Maison du Roi (Household of the King) was the name
of the military, domestic and religious entourage (Royal Household) around the royal family in
France during the "Ancien
RĂ©gime" and Bourbon
Restoration; the exact composition and duties of its various
divisions changed constantly over the Early Modern period.
the "Maison du Roi" were directly responsible to the "Grand maĂ®tre de France
Steward), although, starting in the 16th century and then from the
17th century on, the "Maison du Roi" was overseen by a ministry,
the "DĂ©partement de la Maison du Roi", directed by a secretary of
state, the "SecrĂ©taire d'Ă‰tat Ă la
Maison du Roi
". The structure of the "Maison du Roi" was
officially ruglamentated under Henry
and in the 17th century by Jean-Baptiste Colbert
The Military Maison du Roi
The military branch of the "Maison du Roi" was the French Army Lifeguard
brigade, made up of cavalry and
infantry units. Officer rank was only open to gentlemen, though
some of its units were drawn from elite troops among commoners in
the rest of the army. It was not ceremonial and participated in all
France's 16th and 17th century campaigns.
The Religious Maison du Roi
The Ecclesiastical Household of the king was headed by the Grand Almoner of France
aumĂ´nier of France) (created by Francis I
), most often a bishop
. The king's chapel ("la chapelle du roi") â€“
which did not originally refer to a building, but to the religious
entourage of the king â€“ was in charge of the mass and religious
ceremonies (marriages, baptisms) for the sovereign and the royal
family, and the king's alms
charities. It was headed by the Grand Almoner who was assisted by
the First Almoner, who fulfilled the duties of the Grand Almoner
when the latter was unable to. Other officers of the "Maison
ecclĂ©siastique" included several "aumĂ´nier ordinaire" (who
maintained the regular service of the chapel), the "prĂ©dicateur du
roi" (or "king's preacher"), who preached in the presence of the
king, and the king's confessor
The royal chapel also included a group of ecclesiastics and
musicians for the religious services, divided into two sections:
the "chapel and oratory" ("chapelle et oratoire") â€“ directed by the
master of the Oratory ("maĂ®tre de l'Oratoire") â€“ which performed
spoken masses, and the "grande chapelle" â€“ directed by the master
of the chapel ("maĂ®tre de la chapelle") â€“ which performed masses in
. In the reign of Louis XV
, the musicians of the two
chapels were united, and oversight was eventually transferred (in
1761) from the Ecclestiastical household to the King's Chamber and
the position of "master of the chapel" was eliminated.
The Domestic Maison du Roi
The "Maison du Roi civile", or domestic entourage of the king was
divided into a number of departments, whose number varied over the
years. Under Louis XIV
consisted of 22 departments. Each department was directed by the
"grands officiers de la maison du roi de France" (a title similar
to, but not the same as, "grand officier de la couronne de
France"). From the 16th to the 17th centuries, the "Maison du Roi
civile" consisted of around 1000 - 2000 individuals.
The most important departments were the following :
The "Bouche du roi"
The largest of the departments, the "Bouche du roi" oversaw the
meals of the king. It was run by the "Premier MaĂ®tre d'hĂ´tel". The
seven offices of the department were:
- gobelet: wine and drink, run by the Grand Bouteiller
- cuisine-bouche: cuisine
- paneterie: bakers
- fruiterie: fruits
Officers included: the MaĂ®tre d'hĂ´tel ordinaire
, the 12
MaĂ®tres d'hĂ´tel servant par quartier
, the Grand panetier
, the Premier Ă©cuyer
and the Grand Ă©chanson
(three offices which
had become purely honorific in the Early Modern period), and the 36
gentleman servants, etc.
The King's Chamber
Directed by the Grand
Chambrier of France
or Grand Chambellan of France
department oversaw the king's rooms and his personal escort. After
the "Bouche du roi", it was the second largest. It consist of 4
First Gentlemen of the chambre, the gentlemen of the chambre, the
valets de chambre
, the page
, the huissiers
and the children of honor. Their proximity to the king made these
charges particularly esteemed.
The complete name of this department was argenterie, menus
plaisirs et affaires de la chambre du roi
entertainments and affairs of the king's chamber"). The
Menus-Plaisirs du Roi
was in charge of theater decor, costumes and props for plays,
ballets and other court entertainments. It was run by an
Created in 1585
by Henry III
, this service was in charge of
public ceremonies such as: baptisms
and royal funerals, coronations
and the "sacre" (or royal
christening), royal entries into towns, royal festivals,
ambassaderial receptions, Ă‰tats
, etc. It was run by the Grand
maĂ®tre des cĂ©rĂ©monies
, assisted by the maĂ®tre
The Royal Stables
Divided in 1582
into two parts :
- the "Grande Ă‰curie", run by the Grand Ă©cuyer of France, called Â«
M. le Grand Â», who oversaw the transport of the king and his
ceremonial entourage (heralds, men of arms, musicians, etc.)
- the "Petite Ă‰curie", run by the premier Ă©cuyer, called
Â« M. le Premier Â», comprising squires, pages, foot valets, coaches,
harnesses, saddles and coachmen.
This was the king's hunting service, run by the Grand Veneur
(the Master of the Hunt and Royal
Game Warden), and consisting of the "vĂ©nerie" (hunting on
horseback), "louveterie" (the hunt of wolves run by the Grand Louvetier
(run by the Grand
) and the "vautrait" (boar
, run by the "Capitaine du vautrait" or "Capitaine des
Great Officers of the Royal Household
The major offices of the royal household are sometimes listed as
the "grands officiers de la maison du roi de France", not to be
confused with the Great Officers of the
Crown of France
, with which it overlaps in part. Although lists
of the Great Officers vary, the following are generally considered
Great Officers of the Royal Household:
- * the First MaĂ®tre d'hĂ´tel (Chief Butler) - overseeing the
king's table and the "bouches du roi".
- ;* the Grand Panetier of France,
- :* the Grand Ă‰chanson de
France, overseeing wine.
- :* the First "Ă‰cuyer tranchant", who cuts the meat of the
- * the Grand Chambrier of
France or the Grand
Chambellan of France, head of the King's chambre, (also one of
the Great Officers
of the Crown of France).
- :*the four "First gentlemen of the King's Chamber", who oversee
the King's chambre.
- :*the four "First Valets of the King's Chamber", who oversee,
under the direction of the first gentlment, the King's
- * the Grand MaĂ®tre de la garde-robe, oversees the King's
- *the Grand Ă‰cuyer de
France, the head stablemaster, (also one of the Great Officers of the
Crown of France).
- :* the first Ă©cuyer de France seconds the Grand Ă©cuyer.
- * the Grand Huntsman of
France ("Grand Veneur"), directs royal hunts, especially the
- * the Grand Falconer of
France, direct royal hunts using birds
- * the Grand Louvetier of
France, direct royal hunts of wolves and boar.
- * the Grand Master of
Ceremonies of France ("grand maĂ®tre des cĂ©rĂ©monies"), directs
court ceremonies and protocol.
- * the Grand Marshal of lodging ("marĂ©chal des logis"), oversees
lodging of the king, of the court and of the royal household.
- * the Grand Provost of France, heads the court police, and for
this purpose has jurisdiction over the military troops of the
Maison du roi.
- * the Grand Almoner of
France, at the head of the royal chapel and the head of the
"Ecclesiastical House of the King (the "maison ecclĂ©siastique du
roi de France").
- :*the first Almoner of France who aids the Grand Almoner.
- Captain of the bodyguard.
- Captain-colonel of the Cent-Suisses
- Colonel General of the
Suisses et Grisons
- Captain-colonel of the guards of the king's door.
- Captain-lieutenant of the gendarmes of the guard
- Captain-lieutenant of the chevau-lĂ©gers (light cavalry) of the guard
- Colonel General of the
Musketeers of the guard
- :Captain-lieutenant of the first company of the Musketeers of
- :Captain-lieutenant of the first company of the Musketeers of
- Captain-lieutenant of the grenadiers Ă cheval of the guard
The Secretary of State of the Maison du Roi
Starting in the 16th century and then from the 17th century on, the
"Maison du Roi" was overseen by a ministry, the "DĂ©partement de la
Maison du Roi", directed by a secretary of state, the "SecrĂ©taire
d'Ă‰tat Ă la Maison du Roi", although this oversight was purely
formal, as the officers of the "Maison du Roi" were under the
direct authority of the Grand maĂ®tre de France
Steward of France). Moreover, in practice, the military branch of
the Maison du Roi was run by the Minister of War. The "SecrĂ©taire
d'Ă‰tat Ă la Maison du Roi" was however in charge of recruiting
officers for the "Maison du Roi", and would receive prospective
applications for posts and submit them to the king for his
- This article is based, in part, on the articles Maison du roi, Grand office de
la maison du roi de France and Maison
ecclĂ©siastique du roi de France from the French Wikipedia, retrieved on August 11,
September 1 and September 9 2006 (respectively).
- Bernard Barbiche, Les institutions de la monarchie
franĂ§aise Ă l'Ă©poque moderne, XVIe - XVIIIe siĂ¨cle, Paris :
PUF, 1999, 2nd edition. 2001.
- PĂ¨re Anselme de Sainte-Marie (o.c.m.), Histoire
gĂ©nĂ©alogique et chronologique de la Maison royale de France, des
pairs et grands officiers de la Couronne et de la Maison du
Roi, Compagnie des Libraires associĂ©s, 1737.
- Jean-FranĂ§ois Solnon, art. Â« Maison du roi Â», Dictionnaire
du Grand SiĂ¨cle, s. dir, FranĂ§ois Bluche, Fayard, 1990.
- Louis Susane, Histoire de la cavalerie franĂ§aise (3
vols). Reprinted C. Terana, Paris, 1984. ISBN