Have you ever noticed that one day Yolande de Polignac went from comtesse to duchesse? Why the upgrade? Already able to be presented at court, the Queen’s favorite was hardly a du Barry situation. In case you’re new here, we’ll give you the short-short version: Louis XV married his mistress (left) to a comte and then basically had him vanish. [No! For once we’re not letting our north-Jersey mafia show.] Le Comte du Barry just moved off to a castle in the else-wheres of France. Now a countess, the king could present du Barry at court and pork the hell out of her in the Salon de Apollo. [Here’s a neat animated tour of the King’s suite of chambers. Oh and pardon our crassness, we’ve been on vacation. ‘Porking.’ ha!]Was Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, Comtesse of Polignac not already allowed all the Versailles backstage access to her heart’s desire? Her debts were paid off simply so that she and her husband Jules might move to court and do-nothing jobs with astronomical salaries were eventually created for her entire family. Yolande de Polignac was the total alpha of the Queen’s inner circle and everyone knew it. It pissed off almost everyone who wasn’t a Polignac too.
There was one thing the charismatic, lilac-eyed belle of the Queen’s could not enjoy thanks to the strict court etiquette at Versailles. A hang-up so comedically minor, your Blog Hostess is left without snarky upbraid. We know! We’re stunned with shock too. In court, only women with a rank of duchess or higher was allowed to sit in the presence of the Queen. [Does this include during meals? Your Blog Hostess is imagining bowls of soup eaten de pie. Imagine linguini! Oy vey!]
Due to her rank, Marie Antoinette’s former mejor amiga, the Princesse de Lamballe sat next to Marie Antoinette. It most likely irked the hell out of the Comtesse de Polignac that the Princesse enjoyed the opulence of a low folding stool made of wood. CountessYolande had to remain on her feet in what were most certainly painful shoes.
In 1780, for no recorded reason, Yolande’s husband Count Jules was given the title duc de Polignac, thus elevating Yolande to a duchesse while simultaneously lowering her to a stool and further irking the bejesus out of the courtesans and aristocrats of France. Marie Antoinette’s favoritism for the Polignac clan was a major factor in the Queen’s loss of the public’s favor. Regardless, as of 1780 Yolande de Polignac could now take a load off, formally. [Super-fun fact: Prince Rainier III is a direct descendant of the Duc et Duchesse de Polignac.]
We know, we know, it’s sounds like we’re nuts. Can’t say that we blame you. However, we can find no other correlation to explain le Comte de Polignac’s rising in court echelon save that his wife might be able to sit along with the other duchesses, princesses & princesses of the blood. Is it the equivalent of moving from Economy to Economy Plus or Economy Plus to Business Class? Supposedly the stools were the equivalent of crouching on the floor. Lavish! Sounds more like an upgrade from the cargo hold to the bathroom. [Yes, your Blog Hostess is absolutely obsessed with the airline caste system and advancing beyond that shitty Velcro curtain. At five-foot-two, we need that leg room and unlimited champagne. And ass-kissing. Guess We’ve all got a bit of Yolande in us, huh?]Both similes sound weak and rather disappointing in comparison to the luxuries and wild financial gain the Polignacs had seen since the first time Yolande and the Queen met at a ball in 1775. According to legend, Marie Antoinette was immediately dazzled by the Comtesse and invited the Polignacs to take up permanent residence at Versailles. A zip code far pricier than the destitute Count & Countess’ price range, the Queen paid for the family’s move, had Louis pay off all their outstanding debts and set Jules up with an enviable position at court. The Queen installed Countess Polignac up in an apartment near hers, an enviable locale indeed. Do note, regardless of how esteemed Jules de Polignac’s new post was at court, it did not include a new title.
Nor did the title come in conjunction with Yolande’s 1782 appointment as the Gouvernante des Enfants de France, a position so coveted further uproar simmered at court and beyond. The gravitas of this appointment entitled the Duchesse to a 13-room apartment of her own–it technically wasn’t an out-of-bounds gesture but the size of the apartment in a place as overpopulated as Versailles backlashed sharply.
The Petit Hameau was the Queen’s private escape from court and several dignitaries had been turned away, rather rudely considering a Queen’s responsibilities but that didn’t preclude Yolande from her own private cottage in the play-village. And no, receiving your own personal dollhouse didn’t come with a new title either. So the need of a small wooden stool is honestly the only possibly reason. Are we sounding less crazy yet?
Which of the favors from Marie Antoinette would you take?
- the title
- the folding stool (we’ve decided you have to pick one of the two)
- the financial aid
- the coveted job & 13-room suite at the Palace of Versailles
- the cottage in the Petit Hameau?
Can you guess which your Blog Hostess would take?