Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Guide to Noble Manners

This book on etiquette and manners is a contemporary version of the ancient literary genre known as specula principum – “Mirrors for Princes”, that is, books for, by or about rulers and their vocation. The monarchs of old needed guidance in order to rule with grace and with the people’s best interest at heart. Those who were born to rule had to smooth the rough edges in their character and to exercise temperance in all things in order not to be reduced to brutes and tyrants. And so arose a whole genre of royal self- help books with examples both good and bad for the ruler to reflect upon. – Some of the better known European “Mirrors for Princes” include Niccoló Machiavelli’s Il Principe – “The Prince”, Erasmus of Rotterdam’s Institutio principis Christiani – “Education of a Christian Prince” and the Basilikon Doron – “Royal Gift” written by King James VI of Scotland (King James I of England and Ireland) for the edification of his son.

Inter Folia Fructus Est– “Between the leaves is the fruit.” 
(the wisdom lies within the pages)

“Act Like a Prince,” a handy guide to noble manners is written from the perspective that all of us have a kingdom of our own to rule gracefully. Every person is called to find their throne and to be the authority in their own life. Entering the “princely” path is a life- long commitment to set healthy personal boundaries and to interact with others with kindness and tolerance.

The book is divided into nine chapters that offers advise on etiquette for specific situations as well as annotated quotes, adages and helpful hints from both ancient and contemporary sources. The lengthy introduction provides the background to the book and an overview of the main historical writers that have been selected to contribute their thoughts on good manners.
  1. Meeting and Greeting  
  2. In conversation
  3. At the table
  4. Of hospitality
  5. Of friends and companions 
  6. Manners and the ladies 
  7. In love, marriage and divorce  
  8. Of enemies and conflict 
  9. A Prince in the World
Each chapter has the same structure: they start with a short preamble followed by straightforward advice on formal etiquette, manners and curious tidbits of history and culture. The last section of each chapter features a collection of annotated instructions, quotes or bits of worldly wisdom gathered from a variety of sources. Be prepared to learn some Latin, French and German!

Taken all together, this book is a manifesto of self-cultivation and brotherly love. It is written from the perspective of a “micronational” (the concept is explained in detail in the preface, introduction and appendix) Prince as a reflection on living a life aligned with the humanistic ideals of Universal Human Rights, ethics based on kindness and reason, social responsibility, personal freedom and equality between races, genders and variations in sexuality.

Chapter One - Meeting and Greeting

Every new friendship and every new love starts with a greeting. When we greet a stranger, it is an act of revealing ourselves to one another. We make our presence known, and we agree to recognise each other as individuals in a sea of unknown faces. That first smile and handshake is the key to the first door of intimacy; it is essential to get it right! 

Humans are social animals with a tendency to create complex orders of precedence based on seniority, competence, class, and gender. Most people are sensitive to the little tell-tale signs that will give away the other’s relative social status. We may call this spontaneous sociology – a quick assessment of the other's posture, clothes and choice of words, or we could call it prejudice – a refusal to see the other as anything more than the sum of our ideas of them.

A proper greeting is an opportunity for both parties to shine through the veil of preconception. As a prince, you should be able to greet and socialise, with anyone. Knowing how to present yourself to the other, by way of a pleasant smile, a firm handshake or the occasional kiss on the cheek, is vital. Learn it well!

• Unless you are physically prevented from doing so, always stand when you greet someone, or risk being called an oaf! An oaf is a derivate of the Old Norse álfr – “elf,” “changeling” or “halfwit”. In short, do not act like an ignorant. Always be on your feet to greet! 
• It used to be the privilege of the lady, or someone older or higher ranking, to initiate the greeting by extending their hand. Today these rules are somewhat relaxed, but be aware that they still apply in some circles. Especially, NEVER ”attack” someone of a more elevated social standing, or fame, by initiating a greeting. Allow them to make the first move.
• Shaking hands is a minute dance, not a wrestling match or the rubbing together of two dead flounders! As in dancing, one has to meet the partner as an equal and with gusto. One does not dance half-heartedly or with brute force. Instead, one should take the offered hand and hold it as an affirmation of the other’s presence. Greetings are preliminaries, not the main event. Shake the hand twice and let go. Clinging to the other’s hand as if it were a lifebuoy appears desperate, and is it not well known that the drowning risk taking their would-be rescuers with them into the deep? 
• If you exchange business cards with someone, be sure to give and receive them with equal care and attention. Take the card with both hands and hold it during the conversation. A business card represents someone's chosen profession, and you should treat it with respect. Never nonchalantly put it away without looking at it! It can be a good idea to have two different cards to hand out: a professional card to exchange with potential business associates, and a more personal card to give to potential friends. 
• In these days bowing and curtsying are rare reverences. That is, movements done to show deference to a superior or someone worthy of one’s utmost respect. Young princes and princesses may greet any adult in such a way until their early twenties.
Bowing is not an acrobatic manoeuvre that involves jack-knifing by swinging the hips back and forth! Stand straight and give a quick and deep nod with the head.

Curtsying is done by placing on foot slightly behind the other, then bending both knees to lower oneself a few inches. One should keep the back straight and maintain eye contact, rather than lowering one’s gaze in feigned humility. It is a social event, not an opera performance!

The renaissance dancing master Fabritio Caroso on curtsying:
”You should make the reverence with your left foot for the following reasons. First, your right foot provides strength and stability for the body, and since it is its fortress, you should do this movement with your left foot because it is weaker than your right.”

”Since your left foot is the limb corresponding to the side wherein your heart lies, you should always make [the curtsy] with your left foot.”

Adults never bow or curtsy except to the most elevated people, such as popes, emperors, kings, queens and one's grandmother. The so-called "Spanish Reverence" - bowing by kneeling, is reserved for the Christian altar and marriage proposals.
• On hats, mittens and gloves: greeting someone is a ceremony of social intimacy and friendship (real or potential). It means letting down the guard and offering access to one’s presence. Hence, on the theme of intimacy, certain polite practices have developed around removing the shell of outer garments when greeting. Hats or caps worn for religious reasons may stay on.

Gentlemen should always take off their hats if greeting someone, and must also remove their right glove when shaking hands. A hat should always be removed upon entering a house, but they may stay on for short journeys by car, bus or train. The sole exception is when entering a synagogue - a Jewish house of worship, where the etiquette requires all males to cover their heads.

Ladies may keep their hats on in almost all situations. Hats at social events are daytime attire and rarely worn as accessories in the evening. As protection from the sun or the cold they can be worn as outer garments at any time of day but mostly removed when going inside. Always remove the right glove when greeting someone unless the gloves are of the long variety worn at evening events.
• It is always polite to say hello! Some louts pretend they do not see acquaintances, for fear they have to stop and chat. A prince sets aside any considerations of time or antipathy and greets them with a smile, a polite nod and a hello. No more than that is required.  
Always say your full name, and say it clearly, when you introduce yourself. You probably know your name by heart, and you should concentrate more on learning the other's. Should you happen to forget someone's name, apologise and ask them to repeat it. If you have tons of confidence you could try the following formula used by an unnamed 19th-century count: “You do not happen to remember your name, do you?” Make sure to remember their name the second time they say it! 
• Kissing on the cheek is reserved for friends and family, unless you are travelling in countries such as France where it is more widespread even between strangers. Two kisses are usually enough: first on the right cheek, then on the left. Put your cheek against the other's and kiss the air, not the skin (they could be wearing makeup, and you do not want to ruin it). Kissing on the cheeks is an ancient greeting, not an erotic prelude. It is perfectly fine to kiss people of both genders socially, but one would be advised to be aware of any cultural biases against men showing affection to other men. Some sillies still believe that manliness is a quality that gets sucked out of their bodies if they should happen to touch another
• Kissing on the hand is a rare sign of devotion, and it should not be a smacker on the knuckles. Gently lift the soon-to-be-kissed right hand, incline the head in a slight bow and lightly touch the lips to the top of the hand. Do not moisten the lips before kissing! 
• The supreme mark of respect and adoration is to combine kissing on the cheeks with a kiss on the hand. The Prince of Wales, or “Prince Charles”, sets a beautiful example with his greeting of his mother and sovereign Queen Elizabeth II. Kiss the cheeks first, then the right hand. 
• Not everyone is comfortable with social kissing and hugging. Be attentive and remember which of your friends prefer shaking hands. 
• What to say by way of greeting? No more is needed than a friendly “hello” or “How do you do?” to new acquaintances. The proper way to reply to the above question is to repeat it back with another “how do you do?” Do not say something silly like “delighted to meet you” if you do not feel this emotion. Your face is a portal to your soul, and there are myriad little twitches, creases and stiff spots that will betray the true nature of your sentiments. 
• It is more elegant to match the greeting to the time of day! A “Good Morning” early in the day, and “Good Evening” after six o’ clock, will bring more shine to your crown than would a simple “Hi.” 
• When introducing two or more people to each other, always first introduce the gentleman to the lady, the “inferior” to the “superior” and the younger to the senior. Example: “Mama, have you met my friend Count Erich Qvittenberg? Erich, this is my mother H.S.H. Princess Lena-Birgitta von Fräähsen zu Lorenzburg.” 
• ALWAYS introduce people to each other if you stop to chat with a friend while in the company of another. NEVER make people recede into the shadows while you start speaking to an acquaintance. Having good manners means including, not excluding, others. 
• Shine the light on the people you introduce! After introductions always mention something interesting about those you have introduced. Say something about their charity work or an area of specialised knowledge or interest, it will help the new acquaintances to start a conversation. 
• Parting well is equally important to greeting politely. Always make a good last impression! Say your farewells as cordially as you said hello.
Erasmus the Scholar on meeting and greeting:

“A certain person teaches, and not without reason, that we should salute freely. For a courteous and kind salutation oftentimes engages friendship and reconciles persons at variance, undoubtedly nourishing and increasing a mutual benevolence. There are indeed some persons that are such churls, and of so clownish a disposition, that if you salute them, they will scarcely salute you again. However, this vice is in some persons rather the effect of their education than their natural disposition.”
What to say when parting (according to Erasmus):
- Fare ye all well.
- Farewell.
- Take care of your health.
- Take great care of your health.
- I bid you good-by, time calls me away, fare ye well. 
- I wish you as well as may be.
- Farewell mightily, or if you had rather have it so, lustily. 
- Fare you well as you are worthy.
- Fare you as well as you deserve.
- Farewell for these two days.
- If you send me away, farewell till tomorrow.

“God, through the words of Solomon, has so commanded that we show respect and stand up before an aged person. He has also commanded through Saint Paul to give double honour to our elders.”

“He that takes care to do honour to him that is like unto us, or to our inferiors, is made never less, but more civil, and therefore more honourable. He who defers to his equal or inferior is not, by doing that, demeaning himself, but is more civil and therefore more worthy of respect. He must speak reverently and in few words with his superiors, with his equals amiably and gently.”

His Serene Highness Prince Freï von Fräähsen zu Lorenzburg was born in 1976 on the feast day of the patron saint of all things loud and banging! Dynamite, fireworks, gunpowder, thunder and cannons are under the domain of St. Barbara and her day, December 4th, is celebrated accordingly. Perhaps it is little surprise then, that Prince Freï was destined to become a little loud and colourful. He grew up on a hearty diet of fantasy literature, roleplaying games and the proximity to nature.

Prince Freï is a choreographer, performance artist, heraldic artist, artistic researcher and writer currently based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The author’s family history started with knight Laurens Bosson Påfågel (Peacock) who was born in 1239.

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

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