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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Historical Spotlight: Tudor Era Manners for Attending Table

So, I thought it would be interesting to learn some of the manners that were expected of anyone attending table at a house of a member of the nobility. I got this idea after reading a passage from Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir where the main character is going to attend her first table. Here is the passage:
"I must not speak during the meal, unless anyone speaks to me. I must never, never yawn, belch, pick my nose, wipe my fingers on the tablecloth, or, worst of all, let go a fart...Lots of dishes are served at table, but a child must not commit the sin of gluttony, and I am not supposed to choose more than two or three at a time" (pg. 37).
I thought that this sounds like a lot, especially for a young child to remember (and we all know how young children can behave at a table!) So, naturally I went to the web to see what I could find, and here are some additional rules to follow:
  • "Guests were led into the dining chamber in order of precedence. In a great hall, seats were usually laid out in a U-shape, with the lord at the base of the U. The most honored position was to the right of the lord, and the lowest at the bottom of the tables to the left of the lord."
  • The visible washing of hands was important
  • Dishes were brought to the high table first and then to the other tables according to rank
  • A person would not expect to have a little of everything served. They were expected to only select from the trays located near them
  • Drink was brought to the table by an attendent when the person wanted a drink and then removed when finished with that drink
  • Don't put elbows on the table (it could cause it to slip and fall)
  • Food was not to be eaten from the tip of the knife
  • Meat was to be cut into small pieces
This is just some of the highlights, further information can be found at Elizabethan Manners.

Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I had the same thought when I read Innocent Traitor, which is one of my all time favorite books.


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