By Hugo P. Thieme
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Additional resources for Women of Modern France
Voltaire wrote: "De perles, d'astres et de fleurs, Bourbon, le ciel fit tes couleurs, Et mit dedans tout ce mélange L'esprit d'un ange! " [The heaven made thy colors, Bourbon, of pearls, of stars, of flowers, and to all this mixture added the spirit of an angel. ] In 1642, at the age of twenty-three, she was married, against her will, to M. de Longueville who was, after the princes of the blood, the greatest seigneur of France; he was old and indifferent, and enamored of another woman, while she was young and full of hopes, ambitions, and love.
The king, being of the same class, knew no better, or, if he did, had not the moral courage to compel a change; thus, the institution of a reformatory movement fell to the lot of woman. Then, however, woman was but little better than man; to gain his esteem, she would first have to make radical changes in her own behavior and become self-respecting. The customs of the time placed many disadvantages in the way of her social and moral reform. As a rule, the young girl was confined to a convent until she reached marriageable age; when that came and with it an undesired husband, she was ready for almost any prank that would relieve the monotony of her uncongenial marital relations.
After securing the release of her friend Châteauneuf, Mme. de Chevreuse set to work to restore him to his former office of Guard of the Seals, but did not succeed. She then turned her attention to undermining the power of Mazarin, agitating all émigrés returning to France and starting the most outspoken denunciation of the policy of the cardinal, his injustice and tyranny against the nobility. The cries of disapproval became so general that Mazarin was kept busy warding off the blows aimed at him by his enemy; the latter succeeded in placing Châteauneuf as Chancelier des ordres du roi and in having his estates restored to him, while Alexandre de Campion she placed in the household of the queen.