Sunday, 26 May 2013

Taking a Seat

One did not simply take a seat when the King or Queen was present - even this was dictated by etiquette. This particular system was just as complicated as the rest of the restraining etiquette but this could be changed according to the situation!
It was only the King and Queen who could sit on an armchair or fauteuil; the only occasion this was broken on was when another monarch visited the French court in which case he or she would be offered an armchair as well.
Chairs without arms but with a back was only for those who were closest in rank to the monarchs - this could be the King's brothers, sisters and children. During Louis XIV it was common for his sons to stand while his daughters were granted a seat. A tabouret or stool - which was a chair with neither back nor arms - was only for the duchesses of the court. Everyone else was required to stand, no matter their age or fortune.

However, the rules were different when it was the Queen alone who was present. In this case a Cardinal was allowed to take a seat (a simple one of course). In the presence of the King the Cardinal was expected to stand.
And of course when neither of the monarchs were present the rules changed - yet again. Whenever the Dauphin was in the room, the right to a stool (or tabouret) belonged to grandchildren of France, princesses of the blood, cardinals and duchesses. But the children of France - who were the brothers and sisters of the Dauphin - had the privilege of an armchair.

But it's not over yet. Different rules applied when courtiers were in the presence of a grandchild of France (that would be the King's grandchild). In this case everyone who was their equal in rank could have an armchair whereas duchesses, cardinals and princes/princesses of the blood were elevated to the privilege of having a chair with a back. Even dukes were allowed to sit on tabouret. Princes and princesses of the blood required even more chairs to fulfil the rights of those present. Dukes, duchesses and cardinals all had the right to an armchair.

It was common for courtiers to have folding chairs that they could be seated on - but only if the royal family was not present!

This very etiquette came into dispute when Louis XIV was asked by his brother, the Duc d'Orléans for an armchair as well. The majesty said no. Louis XIV explained to his brother that the etiquette was an important part of keeping the status of the monarch intact. If everyone was granted the same chair then how could you tell the difference in power from a baron to a King?

This is a tabouret

1 comment:

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