Sunday, 26 May 2013

Terrible Insults!

With all these rules of etiquette mistakes where inevitable but it was still awful to a courtier to be target of such a mistake. Etiquette dictated your standing and your influence - to be denied your right was a terrible insult and a public humiliation. Here are three of the notable breaches on etiquette that caused a courtiers' outrage.

In 1707 Madame (it was a privilege in itself to be known only as "Madame") wrote to one of her relatives who had made the insulting mistake of forgetting Madame's son's true rank: "I see that you take my son for a blood prince. But he is not one. His rank is one of grandson of France." The difference was vital in the eyes of a courtier. A grandson of France held considerable privileges that were denied to a blood prince. A grandson of France could sit in the presence of foreign Queens and even get into the same carriage - this was unthinkable for a blood prince. Furthermore, a grandson of France was entitled to a bodyguard, a butler and a horseman - a blood prince was not. The icy tone of the letter surely testifies to Madame's mood - she was far from happy!

The Duchess of Mantua paid a visit to Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV. As she entered the glittering court she expected to be honoured with the rights of a duchess - but she was deeply disappointed. When she paid a visit to the widow of the Maréchal de Bellefonds the Duchess looked for an armless chair with a back (her right as a duchess) but was instead offered a mere tabouret or stool. Deeply insulted she refused to sit on the chair and promptly left. However, the King was far to occupied with other business to care about the disregard to etiquette and the Duchess found herself unwelcome at court any more.

Madame Adélaïde - you can
just imagining her throwing
a royal fit

Madame Adélaïde was the favourite daughter of her father, Louis XV. The princess of France was outraged when a courtier (whose name is lost to history) greeted her with the title of "Royal Highness" - a title given to all children of France but Madame Adélaïde was commonly known as "Madame" like her sisters.

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