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Servants of Francophilia: French Migrant Women as Governesses in the Bohemian Lands, between Cultural Transmission and Reproduction of Social Distinction (1750–1810)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 August 2021

Veronika Čapská*
Affiliation:
Department of Historical Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czechia
*
Corresponding author: Veronika Čapská, Email: veronika.capska@fhs.cuni.cz

Abstract

This article shows empirical and conceptual possibilities of exploring the transcultural roles and economic situations of French migrant women who served as governesses in the noble circles of the Habsburg monarchy. It combines various research methods, employing narrative textual analysis, socioeconomic and material culture approaches, and cultural exchange perspectives. The author uses printed librettos and comparative insights to reveal broader social anxieties connected with governesses who crossed multiple borders in terms of geography, culture, language, class, and the gender order. She also draws attention to inheritance tax–related sources as evidence of these women's economic conditions. Finally, the author outlines the major shifts in attitudes toward the French language and French immigrants and shows how these affected the governesses’ labor market.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota

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Footnotes

I worked on this study while holding a visiting fellowship at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, in 2018/19. I am grateful to the Trinity Hall scholarly community for their hospitality and support. This article was written as a contribution to the project of Specific University Research (SVV) 2021 – 260 607 01 at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czechia. The text was finished under a long-term lockdown of archives and libraries in 2020. I wish to thank the two anonymous peer reviewers for their comments. I am also grateful to Petra Ezzeddine, my faculty colleague in sociocultural anthropology and gender studies, and to Janine Maegraith and Jan Zdichynec, two fellow historians, for their valuable feedback on the working version of this paper.

References

2 Cf. Bianca Maria Lindorfer, “Cosmopolitan Aristocracy and the Diffusion of Baroque Culture. Cultural Transfer from Spain to Austria in the Seventeenth Century” (PhD diss., European University Institute in Florence, 2009). Lindorfer also provides plenty of references to earlier works that emphasized the cosmopolitanism of nobility.

3 See, for example, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work (Stanford, 2001); Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, ed., Domestic Service and the Formation of European Identity: Understanding the Globalization of Domestic Work, 16th–21st Centuries (Bern, 2004); Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk, Silke Neunsinger, and Dirk Hoerder, eds., Towards a Global History of Domestic and Caregiving Workers (Leiden, 2015).

4 Wiesner-Hanks, Merry, “Early Modern Women and the Transnational Turn,” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal 7 (2012): 191202CrossRefGoogle Scholar. This article builds on Wiesner-Hanks, Merry, “Crossing Borders in Transnational Gender History,” Journal of Global History 6 (2011): 357–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Central and Eastern Europe is also a blind spot in the chapter by Katharine M. Donato and Donna Gabaccia, “Gender and Early Modern Migrations, 1492–1867,” in Gender and International Migration, ed. Katharine M. Donato and Donna Gabaccia (New York, 2015), 55–73.

5 Sebastian Kühn has recently pointed out that the concept of the subaltern was employed in the eighteenth century to describe a subordinate who was expected to perform their work with diligence, loyalty, and accuracy, as can be found, for example, in Johann Heinrich Zedler, Grosses Vollständiges Universallexicon aller Wissenschaften und Künste, vol. 40 (Halle/Leipzig, 1744), 773–74. See Kühn, Sebastian, “Die Gräfin, die Gouvernante und der König, Perspektiven auf Dienstleute als Boten in einem aristokratischen Haushalt des 18. Jahrhunderts,” Historische Anthropologie: Kultur, Gesellschaft, Alltag 20 (2012): 59CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In the first half of the twentieth century, Antonio Gramsci adapted this concept to serve as an analytical tool in the humanities and social sciences, and it was later taken up by subaltern studies. Early modern migrant women teachers fit well into the category of marginalized subaltern actors, being simultaneously subordinated and instrumental in reproducing the power system of which the nobility was the backbone. Cf. Raja Swamy, “Subaltern Studies,” in Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia, ed. R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms (Los Angeles, 2013), 831–34.

6 Cf. Ivo Cerman, “La noblesse de Bohême dans l'Europe française. L’énigme du français nobiliaire,” in Le rayonnement français en Europe centrale: Du xviie siècle à nos jours, ed. Olivier Chaline, Jaroslaw Dumanowski, and Michel Figeac (Pessac, 2009), 365–85. The reasons for this cultural transfer more related to the Habsburg monarchy are summarized, for example, in Veronika Hyden-Hanscho, Reisende, Migrante, Kulturmanager. Mittlerpersönlichkeiten zwischen Frankreich und dem Wiener Hof, 16301730 (Stuttgart, 2013), 17.

7 On the role of French as a lingua franca, see Peter Burke, Languages and Communities in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2004), 85–88.

8 For Central Europe, see the general overview by Irene Hardach-Pinke, Die Gouvernante, Geschichte eines Frauenberufs (Frankfurt, 1993); and more recently, Hardach-Pinke, Irene, “Intercultural Education by Governesses (Seventeenth to Twentieth Century),” Paedagogica Historica 46, no. 6 (2010): 715–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On governesses in service to the nobility in Great Britain at approximately the same time, most of whom were the daughters of Anglican ministers, see Sophie Loussouarn, “Governesses of the Royal Family and the Nobility in Great Britain, 1750–1815,” in The Invisible Woman: Aspects of Women's Work in Eighteenth-Century Britain, ed. Isabelle Baudino, Jacques Carre, and Marie-Cecilie Revauger (London, 2016), 47–55. On governesses in Wallachia at a slightly later date, see the very recent work by Roman, Nicoleta, “Educating the Other: Foreign Governesses in Wallachia in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century,” Aspasia 14, no. 1 (2020): 37–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 See Kühn, “Die Gräfin, die Gouvernante,” 68–69.

10 For the earlier state of research, see especially Milena Lenderová, “Sociální a kulturní funkce francouzštiny ve společnosti českých zemí v období ‘mezi časy,’” in Post tenebras spero lucem. Duchovní tvář českého a moravského osvícenství, ed. Jaroslav Lorman and Daniela Tinková (Prague, 2009), 236–48.

11 On the role of education in the perpetuation of social hierarchies and privileges, see the classic studies: Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron, The Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (London, 1990); and Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Cambridge, 1996). Bourdieu's concepts have been previously utilized and adapted to research on early modern high nobility in Bohemia by Petr Maťa, Svět české aristokracie 1500–1700 (Prague, 2004).

12 See Pierre-Claude Nivelle de la Chaussée, La Gouvernante. Comédie nouvelle. En cinq actes, en vers (Paris, 1747); and Pierre-Claude Nivelle de la Chaussée, La Gouvernante. Comedie en cinq actes (Vienna, 1752).

13 Cf. the entries for Franz Felix Brixi, Johann Joseph Brunian, and Johann Joseph Kurz, respectively, in Alena Jakubcová and Matthias J. Pernerstorfer et al., Theater in Böhmen, Mähren und Schlesien. Von den Anfängen bis zum Ausgang des 18. Jahrhunderts. Ein Lexikon (Vienna, 2013), 73–75, 77–81, 373–77.

14 See the Dresdner version, Die Gubernante, ein ganz neues auf französische Art eingerichtetes divertissement welches im Singen und Tanzen bestehet ([Dresden], 1761) and the exemplar from Brno, Die Gouvernante, eine ganz neue opera comique mit einem pantomimischen ballet (Brno, 1763). I could not access the Prague libretto cited in Alena Jakubcová and Matthias J. Pernerstorfer et al., Theater in Böhmen, 75.

15 On both fictional and factual governesses as potentially liminal and transgressive figures in the context of the British research tradition, see the chapter “French Governesses,” in Marcus Tomalin, The French Language and British Literature, 1756–1830 (London, 2016), 116–39.

16 Étienne-Francois Avisse, La Gouvernante, Comedie en trois actes en vers (Paris, 1738).

17 Étienne-Francois Avisse, La Gouvernante. Comedie en Verse et Trois Actes (Vienna, 1765).

18 See Kettering, Sharon, “The Household Service of Early Modern French Noble Women,” French Historical Studies 20, no. 1 (1997): 55–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

19 Leopold Huber, Die Neuenjahrsgeschenke, ein Lustspiel für Kinder (Vienna, 1789), quote at pp. 29–30. On Leopold Huber, see the brief biography at http://lithes.uni-graz.at/maezene-pdfs/bio_huber.pdf (accessed 4 Feb. 2020).

20 For a brief summary, see Christian d'Elvert, Zur österreischischen Finanz-Geschichte (Brno, 1881), 605.

21 Discussions about the definitions, interpretational possibilities, and limits of egodocuments have been plentiful since the late 1950s, particularly in the Dutch and German historiographies. More recently, see the thematic issue: German History 28, no. 3 (Sept. 2010).

22 See the letters patent from 6 June 1759 and subsequent letters patent on the inheritance tax. Národní archiv, Prague, Sbírka patentů, letters patent nos. 1593, 1598, 1607, 1608, 1628, 1691, and 1706.

23 Moravský zemský archiv, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12, Colomba Bouquenet's inheritance papers. While the eighteenth-century historical records I work with refer to the family name as Chorinský, which became the dominant form, the Moravian Land Archives, which houses the family archival fonds, employs the older version Chorynský in reference to the family estate Choryně in eastern Moravia. I have decided to respect this double usage according to these principles so that readers can identify both the family archival fonds and scholarly literature in their searches. I also did not want to change the family name when citing archival records. The form Chorynský appears only in the footnotes.

24 Cf. Hardach-Pinke, Intercultural Education by Governesses, 719.

25 Národní archiv, Prague, fond Komise pro dědickou daň 1763–1789, 1795–1840 (1846), sign. 14. XII, box 36, inv. 1617, Antonie de l'Espiliez's papers regarding inheritance tax exemption.

26 Archiv hlavního města Prahy, Sbírka matrik, sign. JIL Z4, matrika zemřelých 1775–1779, fol. 4.

27 Státní oblastní archiv Plzeň, Sbírka matrik západních Čech, sign. Kotouň 08, římskokatolická matrika zemřelých (1784–1817), 60.

28 Peter Burke, Exiles and Expatriates in the History of Knowledge, 1500–2000 (Waltham, MA, 2017), 78.

29 “The spread of French throughout Europe in the seventeenth century, like the spread of English throughout the world today, discouraged the exiles from learning the language of their host country, whether it was German, Dutch, or English.” Burke, Exiles and Expatriates, 76–77.

30 Státní oblastní archiv Plzeň, fond Velkostatek Oselce, box 35, papers of the deceased Marguerite Trognon, uninventoried. The death register entry also confirms her support of local community members, namely “Armeninstitut” inmates.

31 See Hyden-Hanscho, Reisende, Migrante, Kulturmanager, 340–78.

32 See a letter from 7 Feb. 1777 and a letter extract from 21 Mar. 1777. Moravský zemský archiv, Brno, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12.

33 See Christiane Timmerman, Maria Lucinda Fonseca, Lore Van Praag, and Sónia Pereira, “Introduction,” in Gender and Migration: A Gender-Sensitive Approach to Migration Dynamics, ed. Christiane Timmerman, Maria Lucinda Fonseca, Lore Van Praag, and Sónia Pereira (Leuven, 2018), 7.

34 See Ivo Cerman, Habsburgischer Adel und Aufklärung. Bildungsverhalten des Wiener Hofadels im achtzehnten Jahrhundert (Stuttgart, 2010), 357–65. I wish to thank Ivo Cerman for kindly sharing his text with me. Unfortunately, the Regional Museum in Mikulov in south Moravia considers the manuscript of a governess instruction by Marie Christine of Dietrichstein to have been lost from its collections and it does not possess a copy.

35 See Cerman, Habsburgischer Adel und Aufklärung, 362–65.

36 Veronika Čapská and Veronika Marková, eds., Gabriela Sobková z Kornic, provdaná ze Spens-Booden. Deníkové rodinné záznamy (1785–1808), (Prague, 2009).

37 See Hardach-Pinke, “Intercultural Education,” 721.

38 See “Den 1ten Dezember 1805 kam die Freile Franzl Falkenstein zu unsern Töchtern, als Gouvernante; und den 10 September 1806 gieng sie fort; nach Ratibor.” Čapská and Marková, eds., Gabriela Sobková, 166.

39 See “Den 9ten September 1806 ist die Gouvernante von Vienne Freile Jeanette Satur zu uns gekommen. Auch denselben Tag der Hofmeister Pater Joseph Kaul aus dem Preußischen; welcher wieder abgieng, weil ihm hier in Katschitz die Luft nicht anschlug den 14ten Februar 1808 und die Freile Satur gieng ab den 16ten März 1808.” Čapská and Marková, eds., Gabriela Sobková, 168.

40 See “Den 17ten März [1]808 trat ich das Amt als Gouvernante bei meinen Mädl an; Zoë u[n]d Gabrielle; Gott helfe mir, dass ich sie zu unserer Freude erziehe.” Čapská and Marková, eds., Gabriela Sobková, 174.

41 On the Notre Dame educational practices in this context cf., for example, Veronika Čapská, “Between Revival and Uncertainty–Female Religious Life in Central Europe in the Long Eighteenth Century,” in Between Revival and Uncertainty. Monastic and Secular Female Communities in Central Europe in the Long Eighteenth Century, ed. Veronika Čapská, Ellinor Forster, Janine Maegraith, and Christine Schneider (Opava, 2012), 22–24.

42 See Čapská and Marková, eds., Gabriela Sobková, 62 and 103–6.

43 In the context of the history of work, Maria Agren characterizes early modern marriage as a privilege that conferred certain benefits (such as access to resources and authority) and was not available to everybody. See Maria Agren, “Conclusion,” in Making a Living, Making a Difference: Gender and Work in Early Modern European Society (Oxford, 2017), 213–15.

44 See Ivo Cerman, Chotkové. Příběh úřednické šlechty (Prague, 2008), 65.

45 See Pils, Susanne Claudine, “Gender/Spiel/Räume. Zur Konstruktion weiblicher und männlicher Rollen in der frühen Neuzeit,” Opera historica 11 (2006): 455Google Scholar.

46 See Deborah Simonton, A History of European Women's Work: 1700 to the Present (New York, 2003), 65: “Many also needed the accommodation which governessing provided. Virtually no training existed, the only requisite qualities being literacy and some gentility.”

47 Státní oblastní archiv Plzeň, fond Velkostatek Oselce, box 35, papers of the deceased Marguerite Trognon.

48 “Für das mir von meiner Jugend an, stätts werkthätig erwiesene Attachement, Ergebenheit, und Zuneigung erkenntlich zu bezeigen und dieselbe einigermassen dafür zu belohnen.” Státní oblastní archiv Plzeň, fond Velkostatek Oselce, box 35, papers of the deceased Marguerite Trognon, instruction on behalf of Marguerite Trognon, Prague, 16 Oct. 1802.

49 Cf. an undated draft of the letter of authorization for Ferdinand Gemel von Flischbach. Státní oblastní archiv Plzeň, fond Velkostatek Oselce, box 35, papers of the deceased Marguerite Trognon.

50 Státní oblastní archiv Plzeň, fond Velkostatek Oselce, box 35, papers of the deceased Marguerite Trognon.

51 Ibid.

52 This expression of gratitude is formulated in French and German as follows: “toutes Votre Illustres Familles ont beaucoup contribuez a me rendre la vie douce,” and “ihre ganze würdige Familie haben viel beigetragen um mir das Leben zu versüssen.” Ibid.

53 Ibid.

54 Národní archiv, Prague, fond Komise pro dědickou daň 1763–1789, 1795–1840 (1846), sign. 14. XII, box 36, inv. 1617, papers of Antonie de l'Espiliez regarding inheritance tax exemption.

55 Moravský zemský archiv, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12, Inventarium.

56 Moravský zemský archiv, Brno, Sbírka matrik, sign. 5938, matrika zemřelých Veselí nad Moravou (1714–1784), 545.

57 Moravský zemský archiv, Brno, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12.

58 Moravský zemský archiv, Brno, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12, the receipt dated 20 July 1777.

59 Moravský zemský archiv, Brno, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12, Inventarium.

60 On this technique, see Burga Krüll and Ulla Neumayer, “Perlen und Edelsteine im 17. Jahrhundert,” in Liselotte von der Pfalz: Madame am Hofe des Sonnenkönigs, ed. Hélène Alexander Adda and Sigrun Paas (Heidelberg, 1996), 200.

61 See, for example, Lubomír Slavíček, “‘Mit solchen Männern, wie Sie sind, haben Sr Excellenz mein Hochgräfl: gnädiger Herr Principal gerne zu thun.’ Hrabě Ignác Dominik Chorynský z Ledské a jeho umělci František Antonín Sebastini, Ignác Raab, František Vavřinec Korompay, Ondřej Schweigl, David Roentgen et alii,” Opuscula Historiae Artium 62 (2013): 180–211.

62 “Graf Sprinzenstein seine beiden kleine Söhne; Baron Luzello, Baron Franz Beretzko; Herr von Schmidt; und Herr Sommer und der Kanzelist von der Graf Sprinzenstein; an Frauenzimmer, waren die beiden Comtessen, Nandl, und Jenny Chorinsky; und Freile Claire von Toepffer.” Čapská and Marková, eds., Gabriela Sobková, 130–33.

63 Moravský zemský archiv, Brno, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12, Inventarium. For the book, see the anonymously authored La journee chretienne de demoiselles pensionnaires de la Visitation S. Marie de Vienne (Vienna, 1747).

64 On the Francophone convent schools in the Habsburg monarchy, see, for example, Čapská, Between Revival and Uncertainty, 20–24.

65 The National Library in Prague owns one exemplar (sign. 36 D 000304) and the Moravian Land Library in Brno two exemplars (sign. ST 1251.851 and ST1 0651.681).

66 See Moravský zemský archiv, Brno, fond Rodinný archiv Chorynských (G 144), inv. 82, box 12; Zemský archiv v Opavě, fond Velkostatek Hošťálkovy, inv. 69, sign. 26, list of books.

67 On the composition of contemporary noble libraries and for broader contextualization of Colomba Bouquenet's book collection, see the chapter by Veronika Čapská, “Šlechtična na venkovském sídle, knihy a sentimentální imaginace v pozdním osvícenství,” in Gabriela Sobková, ed. Čapská and Marková, 19–62.

68 On the Enlightenment search for new viable foundations of morality in the context of Bohemian lands, see Ivo Cerman, Rita Krueger, and Susan Reynolds, eds., The Enlightenment in Bohemia: Religion, Morality and Multiculturalism (Oxford, 2011).

69 See the diary edition and accompanying studies in Čapská and Marková, eds., Gabriela Sobková.

70 For example, widowed noble woman Zuzana Černínová temporarily withdrew her younger son Herman from the Jesuit college in the Prague New Town in 1646 due to the epidemics, much to the discontent of the Jesuits. See Zdeněk Kalista, ed., Korespondence Zuzany Černínové z Harasova s jejím synem Humprechtem Janem Černínem z Chudenic (Prague, 1941), 140. Convent education could inspire noble girls to embrace the idea of taking a veil, contrary to their parents’ plans or family strategies. This was, for example, the case of both daughters of Franz Anton Count Sporck, who lacked a male heir. He tolerated the wish of his older daughter, Maria Eleonora, to enter a convent but forced his younger daughter, Anna Katharina, to enter marriage against her will. See, for example, Veronika Čapská, “A Publishing Project of Her Own − Anna Katharina Swéerts-Sporck as a Patroness of the Servite Order and a Promoter of Devotional Literature,” Cornova 1, no. 1 (2011): 67–80.

71 See Cerman, Habsburgischer Adel und Aufklärung, 357–65.

72 See Hardach-Pinke, Intercultural Education by Governesses, 720.

73 On the concept of moral panic, cf. for example, Sean P. Hier, ed., Moral Panic and the Politics of Anxiety (New York, 2011); and Garland, David, “On the Concept of Moral Panic,” Crime Media Culture 4, no. 1 (2008): 9–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

74 See Hegele, Arden, “‘So she has been educated by a vulgar, silly, conceited French governess!' Social Anxieties, Satirical Portraits, and the Eighteenth-Century French Instructor,” Gender and Education 23, no. 3 (2011): 331–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Tomalin, Marcus, “‘A Domestic Mischief': French Governesses in British Literature, 1796–1832,” The Review of English Studies 62, no. 252 (2011): 441–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

75 See also Ivo Cerman, chapter 8, “Aristocratic Francophone Literature in Bohemia,” in European Francophonie: The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language, ed. Vladislav Rjéoutski, Gesine Argent, and Derek Offord (Oxford, 2014), 228.

76 “Indessen würde sich doch vieles von den hier geäusserten Grundsätzen, auch auf die Erziehung der Schönen anwenden lassen, wenn man sich entschliessen könnte, gewissen Vorurtheilen zu entsagen, die weil man ihnen solange gefolgt ist, dadurch beynahe Gesetze geworden sind.” Franz Joseph Kinsky, Erinnerung über einen wichtigen Gegenstand von einem Böhmen (Prague, 1773), 276–77.

77 See for example David F. Good, Margarete Grandner, and Mary Jo Maynes, eds., Austrian Women in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives (New York, 1996), 42; Helmut Engelbrecht, Geschichte des österreichischen Bildungswesens: Erziehung und Unterricht auf dem Boden Österreichs, vol. 3, Von der frühen Aufklärung bis zum Vormärz (Vienna, 1984), 234.

78 Christoph Meiners and Ludwig Timotheus von Spittler, Göttingisches historisches Magazin (Hannover, 1790), 728.

79 Cf. Lenderová, “Sociální a kulturní funkce francouzštiny,” 242–45.

80 See Zdeňka Stoklásková, “Imigranti v Rakousku na konci 18. století,” in Mezi časy… Kultura a umění v českých zemích kolem r. 1800, ed. Zdeněk Hojda and Roman Prahl (Prague, 2000), 342, 343, 352. I wish to thank Zdeňka Stoklásková for having kindly shared her article with me.

81 Ibid., 343–44.

82 Zdeňka Stoklásková, for example, analyzed the case of a French-speaking newcomer, Abbé Peter Augustin Holley, for whom Johann Count Larisch von Männich received permission, which allowed the priest to stay at Larish estates in Austrian Silesia although he could not formally engage in teaching, upbringing, or pastoral care. See ibid., 349–50, 351–53.

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