Factlet first posted on January 11, 2010
In her Mémoires, the Grande Mademoiselle asserted that shortly after the wedding of Isabelle d'Alençon and Louis-Joseph de Lorraine Duke of Guise. May 15, 1667, Mlle de Guise dismissed a sister and brother who had long been in the bride's household:
"Trois ou quatre mois après qu'elle fut mariée, on lui chassa une femme de chambre qu'elle aimoit fort et à qui elle étout accoutumée, l'ayant eue depuis qu'elle étoit au monde; on lui ôta son écuyer et son secretaire, qui étoit frère de cette femme. Je crois que c'étoit par grandeur, parce que dans les pays étrangers on chasse les Français d'ordinaire." (Mlle de Montpensier, Mémoires, ed. Chéruel, vol. IV, p. 74)
During my research in the Minutier Central des Notaires, I came upon documents that not only confirm the Grande Mademoiselle's assertion, but that reveal who these domestics were and how their dismissal was conducted.
The records of the guardianship of the Orléans princesses preserved at the Arsenal in Paris show that as early as 1652, the "demoiselle Fioravanty" had been Mademoiselle d'Alençon's femme de chambre; she was paid 660 livres a year (ms 4212, fol. 6v, 66ff). Another document in that collection reveals her full name: she was Marie de Fioravanty, wife of André Langlois, a gentilhomme of Isabelle d'Alençon's father, Gaston Duke of Orléans. (Widowed by the early 1660s, she remarried and became the "épouse non-commune en biens de Messire Adrien de Monceau d'Auxy, chevalier, marquis d'Hanoville") (ms. 6525, fol. 55). Marie outlived Princess Isabelle and was still alive in 1700 (ms. 6525, fol. 127).
Acts preserved in the Minutier Central des Notaires of Paris shed some light on the conditions under which Mlle de Guise dismissed Marie de Fioravanti and her brother, whose first names turns out to have been Charles and who had indeed been Isabelle's secretary: "Charles Fioravanty, secrétaire des commandements de S.A.R. Madame duchesse de Guise, demeurant faubourg Saint Germain, rue de Tourrois, paroisse Saint Sulpice." On November 15, 1667, six months to the day after Isabelle's wedding to the Duke of Guise (not the "three or four months" recalled by the Grande Mademoiselle) Charles Fioravanty surrendered this "charge" to Mlle de Guise in return for a payment of 6000 livres. Mlle de Guise was authorized to give the position to anyone she pleased (MC, LXXV, 137). She paid him 2000 livres that day and promised to pay the remaining 4000 livres over the next few years. (A quittance confirms that the 6000 livres were paid in full on March 20, 1671, XCI, 374).
I did not find a similar act for Marie Fioravanty.
The Grande Mademoiselle's wording is slightly ambiguous and could be taken to mean that Charles Fioravanty was both Mme de Guise's écuyer and her secretary. That proves not to have been the case. Shortly before dismissing Fioravanty, Mlle de Guise obtained the resignation of Alexandre-Emmanuel de Condren, seigneur de Largny, Mme de Guise's écuyer. (MC, LXXV, 137, October 20, 1667).
A letter that young Mme de Guise sent to Rome a few months after Charles Fioravanty's dismissal (January 13, 1668), suggests that the ties that bound the two Fioravantys to the House of Orléans were long-standing and rather broad. Indeed, they clearly stretched, via Florence, all the way to Rome. Isabelle recommends to the Pope "le sieur de Fioravanti, c'est un gentilhomme originaire de Toscane qui a esté très longtemps employé à Rome par feu Monsieur [Gaston d'Orléans]" (Vatican, AVS, Principi 92). This Rome-based Tuscan clearly was not her erstwhile écuyer.