Madame Campan (1752 – 1822)
Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan, born Henriette Genet (6 October 1752, Paris – 16 March 1822, Mantes) was a French educator and lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette before and during the French Revolution.
Her father, whose name was Genest, was first clerk in the foreign office, and, although without fortune, placed her in the most cultivated society. At the age of fifteen she could speak English and Italian, and had gained so high a reputation for her accomplishments as to be appointed reader to the three daughters of Louis XV in 1768, and lady in waiting to Marie Antionette in 1770. At court she was a general favorite, and when she in 1774 bestowed her hand upon M. Campan, son of the secretary of the royal cabinet, the king gave her an annuity of 5000 livres as dowry. The marriage was unhappy and the couple separated in 1790. She was appointed first lady of the bedchamber by Marie Antoinette in 1786; and she continued to be her attendant until she was forcibly separated from her at the storming of the Tuileries on 10 August 1792. Her own house was attacked on this occasion, and she sought refuge in the country side.
Jeanne Campan survived the dangers of the Terror, but after the 9th of Thermidor finding herself almost penniless, and being thrown on her own resources by the illness of her spouse, she determined to support herself by establishing a school at St Germain. The institution prospered, and was patronized by Hortense de Beauharnais, whose influence lead to the appointment of Madame Campan as superintendent of the academy founded by Napoleon at Écouen for the education of the daughters and sisters of members of the Legion of Honor in 1807. This post she held until it was abolished at the restoration of the Bourbons in 1814, when she retired to Mantes, where she spent the rest of her life amid the kind attentions of affectionate friends, but saddened by the loss of her only son, and by the calumnies circulated on account of her connexion with the Bonapartes.
She died in 1822, leaving valuable Mémoires sur la vie privée de Marie Antoinette, suivis de souvenirs et anecdotes historiques sur les règnes de Louis XIV.-XV. (Paris, 1823); a treatise De l’Education des Femmes; and one or two small didactic works, written in a clear and natural style. The most noteworthy thing in her educational system, and that which especially recommended it to Napoleon, was the place given to domestic economy in the education of girls. At Écouen the pupils underwent a complete training in all branches of housework.