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Women of Modern France

114 pages
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Ajouté le : 01 décembre 2010
Lecture(s) : 17
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Women of Modern France, by Hugo P. Thieme This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Women of Modern France Woman In All Ages And In All Countries Author: Hugo P. Thieme Release Date: November 26, 2005 [EBook #17159] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WOMEN OF MODERN FRANCE *** Produced by Thierry Alberto, William Flis and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team Europe at Transcriber's Note: The Table of Contents was added by the Transcriber. WOMAN In all ages and in all countries WOMEN OF MODERN FRANCE by HUGO P. THIEME, Ph.D. Of the University of Michigan THE RITTENHOUSE PRESS PHILADELPHIA Copyrighted at Washington and entered at Stationer's Hall, London, 1907–1908 and printed by arrangement with George Barrie's Sons. PRINTED IN U.S.A. Contents PREFACE Chapter I. Woman in politics Chapter II. Woman in Family Life, Education, and Letters Chapter III. The Seventeenth Century: Woman at Her Best Chapter IV. Woman in Society and Literature Chapter V. Mistresses and Wives of Louis XIV Chapter VI. Mme. de Sévigné, Mme. de La Fayette, Mme. Dacier, Mme. de Caylus Chapter VII. Woman in Religion Chapter VIII. Salon Leaders: Mme. de Tencin, Mme. Geoffrin, Mme. du Deffand, Mlle. de Lespinasse, Mme. du Châtelet Chapter IX. Salon Leaders—(Continued): Mme. Necker, Mme. d'Epinay, Mme. de Genlis: Minor Salons Chapter X. Social Classes vii 1 31 69 97 131 165 197 221 249 277 Chapter XI. Royal Mistresses Chapter XII. Marie Antoinette and the Revolution Chapter XIII. Women of the Revolution and the Empire Chapter XIV. Women of the Nineteenth Century [pg vii] 305 329 355 381 PREFACE Among the Latin races, the French race differs essentially in one characteristic which has been the key to the success of French women—namely, the social instinct. The whole French nation has always lived for the present time, in actuality, deriving from life more of what may be called social pleasure than any other nation. It has been a universal characteristic among French people since the sixteenth century to love to please, to make themselves agreeable, to bring joy and happiness to others, and to be loved and admired as well. With this instinctive trait French women have always been bountifully endowed. Highly emotional, they love to charm, and this has become an art with them; balancing this emotional nature is the mathematical quality. These two combined have made French women the great leaders in their own country and among women of all races. They have developed the art of studying themselves; and the art of coquetry, which has become a virtue, is a science with them. The singular power of discrimination, constructive ability, calculation, subtle intriguing, a clear and concise manner of expression, a power of conversation unequalled in women of any other country, clear thinking: all these qualities have been strikingly illustrated in the various great women of the different periods of the history of France, and according to these they may by right be judged; for their moral qualities have not always been in accordance with the standard of other races. According as these two fundamental qualities, the emotional and mathematical, have been developed in individual women, we meet the different types which have made themselves prominent in history. The queens of France, in general, have been submissive and pious, dutiful and virtuous wives, while the mistresses have been bold and frivolous, licentious and self-assertive. The women outside of these spheres either looked on with indifference or regret at the all-powerfulness of this latter class, unable to change conditions, or themselves enjoyed the privilege of the mistress. It must be remembered that in the great social circles in France, especially from the sixteenth to the end of the eighteenth centuries, marriage was a mere convention, offences against it being looked upon as matters concerning manners, not morals; therefore, much of the so-called gross immorality of French women may be condoned. It will be seen in this history that French women have acted banefully on politics, causing mischief, inciting jealousy and revenge, almost invariably an instrument in the hands of man, acting as a disturbing element. In art, literature, religion, and business, however, they have ever been a directing force, a guide, a critic and judge, an inspiration and companion to man. The wholesome results of French women's activity are reflected especially in art and literature, and to a lesser degree in religion and morality, by the tone of elegance, politeness, finesse, clearness, precision, purity, and a general high standard which man followed if he was to succeed. In politics much severe blame and reproach have been heaped upon her—she is made responsible for breaking treaties, for activity in all intrigues, participating in and inciting to civil and foreign wars, encouraging and sanctioning assassinations and massacres, championing the Machiavelian policy and practising it at every opportunity. It has been the aim of this history of French women to present the results rather than the actual happenings of their lives, and these have been gathered from the most authoritative and scholarly publications on the subject, to which the writer herewith wishes to give all credit. HUGO PAUL THIEME. [pg viii] [pg ix] University of Michigan. [pg 1] Chapter I Woman in politics [pg 3] French women of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, when studied according to the distinctive phases of their influence, are best divided into three classes: those queens who, as wives, represented virtue, education, and family life; the mistresses, who were instigators of political intrigue, immorality, and vice; and the authoresses and other educated women, who constituted themselves the patronesses of art and literature. This division is not absolute by any means; for we see that in the sixteenth century the regent-mother (for example, Louise of Savoy and Catherine de' Medici), in extent of influence, fills the same position as does the mistress in the eighteenth century; though in the former period appears, in Diana of Poitiers, the first of a long line of ruling mistresses. Queen-consorts, in the sixteenth as in the following centuries, exercised but little influence; they were, as a rule, gentle and obedient wives—even Catherine, domineering as she afterward showed herself to be, betraying no signs of that trait until she became regent. [pg 4] The literary women and women of spirit and wit furthered all intellectual and social development; but it was the mistresses—those great women of political schemes and moral degeneracy—who were vested with the actual importance, and it must in justice to
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