Elisabeth Berkover (elisaberk) wrote in little_details,
Elisabeth Berkover

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Presentation at the court of Louis XIV

Setting: 17th Century France
Research Conducted: Google searches for "Presentation at Court 17th century France"; "Presentation at Court to Louis XIV"; "Presentation at Court Versailles" as well as reading passages from the book Versailles: The Biography of a Palace

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, the only information I've been able to find on this subject has been more tantalizing than informative and there's far more information available about being presented to Marie-Antoinette than to Louis XIV. I know from my research that in order to be eligible for presentation at the French court, one had to be able to prove one's family's nobility at least to the year 1400 and one had to have a sponsor who would actually make the presentation. According to the book listed above, for women, this was usually performed by one's mother-in-law while men would be presented to the king by their fathers, usually during the royal hunt. However, if this is the case, then it makes it seem as if only married women were eligible for presentation which to me seems...off, at least for the 17th century. If that were the case, then how could a woman like Louise de la Vallière have resided at court as one of Madame's ladies-in-waiting since only presented nobles were even allowed in the presence of royalty according to the sources I've found on the subject.

So my questions...

1) Were unmarried women eligible for presentation, and if so, how was this handled?
2) Given that one had to prove the nobility of one's family to the year 1400, were foreigners ineligible for presentation? Common sense seems to reject this idea since one would assume that the wives of ambassadors were received at court as were foreign nobles who traveled to see the wonders of Versailles. Did the rule still apply, however? And, if a foreigner wanted to be presented to the king, queen and princes of the blood, did he/she have to bring a genealogy with him/her that proved nobility of suitable age?

My protagonist is a Scottish woman whose family is in self-exile in France (during the Commonwealth years) and who chooses to remain there even after her family returns to Scotland. Eventually she does marry a French nobleman but if she's ineligible for presentation at court, then it will require a significant rethink on my part in order to maintain plausibility of the story's events. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
Tags: 1600-1699, france: history

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