Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Wet nursing in fairy tales

I've been reading Old French Fairy Tales by the Comtesse Sophie Segur to Zari. I love the Art Nouveau illustrations. The stories are so-so. The beautiful and annoyingly good princess always marries the handsome prince (usually named Charmant or Gracious) and the evil mother/father/sisters suffer a terrible fate. Obedience, goodness, and kindness are highly prized.

But what caught my eye was a little snippet about wet nursing. You may recall that France has historically embraced wet nursing, so it's not surprising that the practice made its way into fairy tales written almost 200 years ago.

From "The Princess Rosette":
There was once a king and queen, who had three daughters. The two eldest were twins--Orangine and Roussette--and their parents loved them very dearly. They were beautiful and intelligent, bu they were not very good. In this they resembled the king and queen. The third princess was called Rosette and was three years younger than her sisters. She was as amiable as she was handsome, as good as she was beautiful....

Some days after the birth of Rosette, the king and queen sent her to the country, on a farm, to be nursed. Rosette lived happily there for fifteen years without her parents coming once to see her. Every year they sent a small sum of money to the farmer to pay Rosette's expenses and asked some questions as to her health, but they never came to see her nor disturbed themselves about her education. 
Rosette eventually returns home to her kingdom, where she outshines her two sisters and gains the favors of prince Charmant. The rest of her family members grow increasingly jealous and finally scheme to kill her by various evils means. However, Rosette's fairy godmother leads Rosette and Charmant to safety. Rosette's family suffers terrible punishments. Voila. Nice clean ending.


  1. In the current series "A Song of Ice and Fire" (fantasy) where are many, many references to wet nursing.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...