Daughters of the King

By Cheryl Savageau b. 1950 Cheryl Savageau
Les Filles du Roi (1668)

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

Subjects Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Men & Women, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Gender & Sexuality

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Prose Poem

 Cheryl  Savageau

Biography

Of Abenaki and French Canadian heritage, Cheryl Savageau was born in central Massachusetts. She graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and studied writing at the People’s Poets and Writers Workshop in Worcester. She is the author of the poetry collections Home Country (1992), Dirt Road Home: Poems (1995) nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and Mother/Land (2006).
 
Savageau’s poetry retells Abenaki stories, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Men & Women, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Gender & Sexuality

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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