The Poet's Princess

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Sweet and lovely

On the August 28th 1619 in the castle of Vincennes, the beautiful Charlotte de Montmorency gives birth to Anne Geneviève de Bourbon. The child’s father is Henri II de Bourbon-Condé, First Prince of Royal Blood. Charlotte de Montmorency takes her daughter early to the Hôtel de Rambouillet to cultivate her mind and develop her liking for genuine taste. The little Anne participates graciously in the pleasurable divertissements where play on words replaces all other games, more appropriate to her age. Who could blame her if she regards words as a fire-work display rather than a tool bearing a meaning? Is it her fault that she prefers listening to read and accepts all she hears without pondering over it? The light of this display of inspiration is too bright for a child’s eyes to see the source of its sparkle.

Madame de Motteville, this pure intellectual who despised any human weakness, sentiments included, was severe in her judgement on the influence of the Hôtel de Rambouillet upon Anne de Bourbon, as related in her “Memoirs”:

“Her absorption in the applause of the world that, as a rule, admires the seductive qualities of persons of high birth, deprived Anne de Bourbon of any chance for becoming involved in reading and of giving thus her mind a knowledge deep enough to be called education. She was by nature partial to certain emotions which she deemed infallible. This prevented her from distinguishing the true from the fake. Too much affectation influenced her manner of talking and of acting, the beauty of which consisted in the delicacy of her thoughts and the soundness of her reasoning.”

No other two women could differ as completely: Madame de Motteville who, in order not to risk to lose her sentimental sovereignty, chose to marry, of her own free will, a puny old gentleman of high rank, the President de Motteville and Anne de Bourbon, this shivering heart, forced into the same destiny for political reasons and against her will. Only thanks to the influence of Hôtel de Rambouillet she could survive this affront. The Blue Room turned her into a free woman who heeded her feelings without haggling over the price of a breach of social conventions. It taught her to consider art as the best remedy against any hardship and sorrow. Furthermore, the Hôtel de Rambouillet shaped Anne de Bourbon into the future Queen of the Münster Congress which negotiated in 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia. It made her to a patroness of the arts who inspired her husband with the idea of granting a pension to Jean Chapelain so that he could write his “Virgin” (“La Pucelle”) without worrying about money. Thanks to the Blue Room Anne will be able to enjoy works of art in the days of her glory as in the days of her disgrace. Above all, Anne de Bourbon is indebted to the Blue Room for her “sound judgement”. A fine discernment, even if learnt in play.

It was this “sound judgement” that made her take sides with Voiture against the Court during the “Quarrel of Sonnets” and influenced all the “beau monde” by following her example. Thus, thanks to her, the way for the classical authors of the XVIIth century, was cleared.

In 1652, in the city of Bordeaux, torn apart by the political struggles, during one of the hardest moments for her proud and noble heart, when the war, she was involved in, was lost, and she was betrayed and forsaken by nearly everyone, including her lover, the Duke de La Rochefoucauld, she asked Chapelain to send her the newly published eighth part of “Polexandre”, the novel she ardently wished to read. A gesture worthy of a true “précieuse”.

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