that would never otherwise have taken place. Among the least expected consequences of the Fronde was surely the fact that during those tumultuous years, women from the highest ranks of the nobility participated in military actions to a degree unheard of in France before or since. Among them, three duchesses—the duchesse de Chevreuse, the duchesse de Longueville, and the duchesse de Montpensier—were by far the most visible: all three rode at the head of armies and played key strategic roles.

In Montpensier’s case, scholars encouraged her to read widely, to learn Italian (above all, in order to read Tasso in the original), and to begin to take her own writing seriously. 4 The question of who wrote exactly how much of each work is clearly unanswerable today. The fact remains that it was during her exile that Montpensier began the experiments with prose fiction that would continue to occupy her until the 1670s. 5 4. On the question of Montpensier’s collaboration with Segrais, see my Tender Geographies: Women and the Origins of the Novel in France (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 52–55.

In seventeenth-century French, these words—along with “repose” and “desert”—were used to mean political exile; they also signified, as is the case in the opening paragraph of Montpensier’s memoirs, all the positive aspects of life away from the agitation of court life. On this vocabulary and its uses, see Domna Stanton, “The Ideal of ‘repos’ in Seventeenth-Century French Literature,” L’Esprit créateur 15, nos. 1–2 (spring–summer 1975): 79–104. 11 12 La Grande Mademoiselle official notification of that difference with her decision to leave the court again soon thereafter, this time of her own volition, for another of her estates, Champigny-sur-Veude.

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