Visions and Revisions of Eighteenth-Century France

By Christine Adams; Jack R. Censer et al. | Go to book overview

3
Devoted Companions or Surrogate Spouses?
Sibling Relations in Eighteenth-Century France

Christine Adams

On 11 January 1763, Marie de Lamothe wrote to her brother Victor in Paris concerning her activities during the previous month, noting, "I stayed with the family [at Goulards] until our return to Bordeaux, where I have been since then. I left them for four days to go to our dear Muscadet in the company of my fidel époux [or faithful spouse]."1 An unremarkable letter, except that Marie was referring not to a spouse (she was unmarried) but rather, to her elder brother Delphin. Marie's word choice suggests that she was well aware of the fact that she had established a quasi-marital relationship with her brother, and that on a number of levels, she filled the role of wife for him.

In eighteenth-century France, and indeed throughout Europe, the presence of both a man and a woman was generally considered crucial to the

____________________
1
Lamothe family letters, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress. Marie to Victor, 11 January 1763.

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