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58044Re: [Authentic_SCA] medieval Court Etiquette - "Your Grace"?

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  • Chris Laning
    Sep 6, 2009
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      On Sep 6, 2009, at 7:12 AM, julian wilson wrote:

      > I have a query concerning medieval Court Etiquette, which I hope you
      > learned Gentles can answer for me.
      > During my research into late-15th Century History - [specifically
      > the Court of King Henry VII, wherein my SCA Persona had his Life as
      > a member of "the Kynges affinity"] - via contemporary letters, and
      > official documents, - I have found a number of occasions where
      > Sovereign Princes, - King Henry VII, King Louis XI of France, and
      > Duke Fran├žois II of Brittany amongst them - are referred to as "
      > His Grace" or, in contemporarily-reported verbatim conversations,
      > addressed as "Your Grace".
      > I can find no clues in the modern Etiquette-reference Sites I've
      > searched online - to the medieval usage.. And I find it puzzling.
      > All the MODERN references I've viewed online don't mention this
      > form of Noble Title/Address in connection with Ruling Sovereigns -
      > only in connection with Duchies and Archbishops.
      > This humble veteran soldier has had occasion to hold converse with
      > Their Draconic Majesties of Drachenwald at a number of Events - and
      > in keeping with our growing SCA reputation for "authenticity", my
      > Lady and I would like to know when this usage to a Ruling Prince
      > became obsolete.

      Here's what I learned from Mistress Michaela de Neuville (OL), who has
      been the fount-of-all-wisdom on precedence and titles in the
      Renaissance Guild I've belonged to for many years. (She's one of those
      amazing Laurels who was elevated in, I believe, A.S. Ten and has just
      kept right on researching, learning, et cetera. I'm also biased in
      favor of her scholarship because I was her apprentice ;)

      Up through approximately the late 15th and early 16th century, Kings,
      Princes, and Dukes (keeping in mind that Duke started out as a mostly-
      royal title) _were_ commonly addressed as "Your Grace." So were
      Bishops, who ranked as "Princes of the Church."

      Originally, "Your Majesty" was a title reserved for Emperors, not mere
      (!) kings. (In the same way, BTW, crowns with two intersecting arches
      were Imperial crowns; the crowns of kings and queens had one arch or

      In the 16th century, and still more in the early 17th, it became a fad
      for kings to style themselves as Emperors, i.e. supreme rulers subject
      to no one on earth. (Kings were in theory subject to an emperor, for
      instance the Holy Roman Emperor, or to the Pope.) Of course, once one
      king started doing this, all the others had to follow suit to keep
      their status.

      While there are records of earlier sovereigns occasionally being
      referred to as "Your Majesty" (Henry VIII, IIRC?) James the First of
      England was the first English monarch to insist on that title. Queen
      Elizabeth I definitely preferred "Your Grace."

      BTW, James also changed the livery colors of the royal house from the
      Tudor green and white to the Stuart red and gold, logically enough --
      but it's interesting that they have remained red and gold ever since.
      Also, David Cressy (I think it was) reported that during James's
      reign, those who harked back to the days of Elizabeth are recorded as
      commenting, "Elizabeth was King: now is James Queen!"


      O (Dame) Christian de Holacombe, OL - Shire of Windy Meads
      + Kingdom of the West - Chris Laning <claning@...>
      http://paternoster-row.org - http://paternosters.blogspot.com
      a.k.a. Christian Ashley, gentlewoman to Dorothy, Lady Stafford
      Guild of St. George, Northern California
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