The Feminist Encyclopedia of French Literature

By Eva Martin Sartori; Colette H. Winn et al. | Go to book overview

M

Maintenon, Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de ( 1635-1719). Although she was the granddaughter of the famous Huguenot poet Agrippa d'Aubigné, she was born, and baptized Catholic, in a jail, the child of a disgraced father and an unaffectionate mother who would focus her care on her two sons. Following her family's journey to the Antilles in a failed attempt to seek fortune, and then her father's death, young Frangoise was left to the care of a beloved aunt who raised her in the Protestant faith. As a new wave of religious intolerance was rising from the court, she was coerced into an Ursuline convent* where she eventually embraced Catholicism. By the age of sixteen, she was in Paris, penniless and without social protection. Rather than joining a convent, as expected in her situation, Françoise consented to marry the poet Scarron, crippled and much older but a celebrity in the Parisian salons*. Amid this refined précieuse society, she acquired much of the social education necessary to her future advancement. In the years of poverty following Scarron's death in 1660, she endeavored to maintain a certain level of respectability, which was finally acknowledged when she became governess of Mme de Montespan's bastards with Louis XIV. The year 1669 marked the rise of her phenomenal public career, which culminated in 1683 with her legitimate, though secret, marriage* to the king of France. Although for the next forty years she would be associated with the miseries of his reign, she cannot be personally blamed for the king's political mistakes, such as religious persecution, especially the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and international politics in general. She was pious and respectful of the Church's dogma. Consequently, she incurred the wrath of the courtiers with her customary devotion that censured their libertine inclinations. In fact, her extraordinary elevation made her an easy scapegoat for the monarchy's failures. Despite accusations of religious hypocrisy and monstrous ambition, she was probably a woman of strong principles with a sense of destiny at the side of the aging king. She used her privileged position to promote reforms within

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The Feminist Encyclopedia of French Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Note x
  • A Feminist History of French Literature xi
  • Bibliography xv
  • Bibliography xx
  • Bibliography xxiii
  • Bibliography xxvi
  • Bibliography xxx
  • Bibliography xxxv
  • A 3
  • B 34
  • C 72
  • D 137
  • E 171
  • F 195
  • G 223
  • H 250
  • I 266
  • J 275
  • K 280
  • L 287
  • M 333
  • O 400
  • P 404
  • Q 447
  • R 451
  • S 483
  • T 524
  • V 542
  • W 554
  • Y 563
  • Appendix A: General Bibliography 567
  • Appendix B: Chronology of French Women Writers 573
  • Index 585
  • Contributors 631
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