Growing Up Du Barry | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Growing Up Du Barry

February 16, 2009

Growing Up Du Barry

What was childhood like for the fun and flirty Madame Du Barry?

As a child she was enrolled at the Couvent de Sainte-Aure, where she lived and was educated. Each year about 40 students were enrolled and admission cost between 250 - 300 livres/yr. Some ladies would enroll for an escape or retreat, and they paid 500 livres/yr.

The school was run by 53 nuns, and the ran a tight ship. For starters, pupils were not permitted to play, goof around or basically have fun. If you were caught laughing loudly, you would be in big trouble!

Everyday the students would wake at 5am, get dressed and prepare for mass at 7am. The uniform was simple, white clothing, an unstarched veil, simple leather shoes, and a black hood. Underneath the hood they would wear a scratchy wool headband on their forehead. By 9pm it was time for bed again, and the cycle would continue.

The education provided was quite good, courses included reading, writing, needle work, house cleaning, and household management. In fact Du Barry, who was often mocked for being uneducated, had a very decent education for women of the time. She was horrible at spelling, but books she enjoyed included the writings of Cicero and Demosthenes!


  1. Thanks for bringing up the fact that Madame du Barry was not as ignorant as people like to think.

  2. Yes I was led to believe she came from the streets! But I'm sure you were planning on addressing that in a future post.

  3. oui oui! "Growing Up Du Barry" is going to be a series of fun posts on the 'rumor/scandal' prone lady!

  4. Well as we all know, she was very much disliked by Marie Antoinette, or more like pre-judged.

    By the way Lauren, I wanted to let you know that I finished the fictional novel called Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette. It's a very good book, easy read, but sad. It talked a lot about her lover Count Fersen. The next one on my book to read is about her daughter Marie Therese. Do post something about her when you have time. Merci!
    -marie from maries marche

  5. "If you were caught laughing loudly, you would be in big trouble!" That sounds like my job, same with the getting up at 5 thing.

    But seriously, wow she did have a good education. Would she have really read Cicero or was it more like school nowadays where theoretically you're supposed to have read Cicero, but in reality you just glanced at it? I'm not being rhetorical, by the way, I'm honestly wondering! At any rate, lucky her for having such an opportunity!

  6. Both texts were translated to French by the 18th century, so I assume there is a good chance she did actually enjoy those readings more than the others presented @ school. They both provide an interesting way of thought.

    I also think the nuns would have strictly prohibited spark notes :o)

    Her fav was Shakespeare though. (in French of course!)

  7. I've just awarded you and Heather the Excessively Diverting Award. And thanks for this post, I too thought that Madame du Barry came from teh streets.

  8. wow I"m so so so SO glad I caught on to this is amazing..and thanks for the clarification that Du Barry was educated...that makes sense now..she was smart to say the least ^_^

  9. Hi Belle, Glad you are here! isn't du barry fascinating!