Friday, June 15, 2007

Almsgiving of Marie-Antoinette

Madame de la Tour du Pin, a lady-in-waiting of Marie-Antoinette, recorded in her spirited Memoirs the daily activities at Versailles, including the rumors and the gossip. Her pen does not spare Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, which is why I find the following account to be of interest. Every Sunday, Marie-Antoinette would personally take up a collection for the poor, which the courtiers resented since they preferred to have the money on hand for gambling. The queen supported several impoverished families from her own purse. As Madame de la Tour du Pin describes:

We had to be there before seven, for the Queen entered before the chiming of the clock. Beside her door would be one of the two Curés of Versailles. He would hand her a purse and she would go around to everyone, taking up a collection and saying: "For the poor, if you please." Each lady had her 'écu' of six francs ready in her hand and the men had their 'louis.' The Curé would follow the Queen as she collected this small tax for her poor people, a levy which often totaled as much as much as one hundred 'louis' and never less than fifty. I often heard some of the younger people, including the most spendthrift, complaining inordinately of this almsgiving being forced upon them, yet they would not have thought twice of hazarding a sum one hundred times as large in a game of chance, a sum much larger than that levied by the Queen. Share


Anonymous said...

Please excuse any mistakes as I type this my new son and daughter have returned from their honeymoon/
Sacre bleu!

In any event. I wonder how much the revolutionary government gave to the poor out of their pocket. It seems to me that the mob is always willing to give away someone else's money and not theirs. Then claim that the nation has supported the poor whereas the monarchy did not.

Written on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, symbol of the counter-revolution.

Vive le Roi! Vive le Roi! Vive le Roi!

Dieu Savez le Roi.

Richard Sieur de Brantigny dit Boisvert

elena maria vidal said...

Greed for wealth and power is one of the underlying causes of every revolution.

Anonymous said...

And so it goes today.....but I have read that Americans are the most generous people.The concept of charity was brought to this country by the early colonists.