This article analyses 25 harangues or compliments printed in the Mercure de France in the 17th and 18th centuries, upon the occasion of the marriage of foreign princesses to the royal family. The speeches reveal a ritualized pattern of male discourse in which orators used the language of an idealized aristocracy (blood, destiny, virtue, glory, and heroes) to communicate society's deeper values and indicate acceptance of the dominant political system. The speeches were ceremonial acts that reaffirmed relationships of power and submission by elites to an absolute monarchy. Foreign princesses per se played only a secondary role in these ceremonies, although the speeches eulogized the princesses not only for feminine virtue, but also that of the femme forte. Princesses were attributed the character of majesty without a recognized political role. Their function was the produce male progeny to ensure the welfare of the kingdom and the happiness of their subjects.


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pp. 16-29
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