Daughters of the King
French men are marrying Indian women. It will have to be stopped. Wives will have to be found. French wives for French men. And so the call goes out to all the unfortunates in France. Women without homes, without family, poor women, women alone. Women with no dowries to buy a husband. Becomes a Fille du Roi, a Daughter of the King. Each woman considers her options. The hardships she doesn’t know are preferable to the ones she knows too well. As a Daughter of the King, she will have a dowry, payable to her husband at the time of marriage. She will have a home, the possibility of children, a place in the community. Women come from Ile de France, from Normandy, 800 women in ten years. Les Filles du Roi.
Une Fille du Roi, 1668
Marie Mazol is thirty three years old when she becomes a Daughter of the King. She will bring 300 livres to her marriage to Antoine Roy-Desjardins. She will have money for her own use as well, for expenses, they promise her. She thought it would go further, but what she takes with her are a coffer, a cap, a taffeta handkerchief, a shoe ribbon, a hundred needles, a comb, a pair of stockings, a pair of gloves, a pair of scissors, two knives, a thousand pins, a bonnet, and four laces. Thus prepared, she faces marriage to a man she doesn’t know, in a country she’s never seen.
Les Filles du Roi—Afterwards
The Daughters of the King become wives. But French and Indian keep marrying. Their descendants will say, “Scratch a Frenchman, find an Indian.”
Cheryl Savageau, “Daughters of the King” from Mother/Land. Copyright © 2006 by Cheryl Savageau. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.
Source: Mother/Land (Salt Publishing, 2006)
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Poet Cheryl Savageau b. 1950
POET’S REGION U.S., New England