Thursday, May 12, 2016

Etiquette and Women's Rule

An 1888 painting by the Anglo-Dutch artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,"The Roses of Heliogabalus." At Roman banquets, one had to be careful and watch their manners, avoiding gossip about the Emperor, or saying anything negative about the Emperor, or anyone favored by the Emperor. The Emperor's spies were everywhere. The painting depicts the story of Emperor Heliogabalus (also known as Elagabalus), smothering his unsuspecting banquet guests to death, with rose petals, released from a false ceiling

She is No Novelty

The question of woman's supremacy is not a new one. In Rome, under the empire, a tribunal of women was established to decide questions regarding luxury and etiquette. 

The Emperor Heliogabalus consulted this assembly frequently. They decided questions of precedence, the number and state of females at court, upon the style of carriage the emperor should ride in, whether sedan chairs should be ornamented with silver or ivory, and contested the rights of man with an intelligence worthy of the present time. It was a veritable senate of fashion, was approved of by wiser men than Heliogabalus, and was re-established and maintained by his successors. 

The admission of woman's right to govern does not always signify an advanced state of society, as will be seen from the following account of a small state in Java, between the towns of Samarang and Bantam, known as The Kingdom of Bantam. 

In regard to its form of government and the manners and customs of its inhabitants, it far exceeds the wildest dreams of feminine minds. From time immemorial Bantam, though tributary to Holland, has been governed by women. The sovereign is a man, but the fact scarcely counts, as he is subject to a council of three women. 

High dignitaries, officers, and all the court attendants are, without exception, women, who see that the men are employed in agriculture and commerce. The King's bodyguard is composed of a corps of women soldiers, who ride astride their horses like men and handle a short, sharp lance with dexterity. They carry a rifle, too, with ease, and aim and fire with accuracy at full gallop. The oldest son of the King succeeds to the crown, but if the King dies without male heirs, 100 women, specially appointed, meet and select one of their own sons by vote and proclaim him the legitimate sovereign. 

In several villages of Finland, the woman has authority, for a religious sect exists there whose disciples are forced, when about to marry, to take a vow to submit to the wife in all things. The women choose one woman for their governing head, whose duty it is to see that the men behave themselves, and to punish them if they transgress. — Pacific Rural Press, 1895

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is that Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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