You hear this saying quite a lot these days from little kids playing dress up to brides choosing a dress. But would you really have wanted to be a princess?
Well I would think no unless it’s in modern times. Let’s face it the life in castle would have stunk. The whole place would have smelt of wood smoke in the winter, which isn’t bad but factor in the food smells, the smelly of musty fabrics and furnishing it would be a bit bad. No add into the smell of the people and it would be gross. No deodorant, body wash and shampoo! If you stunk you had to change your clothes and send them off to be washed. Except in reality only your under linen shift would be washed. The top dress would probably never be cleaned. Now add in the smell of chamber pots and toilets if you’re lucky. Versailles in France the people of court used to got to the toilet in the corner of the room and just leave their doings on the floor. I don’t want to be a princess.
But it isn’t just the smells that would stop you from wanting to be a princess. Your life would be completely controlled. What you could learn, who your friends were and even what your interests were. So learning to sew, run a household and be a proper lady was high on the list of your day. Some princesses had more freedom than this, but not many.
If you’re Dad’s King (or brother etc), no choosing your own hubby, Daddy would do it for you and you would probably wouldn’t be too impressed. Lets consider the Tudor princess Mary Tudor the daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Her big brother chose her first husband for her. He chose King Louis XII of France a 52 year old double widower for her. Mary was 18 years old. It was even worse for Isabella of Valois the daughter of King Charles VI of France. He married her off to the 29 year old widower King Richard II when she was 6 years old! So her you are packed off to another country (probably) to live with someone you’ve never met. Luckily you probably get to take your ladies with you, but they may also have been chosen for you. Mary Tudor had Anne Boleyn as a lady in waiting in France and she really didn’t like her.
Then there’s the little matter of woman’s duties. As wife of a monarch, heir to a throne or wife of a high ranking noble you had one job. Have children, in particular sons to carry on the line. Also you would probably have to put up with your spouse carrying on with his mistresses. Once you popped out your child if it was a boy – great celebration and if it was a girl your downfall may be plotted, think Anne Boleyn. If you were kept on as a wife then you would be expected to get pregnant again very quickly. Then was the fact you may well not survive childbirth. Also you may have been a child yourself when you gave birth. Queen Mary II was only 16 when she married her husband and possibly still 16 when she suffered a miscarriage. Now I know it was a different time but at 16 I was very much still a kid.
During your life as a princess you would be controlled by your father or other family member until you married and then controlled by your husband. Everything was controlled. Who you spent time with, what you wore (must look fashionable for your husband), what you did and even what happened to you. Think about Infanta Catalina of Aragon, later Queen Catherine of Aragon. She was sent away to marry, put aside by her husband and removed from court to a cold damp castle with no ladies and very little money and not allowed to see her daughter.
So still want to be a Princess? Maybe the expression should be changed to I want to be a Disney Princess.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!