The East India companies started trading in the 17th century and by the beginning of the 18th century Europe was fascinated by all things from the orient. European artists started to go to the Orient and paint watercolours and publish books of hand-coloured aquatints, which enabled people to see for the first time the man-made structures as well as the flora and fauna and landscapes of the East. Around 1700 the first wallpapers were bought back from China by the East India Company and soon became known as ‘India’ papers.
Between then and the early 19th century most of the crowned heads of Europe had created their own Chinese interiors to house the collections of Far Eastern artefacts brought back by the East India Company and other traders and adventurers. Drottningholm, The Brighton Pavilion, Sans Souci, Schloss Worlitz, Charlottenburg and Oranienbaum are some of the palaces where you can still see these wonderful papers.
Using the same techniques as in the 18th Century, de Gournay is continuing this tradition of using Chinoiserie that reached its height around 1760 when Thomas Chippendale purchased Chinese wallpapers for the interior of Nostell Priory in the North of England.
tangentially related to Milady, really, and triggered by something I saw in a
post about how Milady’s only options as a 17th century woman would
be menial jobs, prostitution or marriage. (But then, the show has been written
by people who assume that “slave trader” was a reasonable option for a woman from Paris and that “assassin” was a job description on the payroll of
the queen’s household, so.)
Milady was a 17th century woman and not a fictional character written by 21st century writers in a very much non-17th century setting, she
would have had plenty of choices what to do with her life. If the show had not been
written by idiots, and if the writers had not been perpetuating the stereotype
that “historical accuracy” means that women never had normal jobs and never
contributed to societal and economic developments before the Suffragette
movement rolled along.
let’s say “menial jobs” are beneath Milady, such as seamstress, embroider,
lace-maker, weaver (NB, not all of France is Paris; Tours was the centre of the
silk industry, go to Tours, you stupid woman, and get a job there), milliner, shopkeeper,
landlady of an inn/hotel, baker/confectioner, a merchantess running her own
business (marry a merchant, off him after the wedding, you great big
assassin, and inherit his business), etc.
assume that Milady is intelligent (as most people appear to see her), ambitious,
capable, and a quick learner. She was a count’s wife and the king’s mistress,
so she must have some useful social and marketable skills. If there was a
job she wanted, what should have stopped her?
Idiotic writing. And the idiotic belief that Women In The Past didn’t have
Copiously quoted from the “Encyclopedia
of Women in the Renaissance”:
legacy of a misogyny deeply embedded in classical and medieval literature,
fifteenth-century humanism provided a gateway for women into the literary and
cultural mainstream. The new humanist curriculum introduced a roster of studies
that appealed to both women and men. The new humanist curriculum produced women
who published works in every literary genre, served unofficially as their
husbands’ foreign ministers, acted as regents and coregents of their states, directed
their children’s educations, practiced medicine, wrote treatises on every
branch of knowledge, and became abbesses and nuns who taught in convent
[…] In the
cities and the courts, a few women worked as painters, miniaturists, composers,
musicians, singers, and printers. Many such women worked in the ateliers and
shops of their fathers. Other women plied their trades as artists and composers
under the auspices of a convent.
this? Female professions that go beyond “wife”, “sex worker” or “assassin”? Who
would’ve thought it!
and sexism in the professional sphere does not mean that women didn’t have
jobs. It means that their work was not as highly valued and highly paid as men’s,
and that their contributions often weren’t recorded.
jobs are beneath her, have some more glamorous ones:
Because there was no formal training in alchemy in universities, guilds, or colleges,
women could access alchemical knowledge in the same way that most men did: by
cobbling together an alchemical education from a few vernacular texts, by
learning techniques from other practitioners, or perhaps by buying a recipe
from another peddler of alchemical secrets. Women could also draw on their
experience with traditional activities that utilized similar techniques, such
as distilling water and cooking. Marie Meurdrac’s “Accessible and Easy Chemistry
for Women” was published in 1666.
Nun (in a
convent of her choice) – Convents provided protection for women, as well as an
education, albeit limited, and they offered nuns a certain autonomy of action
not possible for most women in the secular world. Their sphere of action was
not limited to the private world of their community, since convent women lived
off income from properties they owned, money they lent, and the sale of produce
and handicrafts. Convent education and freedom from family responsibilities
offered nuns the opportunity to study and to write. In many convents a recorder
was appointed to keep account books or to document the history of their
foundation and the events of their lives. […] Special convents were founded for
reformed prostitutes and for poor girls in danger of turning to such a life. Beginning
in the early sixteenth century new orders were founded that were dedicated to
educating young women outside convent walls;
Women had an honored place in literary society by the end of the sixteenth century.
A lineage of writers and translators, associated with virtuous household
academies and represented as paragons of “learned virtue,” had proved to the
intellectual elite that education made women not domestic liabilities but
instead positive contributors to family honor and literary culture.
(because women who ran salons were not habitually burnt at the stake OMG and
Milady actually proved in-universe that she could move around in a salon
environment) - In literary contexts, the term “salon” is most often associated
with the women of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in France,
such as Catherine de Vivonne (1588–1665), the marquise de Rambouillet, renowned
for her chambre bleue, her salon for the intellectuals and courtiers who
frequented the Hôtel de Rambouillet, and Madeleine de Scudéry (1607–1701),
famous for her samedis, or the Saturday meetings of her salon circle, and also
author or the longest novel ever published (Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus).
cosmetics, perfume maker - Although the craft of cosmetic enhancement was known
to women from the ancient times, it is in the Renaissance that its use became
increasingly widespread. Perfumes were an expensive and highly sought-after
commodity; create a good perfume recipe and off you go.
professional - Women made important contributions to medical practice and
theory during the Renaissance in Europe. Their work encompassed a broad range
of areas of medical expertise, from nutrition and hygiene to gynecology and
obstetrics. Moreover, outside of the health care fields, which were seen as
“women’s domain,” they also participated in spheres where both men and women
worked as medical providers, such as in surgery and optometry.
In the early seventeenth century,
the celebrated surgeon and midwife Maria Colinetia, the wife of a surgeon, traveled
throughout Germany demonstrating procedures and is credited with the technique of
removing iron splinters from the eye with a magnet. Mary Trye, who trained
under her father, published in 1675 one of the first medical manuals for women,
her “Medicatrix, or the Woman-Physician”.
France, hospital governance transferred from ecclesiastical authorities to lay
municipal administrators, but the everyday health care work of women continued
to underpin medical services. In some towns, the nuns remained the nursing
personnel, but in other cities they were replaced by laywomen. In France, the
first licensing regulations were established for Parisian midwives in 1560.
[Contraception methods included] medical techniques such as inserting vaginal pessaries
of rue and ground lily root combined with castoreum, administering douches
designed to cool the womb, and using barrier methods.
- A large number of laywomen were experts in the concoction of medical
remedies. Like learned physicians, women used their medications to treat a wide
variety of illnesses, including dysentery, ague, fevers, headaches, toothaches,
Printer - For
centuries, scholars have placed women at the margins of the early modern book
industry, this in sharp contrast to their contributions as illuminators and
scribes in late medieval manuscript production. Knowledge of women’s roles in
the early book industry is hampered by scattered and incomplete sources. Chief
among these are the books themselves. Even when she published a book, only
rarely would a woman sign her name in the colophon.
business - even that of a modest typographer - was not usually limited to one
shop but rather included multiple shops (for the storage of supplies or
purposes of accounting) attached to his place of residence. It was a printing
house where business and family often overlapped. Thus, though she might be
barred from the printing shop itself, the wife or daughter of a printer could learn
other facets of his business, such as bookkeeping, binding books, and preparing
paper for printing. Marry a printer, you great accomplished seductress, off him after the wedding, and inherit his business, sorted!
Theatre actress, manager, playwright - European women of the fifteenth through early seventeenth
centuries participated in both public and private theatrical activities not
only as audience members, but also as playwrights, translators, actresses, patrons,
shareholders, employees of theaters, and leaders of acting troupes.
professional French actresses began to appear at the end of the sixteenth century
in conjunction with the famous actor Valleran le Conte and his acting troupe. By
the latter part of the seventeenth century, Frenchwomen performed regularly both
at court and in the public theaters. They also served as theater professionals
of another kind: as costumers, ushers, and box office managers. More important,
talented actresses earned a share or quarter share in companies and therefore
gained a voice and a percentage of the profit.
Translator (Milady presumably speaks English) - The importance of translation in the Renaissance cannot be
overestimated. It brought the newly discovered classical texts to a wider
audience; it helped circulate the currents of religious debate throughout the
Reformation and Counter-Reformation; and it made vernacular works available to
a new readership.
approximately one hundred early modern French women writers whose works we know,
over 10 percent published translations of ancient or modern vernacular texts,
either in manuscript or printed editions. […] Although they were excluded from
the colleges, universities, and academies, where translation was a standard
part of the curriculum, the works of these women translators reflect the
various approaches to translation current in Renaissance France. Such women
writers as Anne de Graville, Marie de Cotteblanche, Claudine Scève, Anne de
Marquets, Marguerite de Cambis, and Marie de Romieu translated popular Italian
and English works into French.
brought to you by my ongoing irritation with showrunners and audiences alike
who persistently claim that the only jobs available to Women In The Past were “wife”,
“domestic servant” or “fallen woman”. Not every “Past” is set in the Jane
Austen pastoral English province or Dickensian Victorian London.
dedicated to Marie de Gournay (1565–1645), professional writer in Paris, moral
philosopher, polemicist for the equality of women, novelist, philologist, and husbandless all her life.