Re: [Authentic_SCA] medieval Court Etiquette - "Your Grace"?
- On Sep 6, 2009, at 7:12 AM, julian wilson wrote:
> I have a query concerning medieval Court Etiquette, which I hope youHere's what I learned from Mistress Michaela de Neuville (OL), who has
> 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 François 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.
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
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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Greetings Lord Matthew,
The replies here have pretty much illustrated the change of fashion of address towards Kings and Queens of England over the ages from Your Grace to Your Majesty. Just one small detail which you might find interesting. As far as my research on this matter has gone, I believe that it was Richard II who first insisted on the title Your Majesty, whereas his antecedents had always been happy with Your Grace. Similarly he was also the first King who had felt the need to have a bodyguard about his person. The Barons were not best pleased with this new title as they saw it as an attempt to dominate and usurp their traditional freedoms. Certain other things he did during his reign did not help his cause either!
I believe that due to the associations, it was several reigns later before a King again used that title.
These small facts I know, as my persona lived during the reign of Richard II.
- At least in some cases, the inferior was kissing not the hand of the superior, but his ring of office.
This was the case until at least after World War II in Italy, where a bishop or archbishop's episcopal ring would get kissed. (source for this modern use is a fiction book series Don Camillo (iirc))
In the later middle ages, that episcopal ring would nearly always be a reliquary, too, so the reveraunce would be directed to the office and to the saint, rather than the wearer directly.
This is completely off the cuff--if you find actual references to your period and/or location of interest, follow that, by all means! ;)
Ann in C%
--- Marianne Perdomo wrote:
> Also, it seems that both men and women would kiss the hands of their
> superiors... something I've often fantasized about doing, but I fear
> people would just find it too strange. I've thought of using a
> "moorish style salute" which again in 15th c. Spain meant kissing
> the hems of the robe.
- 2009/9/7 Ann Catelli wrote:
> At least in some cases, the inferior was kissing not the hand of theYet another twist... in the 15th c. Spanish chivalric novel Tirant lo Blanc,
> superior, but his ring of office.
the hero wants to kiss the princess's hand, but she refuses out of courtesy.
He gets her ladies to plead for him and finally the lady allows this... but
she doesn't let him kiss the "outside" of her hand, as that would be a sign
of lordship, but the "inside" of the hand instead, as that's a sign of
While a novel, this is very reallistic fiction. At one point Tirant, who's
tourneying in Great Britain, goes back to his parents' home in Gaul because
he needs more money before travelling to a challenge in Scorland. He often
wins battles by his wits, too, though of course he's an amazing fighter, too
;) Somebody should turn this into a film trilogy, as it's really a fun book.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 2009/9/8 <lariandrober>
> ---- Marianne Perdomo wrote:No, a properly made one ;)
> > ;) Somebody should turn this into a film trilogy, as it's really a fun
> > Leonor
> This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirant_lo_Blanc_(film)<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirant_lo_Blanc_%28film%29>?
To be fair, I was eager to watch that but after reading the reviews I
decided I'd wait until I could catch it on for free or just about... :( but
then I haven't managed.
It really needs the action scenes: the tourneys, the battles,... which I
understand this lacks completely. It's a part action, romance and comedy
which makes it balanced, and also establishes Tirant as a proper hero.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- On Sep 6, 2009, at 4:22 PM, Melisende Fitzwalter wrote:
> Greetings Lord Matthew,I'd love to know your source for this. I, too, have a Ricardian
> The replies here have pretty much illustrated the change of fashion
> of address towards Kings and Queens of England over the ages from
> Your Grace to Your Majesty. Just one small detail which you might
> find interesting. As far as my research on this matter has gone, I
> believe that it was Richard II who first insisted on the title Your
> Majesty, whereas his antecedents had always been happy with Your
> Grace. Similarly he was also the first King who had felt the need
> to have a bodyguard about his person. The Barons were not best
> pleased with this new title as they saw it as an attempt to dominate
> and usurp their traditional freedoms. Certain other things he did
> during his reign did not help his cause either!
persona and always enjoy finding new info to round out my knowledge.
"..Um..Something strange happened to me this morning."
"Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort
of Sun God robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked
women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?"
"Why am I the only person that has that dream?"