Women of Versailles, 1682–1789

Kathryn Norberg

in Servants of the Dynasty

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254435
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941519 | DOI:
Women of Versailles, 1682–1789

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Versailles is one of the most written about palaces on earth, but we know more about the women of the palace at Edo or Aceh than we do about the ladies of Louis XIV's chateau. In France, nobles tended to employ more male than female servants, and royalty was no exception. This chapter explores some of the commonalities of the Versailles palace women and points to gender patterns that characterized life at Versailles. It examines how a woman's sex dictated her life chances within the great palace and how sex was in turn used by the monarch to extend his dominion over the royal court. It considers how many women occupied the palace, how they were recruited, what work they performed in the palace, what positions of authority palace life provided, whether these positions were equal or whether they were inferior to those offered to men, and how the gender arrangements in Versailles advanced the monarch's rule.

Keywords: Versailles; palace women; gender; sex; authority; monarch; France; nobles; servants; royal court

Chapter.  10815 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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