Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Napoleonic Court Etiquette

The Emperor holds what is called an “audience” every Sunday morning, when he is in Paris. This is a fashion of receiving which was abolished by the Revolution and restored by Napoleon I. In 1830 it again fell, and was re-established in 1852 by Napoleon III. With the “audience” fell and rose the offices of Chamberlains — persons especially charged with all that concerns the interior household of the Sovereign. 

The French Court

The Paris correspondent of the New York Tribune, writing January 27th, says: The Emperor, had he desired to foreshadow anything like a rupture of amicable relations with the United States, had an opportunity to do so at the Imperial Ball at the Tuileries on Wednesday evening last. Instead, however, of doing that, he departed from usage and relinquished a point of etiquette in order to render more agreeable the position of our representative at this Court. A Charge d'Affaires, being accredited to the Minister of Foreign Affairs only and not to the Sovereign, is not supposed to have any communication with the latter. 

At the presentations at the Tuileries, the Charge d’ Affaires does not introduce his countrymen directly to the Emperor, but simmers his introduction through a Chamberlain who stands between his Majesty and the Charge. This has always been the case before, and there was no reason to suppose that the rule would be departed from on Wednesday evening. When the Emperor entered the room in which the diplomatic corps were gathered, he addressed a few words to Lord Cowley, who stood at the head of the line, made a remark to the Italian Minister, and then forced his way along until he came to Bigelow, who occupied a position nearly at the foot. He held out his hand to Bigelow and expressed his gratification at seeing him, and complimented him upon his good standing with the United States Government, which so promptly placed him in the position which he occupied. He then addressed a few words to Mrs. Bigelow— asked her how long she had been here, and passed on. 

The Emperor addressed his remarks to Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow in English, although fortunately they, unlike most of their predecessors, speak excellent French. In the presentation ceremony no Chamberlain stood between the Emperor and Bigelow, who introduced, our countrymen directly to his Majesty. This was certainly an unusual and entirely unexpected proceeding, and may be explained as, in part, an evidence of good feeling towards our Government, and in part a high personal compliment to the occupant of the position of Charge d' Affaires.– Life in Paris, Sacramento Union, 1865

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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