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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > C > Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan

Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan

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(Née Genest; known as Madam Campan).

A French educator, born 6 November, 1752, at Paris; died in 1822, at Mantes. She was carefully educated under the direction of her father, a head-clerk in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in whose house she met such distinguished men of letters as Duclos, Marmontel, and Thomas. At the age of fifteen she spoke English and Italian, and read so well that she was appointed reader to the young princesses, Victoire, Sophie, and Louise, the daughters of Louis XV. Soon afterwards she married M. Campan, whose father was secretary to the queen's cabinet. On that occasion Louis XV gave her an annual income of 5000 livres ($1000) as dowry. She then entered the service of Marie Antoinette, as first lady of the bed-chamber (1770), and retained that position till 20 June, 1792. When the unfortunate queen was sent to prison, Mme Campan courageously asked to be allowed to share her sad lot. Her request was denied, and she retired to Coubertin, a small village in the Chevreuse valley. She found herself in straitened circumstances, having to provide for her young son and for her husband who was heavily in debt and in poor health. With a nun as associate, she established a boarding-school for girls at Saint-Germain, which soon achieved success and counted among its pupils Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Joséphine. Napoleon was so much pleased with the order, elegance, and distinction of the school that he appointed Mme Campan superintendent of the Imperial Academy of Ecouen, founded for the education of the daughters of members of the Legion of Honour (Dec., 1807). She adopted the programme of the old Saint-Cyr house, modifying it to suit the new conditions. Her chief aim was to train girls to be useful women and good mothers. In 1814 the school was abolished and Mme Campan bitterly denounced as a traitor by the Royalists, because she accepted the favours of the "usurper". She retired to Mantes and spent her time in writing didactic and historical essays. Mme Campan's principal works are: "Mémoires sur la vie de Marie-Antoinette, suivis de souvenirs et anecdotes sur le règne de Louis XIV et de Louis XV" (3 vols., Paris, 1823); "Lettres de deux jeunes filles" (1811); L'éducation des femmes" (1823); "Conversations d'une mère avec ses filles" (1804); "Nouvelles et comédies à l'usage de la jeunesse" (1823). These four books have been published under the title of "uves complètes de Mme Campan sur l'éducation" (Paris, 1823).


Journal anecdotique de Mme Campan, ou sounenirs recueillis de ses entretiens, ed. Maigne (1823); Barrère, Notice sur Madame Campan in the first volume of her memoirs; D'Aubier, Observations sur les mémoires de Mme Campan (Paris, 1823).

About this page

APA citation. Delamarre, L. (1908). Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Delamarre, Louis. "Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by William D. Neville.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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