Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet
French Social Leader
1588 – 1665 A.D.
Marquise de Rambouillet, a French social leader. She was the only daughter of Jean Vivonne, Marquis de Pisani, and of Julia Savelli, a Roman lady of noble family. Born in Rome, it was to her nationality as well as to her early training that she owed her taste for the beautiful in literature and art which later gave rise to the association of her name with all that was elegant and refined in Parisian Society.
After her early marriage to the Marquis de Rambouillet, she began to carry out her project of creating a social circle on lines entirely different to anything she had seen or experienced since her arrival in the French capital.
Henry IV was on the throne, the court was avowedly coarse and corrupt, even among the nobles brutish habits and semi-barbarism were the rule, the women of the period were rough and ill-mannered, and the time was ripe for a strong reaction and regenerating influence.
Madame de Rambouillet now began her work of founding the first of those famous salons which existed in France during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She drew up a new code of behavior, of manners, and of speech, and she encouraged the intellectual appreciation of beauty, and the study of language and letters. Her beautiful house in Paris, the Hôtel de Rambouillet became the resort of the learned and distinguished men and women of the time, and here its mistress received the continual homage which for thirty years her friends bestowed upon her.
The great influence of Madame de Rambouillet lasted almost into the middle of the seventeenth century, when Louis XIV began to inaugurate the glory of his own court and would brook no social rivalry. The period was a long one for any one woman to hold undisputed sway of all that was most exquisite in the high life of the gay capital, and of all the salons of old France there is none other which possesses the glamor, the coloring, the individuality, the beauty and the picturesqueness of that held at the Hôtel de Rambouillet.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.