To what extent were les filles du roi supported by the king and church during and after their voyage to new France?


Les filles du roi were a group of approximately 800 young orphaned women from France who the king sent to new France, to balance the gender of the colony’s population, and to be wives and mothers so they could help to expand the colony. This program of les filles du roi (the daughters of the king) was funded and sponsored by King Louis XIV. He paid for each of their voyages which cost 100 livres each, approximately $1,425.00 today. Among this, each girl received a trousseau also known as a hope chest. These chests were given to young unmarried women to hold clothing, linens and basic necessities for married life. Les filles du roi were provided with: a coiffe (a cap), a bonnet, a taffeta handkerchief, a pair of stockings, a pair of gloves, ribbon, four shoelaces, white thread, 100 needles, 1,000 pins, a comb, a pair of scissors, two knives and two livres in cash. All of this was given to them by the king, but once they were sent off, he had very little to do with the rest of their lives.



In regards of the church, before these women could become a fille du roi, they needed a reference letter from a parish priest.


That was about it as far as support in preparation. During the long three month voyage to New France they had very little, just each other.


Once the girls eventually arrived in New France, they moved into a dorm like space before the process of choosing husbands began. All of the interactions between the filles du roi, and their possible mates were overseen by Jean Talon, and Marie Guyart, later known as Saint Marie of the incarnation. She was an Ursuline nun. (A catholic nun responsible for caring for the sick and teaching girls.) She would later become a huge driving force for the spread of Catholicism in New France.


Once the girls inevitably chose a husband, all marriage procedures were overseen by a priest and witnesses. From that point on they started their new families and any support from the church was indirect.


The main cause of les filles du roi receiving support form the king and church would be because of their social status. Les filles du roi were young, poor, orphaned women who did not immigrate by choice. Without the support of the king, the program wouldn’t have gone through, as the cost of the oversea travel was too much for any of them to be able to afford. The church supported these girls because of their position as well. However the need for females in the new colony was also a huge catalyst for les filles du roi program to be created. The results of the filles du roi program were the success of New France. No matter how successful the male explorers were in their colonization, you can’t raise a nation without women. Les filles du roi were extremely important to the growth and success of a new colony, and to this day many French-Canadians can trace their heritage back to les filles du roi.


As always, when looking at history we can only judge to a certain point, as values and standards at the time were different. During the time of Les filles du roi, the objective was to expand and grow New France’s colony. They succeeded and eventually the program was discontinued in 1673. However while these women did have a choice in who they married, and were provided with financial aid from the king, that isn’t enough to justify it using today’s standards. These girls were between the ages of 12 and 25, and were shipped off for three months to a completely new world for them, to be married off to soldiers and explorers. Les filles du roi had to have multiple children, (even more so because the catholic church doesn’t believe in birth control) and that type of treatment and procedure would not be tolerated today, as women have many more rights than they once did.


In conclusion, Les filles du roi began because of the king, and got their money and possessions from him, however they then moved into the arms of the church until they were married, where they began their new lives.