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Saint-Cyr - Was Your Ancestress a Poor but Educated Aristocrat?

St Cyr Silhouette

In 1684, Louis XIV established at Saint-Cyr a school for the daughters of certain impoverished nobility called the Maison Royale de Saint Louis. It educated girls and young women until the Revolution caused its closure in 1793. Lists of the names of the students have been published in book form, but the website of the Departmental Archives of Yvelines, where Saint-Cyr is located, have placed the names on its website. They are given alphabetically in three groups:

  • Certain boarders (pensionnaires)
  • Likely boarders
  • Boarders whose home cannot be determined

It is also possible to view the list by department, colony or country of origin. Thus, one can find the three girls from Quebec, the four from Martinique, the two from Guadeloupe, along with the dozens listed under each department. In all, there were over three thousand boarders at Saint-Cyr during its hundred years or so of existence.

The information to be gained is little but genealogically precious:

  • The full and correct spelling and order of those tricky noble names
  • The place of birth
  • The date of baptism
  • The date of the documents used 
  • The date she left the school

In 1806, Napoleon handed the buildings over to the military and the place became the elitist Ecole spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr. It may be a very sad irony that the military school was exclusively for males until 1983, when women were first admitted, only to have their lives made hell. The true founder, Madame de Maintenon (the king's second wife), would surely have been outraged.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

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