Louis XVI Gives a Marriage Dowry to 100 Poor French Girls

March 16, 2023

The arrival of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette at church and greeted by the Archbishop of Paris.. Photo from the Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Foundation)

On February 9th, 1779 (in the narrative of Louise de Grandpré, to whom the study of Notre Dame has been a veritable passion), a large crowd pressed towards the cathedral; the ground was strewed with fresh grass and flowers and leaves; the pillars were decorated with many coloured banners. In the choir the vestments of the saints were displayed: the burning 36tapers lit up the interior with a dazzling brightness: the organ filled the church with joyful harmony, and the bells rang out with all their might. The whole court was present, the King himself assisting at the ceremony, and the galleries were full to overflowing of ladies of distinction in the gayest of dresses.

Queen Marie Antoinette of France and her husband King Louis XVI of France with their daughter Princess Marie Therese Charlotte.

Then slowly, through the door of St. Anne, entered a hundred young girls dressed in white, covered with long veils and with orange blossom on their heads. These were the hundred poor girls whom Louis XVI. had dowered in memory of the birth of Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte of France, afterwards Duchess of Angoulême, and it was his wish to assist personally at their wedding and to seal their marriage licences with his sword, which was ornamented on the handle or pommel with the “fleur de lys”.

Through the door of the Virgin entered at the same time one hundred young men, having each a sprig of orange blossom in his button-hole. The two rows advanced together with measured steps, preceded by two Swiss, who struck the pavement heavily with their halberds. They advanced as far as the chancel rails, where each young man gave his hand to a young girl, his fiancée, and marched slowly before the King, bowing to him and receiving a bow in return. They were then married by the Archbishop in person.

A wanderer in Paris by Lucas, E. V. (Edward Verrall), 1868-1938. Chapter III, Pgs. 35-36.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 870


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