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Marie Antoinette’s Papillons

426px-Marie_Antoinette_Adult4 Nearly everyone who has ever had to take a history course knows who Marie Antoinette was.  If nothing else, most people at least know that she was a French queen who was beheaded via the guillotine.  But, you may be wondering, why am I writing about a historical figure on a pet blog?

The answer, as you may have guessed already from this blog title, is that Marie Antoinette was, as I am, a fan of Papillons.  Papillons, the breed of my dog Kitsune, are thought to be one of the oldest toy breeds in European history.  Although not always called Papillons, ancestors of today's butterfly dogs were common among European royalty.  Written histories of early Papillons can be hard to find, but the breeds evolution was well documented through works of art.  The earliest Italian paintings of small dogs thought to be the ancestors of today's Papillons are from around 1500.  Papillons are quite commonly found in early paintings of royal or wealthy merchant class families.

Marie Antoinette was supposedly a fan of the breed, so much so that one story suggests that she carried one of her beloved pets with her to the guillotine.  Her Papillon, as the story goes, was pardoned from suffering the same fate as it's former master, and was cared for, along with another one of Antoinette's Papillons, inside a house in Paris which, to this day, is still known as 'The House of the Papillon".

While Marie Antoinette's leadership skills may not have been the best, no one can fault her excellent taste in dog breeds!  Sometimes I wonder if perhaps Kitsune is aware of the royal associations of his breed.  He comes from a long line of royally spoiled pups!


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