Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More Etiquette of Louis XIV

The Sun King's bedchamber at Versailles –The most minutely elaborate character, and governed every movement of the King and those about him from the very moment he opened his august eyes until he closed them in sleep.


Minutely Elaborate Etiquette of Louis XIV

"The etiquette which prevailed at Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV was of the most minutely elaborate character, and governed every movement of the King and those about him, from the very moment he opened his august eyes until he closed them in sleep. 

He was the center of the whole. It was a drama daily repeated— the same characters, the same scenes, the same details— oppressive in its sameness, fatiguing in its constant pressure. I have neither the space nor the inclination to dwell on all the extraordinary ceremonial of the State dinner; the twenty or thirty grandees fluttering around the King's plates and glasses, the sacramental utterances of the occasion: the gaudy procession of the retinue; the arrival of "la nef" — that is, the center piece of plate which contained, between scented cushions, the King's napkins; and pessai des plats— the tasting of each dish by the gentlemen servants and officers of the table before the King partook of it. The same custom was observed with the beverages. It took four persons to serve the King with a glass of wine and water. 

Well, might Frederick the Great, on hearing an account of all this tyranny of etiquette, exclaim that if he were King of France his first edict would be to appoint another King- to hold court in his place— all the year round."  –Scribner's Magazine, 1891


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