History's Women: Misc. Articles: The Period of the Renaissance and Following - Diffusion of French Manners - Louis XVI

Louis XVI

French manners and customs, French fashions and way of living, were as extensively diffused in other courts and among the other people of Europe during the reign of Louis XVI. as under any preceding sovereign of France. Among the European countries which were called polished, Portugal was the only one that, during the latter years of the monarchy, adopted neither the manners nor the fashions of the French. In Spain and Italy, on the other hand, both made a greater progress during the last quarter of the eighteenth century than they had done in the foregoing two centuries and a half.

In Germany and the north of Europe, the partiality for French manners, fashions, and language still maintained the ascendancy; though in many parts the inhabitants began to imitate the English. The latter renounced everything that they borrowed from the French, at the very time when the French were seized with the Anglomania.

The English Woman

It was a well known proverb throughout all Europe, even at this time, that England is the paradise of women. The customs of the people of all classes in England, however, were more favorable to the sex than the laws. The English women superintended the education of their children and the domestic economy, with a fidelity that did them honor. They attended to the kitchen, to the cleanliness of the houses and apartments, to the furniture and linen, with a care and assiduity that were equaled in few countries and surpassed in none.

In return, the men relieved them from all the drudgery, not only of rural but also of domestic economy. Persons of the weaker sex were seldom or never obliged to assist in agricultural labors, as on the continent, nor in brewing and baking. Even the milking of cows was performed by men. Hence it is very easy to conceive why the English country girls were upon the whole more beautiful and more blooming than those of the other nations of the north of Europe; and why female servants were able to appear neater than in other countries.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.

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