Date of Award

Spring 1993

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1993 Melissa J. Sherman. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Robert DuPlessis


Sherman analyzes the paths to power for women in the French Court. Through a study of four women perceived as influential in the court, Anne d’Autriche, Princess Henriette d’Angleterre, Françoise d'Aubigné, and Ninon de l’Enclos, Sherman examines if women who Court observers at the time claimed were too powerful actually enjoyed some authority over court matters. Using both primary sources such as letters the women wrote and secondary sources including biographies of the individual women, Sherman finds that the women intellectuals at times provoked and manipulated to gain power. Women with titles in the Court received the same scrutiny, but relied on the king for positions and legitimacy. The path to influence for women was as provocateur intellectuals and not through possession of a title in the court.