Thursday, 5 December 2013

Adressing Everyone

Even a courtier could not life forever bolted up within his château but had to make his way out in the world of peasants and non-titled citizens - and of course there was an etiquette here too. The difference is that this etiquette was not known to the courtiers alone but to the common man and woman as well, it was common knowledge if you will. Since it was unlikely that a nobleman would have any occasion to talk to a commoner the rules of etiquette was often regarding the quick address when meeting each other.

First of all you could never just say "yes" or "no" without adding a "Madame" or "Monsieur" afterwards. In some situations it would not only be a titled person who had the right to be addressed a certain way. Whenever anyone walked into a shop it was expected that they would be greeted as either "Madame", "Mademoiselle" or "Monsieur" as well as being greeted with a polite wish of good day - both on entering and leaving the store.
In other cases it could be gender that decided what level of civility you would receive - remember chivalry had not died yet. This was - and still is in France - especially applied in restaurants where a waitress would be addressed as either "Mademoiselle" or "Madame" whereas a waiter would simply be a "garçon" meaning plainly "boy". Of course in ruder establishments (perhaps a brothel or a cheap inn) the tone would of course be very different.

In the army there was no need to pay any extra respect to women since they were simply not there. A soldier would always be addressed according to his rank and in this way his rank became a part of his title. If you met with a General you would say "mon Général", if it was a Captain "mon Capitaine". Notice that in these cases "Monsieur" was completely left out but the address was still respectful. Dealing with the clergy was something that was far more likely for both men and women since it was normal for noble families to send their daughters to a convent until they reached a certain age and their son (if he was the second or third son) to become a clergyman. Addressing a nun was not different from what it is today and she would always be "ma Sæur".
Finally there was the addressing of those who held a title and this was not solely those who was of noble descent. For example a professor would also be considered to fall under this category and would therefore be "Monsieur le Professeur". Of course this means that a nobleman could be "Monsieur le Comte" or "Monsieur le Duc".

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