In what ways were the Filles du Roi a contributing factor to modern day Quebec?
A. Historical Significance
Between 1663 and 1673, around 800 young women, coined the Filles du Roi (or King’s Daughters) moved to New France under the sponsorship of the French government. This was part of the government’s strategy of strengthening the French colonies in Canada as there was a dwindling population until they could stand by themselves, without the economic and military dependence on France. They also had the goal of correcting the gender imbalance between men and women. This system was overseen by Jean Talon.
Each girl who agreed to become one of the Filles du Roi received a dowry of 50 livres, or around $1000 in current currency (CBC). They also had the choice to choose their suitor, and they lived in a dorm-like household where they learned household skills to prepare them for marriage. After marriage, if a family was larger than ten, they would receive an annual pension of 300 livres, or $6000.
This question is significant to ask about the past because most French Canadians are descendants of one of the Filles du Roi (CBC). This recognizes the heritage of many Francophones that we have today because of this system. It is difficult to find primary sources of evidence as this system is from hundreds of years ago, so I relied on CBC’s article on the Filles du Roi as a secondary source.
1.Continuity and Change
Our lives and conditions are not very similar to those of the Filles du Roi. In a sense, the system could be compared to that of a boarding school, as all of the girls lived in dorms and learned different skills there. However, boarding school students do not receive money for going to their school, and instead, the school is paid great amounts of money. The meetings set up to choose a suitor are similar to speed dating or could be comparable to a dating app like Tinder, as they meet with a possible partner and get to know them very quickly.
Our times have changed because we don’t have the same worries of the French government. The government was concerned about the populations of New France. We, on the other hand, are not faced by the issue of underpopulation. The Filles du Roi system also enforces gender norms such as women have to work inside the house and do kitchen work, whereas we now encourage those of all gender to participate in any kind of lifestyle. However, these gender norms were considered normal at the time, and we shouldn’t judge the events of the past with modern day values in mind.
2. Cause and Consequence
The events of the Filles du Roi happened the way they did because the system proved to be successful. It would be impossible for women in France to choose their suitor, but the Filles du Roi system allowed them to choose their husband, which may have been a source of interest in the system. The consequences to this are that New France prospered and brought us current day Quebec.
B. Social Studies Inquiry Processes
The conclusions I can reach regarding my question would be that the Filles du Roi essentially brought us what Quebec is today. Most French Canadians descended from the Filles du Roi, a mere 800 women who were brought to New France from France. Had this system failed, we may not have this French-speaking community as part of Canada today.