Saturday, July 26, 2014

Private rooms of Louise-Élizabeth de Croÿ de Tourzel, Governess to the Children of France

After we saw the Queen's private rooms, the guide was leading us to our next destination when Elissa pointed out a door that we were by-passing and asked if we could go through the rooms beyond it.  She knew that the rooms belonged to Madame de Tourzel. the last Governess of Marie Antoinette's children, because she'd been there before.  In fact, the reason Elissa and I became Eighteenth Century soul mates is because, during the winter of 2012, I was planning a Spring Break trip to Paris and stumbled across her blog and saw pictures from her private Versailles tour. A couple of exchanged emails and one phone conversation later and we decided to chase French history together.  (Photos from both her previous Versailles tour and the one we did together are on Elissa's blog, Chasing French History.)

Foreground:  Guide and two guards discuss whether or not the alarm was set in Madame Tourzel's rooms as one of the guards radios God, or someone nearly as powerful, to ask permission to enter.

Background:  Lori and Pat, Elissa's teacher friends - and now mine

Madame de Tourzel was the widow of one of Louis XVI's courtiers who'd died in a hunting accident. She and her teenage daughter, Pauline, cared for the Marie Thérèse and Louis-Charles at Versailles, the Tuileries, and the Temple, barely escaping execution themselves.

The rooms are markedly smaller and less adorned than those of the Royal Family but, when they were inhabited, of course, they would've been decorated with the belongings of Madame de Tourzel, whose family wasn't made up of paupers.  It was a carefully guarded privilege, often hereditary, to serve at Court and one only accorded the most illustrious families. In appointing Madame de Tourzel's predecessor, Marie Antoinette had broken with tradition by giving the position to her personal friend, the Duchesse de Polignac.  By doing so, the Queen deprived a higher ranking family of the honor.  The Duchesse and her family had already been over-promoted and their coffers excessively enriched, despite their relatively low status at court, and the Marie Antoinette's decision further contributed to her unpopularity at Court and, ultimately, with the public.

Despite the lack of embellishment, I loved the rooms.  I'm partial to small, dark places.  Many hermits are.

I don't know the purpose of this room that connected two larger ones. The lower panel on the far wall has a platform on it which made me think of a giant diaper changing table.  Power of suggestion.  Governess and all that.


Anonymous said...

You look so a kid in a candy store!!!

Madeleine Doak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madeleine Doak said...

Only family and a few friends make me happier than studying French history. To visit these places is like connecting with a piece of me - like visiting an old friend or family. Sounds weird, even to me, but it's true.