Etiquette in the 18th century

Maria-Elena has posted some rules from the 18th century French court. Each one makes sense, honours the woman and the man. For those of us who attended Catholic School in the 60s and 70s the nuns taught us similar decorum. I also have to add that the rules of etiquette in the naval service ( my experience and training are from the Marine Corps) are just a formal, for example, *In the presence of the Commanding Officer you stood at attention until being told to stand at ease. *Replies to questions, and questions to an officer or senior are given in the third person. *When walking in uniform with a woman, hand holding is forbidden. * One knock and one knock when attempting to see the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer and especially the Sergeant Major (annoying the Sergeant Major was not a good idea) .

...Paris Atelier explains the elaborate rules of etiquette at the French court which drove Marie-Antoinette to distraction. (Her family had been very informal, as royals go.) Here are a few of the rules:

*People who wanted to speak to the king could not knock on his door. Instead, using the left little finger, they had to gently scratch on the door, until they were granted permission to enter. As a result, many courtiers grew that fingernail longer than the others!

*A lady never held hands or linked arms with a gentleman. It was in very bad taste and nearly impossible because a woman’s skirts were so wide. She was to place her hand on top of the gentleman’s bent arm as they strolled through the gardens and chambers of Versailles. Ladies were only allowed to touch their fingertips with the men. Imagine that! Funny with all of the scandal that went on!

*The king and queen always had a fauteuil (armchair) to sit on. In their presence, no one else was allowed an armchair, unless you were also a monarch.

*A chair with a back but no arms was allowed for those closest in rank to the king, such as his brother or children.

*The tabouret, a padded stool was awarded to those holding the rank of duchess. Lesser ranking nobility would be expected to stand.

* Only ushers were allowed to open doors. If you desired to leave the room, you had to wait for the usher to open the door.

Catherine Delors writes about an 18th century version of a blind date...

Thanks and a tip of the beret to the authoresses Catherine Delors, and Maria-Elena Vidal.

Dieu Le Roy!
de Brantigny


Catherine Delors said...

A blind date indeed, Richard! I hadn't thought of it this way... Many thanks for the link.

de Brantigny........................ said...

I had wanted to write on thisearlier but time does not always permit. I don't know if you ever heard of Gomer Pyle but his famous phrase was "Suu Prize, Suu Prize, Suu Prize".

Thanks for your alway welcome comments. Richard