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p-manners-msg - 5/24/08


Period manners. Period manners books. References.


NOTE: See also the files: courtesy-msg, SCA-courtesy-art, hair-msg, perfumes-msg, p-sex-msg, p-hygiene-msg, bathing-msg, cosmetics-msg, p-dental-care-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: lisch at sun_dsdc.mentorg.com (Ray Lischner)

Date: 21 Oct 91 22:15:16 GMT

Organization: Mentor Graphics Corp., Wilsonville, OR


>       What sources can the good gentles of the Rialto suggest

>for descriptions of general forms of manners and social

>behavior in northern/western Europe during the Middle Ages?  

>Specifically, I'm interested in how to treat royalty, members

>of the opposite sex and noble strangers.


I suggest starting with Ruth Kelso's works: Doctrine for the Lady

of the Renaissance (Urbana: U. of Illinois Press, 1956) and Doctrine

for the English Gentleman in the Sixteenth Century (1929).

Despite the titles, her work extends into the later Middle Ages.


She has done a lot of reading on the topic, and it is unfortunate that

she chose a format in which she does not give specific references.

Her bibliographies, however, are vastly more extensive than any you

can get in this forum.


If you want something quick and easy, then try Edith Rickert's "The

Babees' Book: Medieval manners for the young done into modern English

from Dr. Furnivall's texts." (NY: Cooper Square, 1966).  In her book

you can find primary sources from fifteenth century England, rendered

in modern English.


The work that she modernized is F. J. Furnivall's "Babee's Book,"

which is also published under the title "Early English Meals and

Manners."  (London: Early English Text Society, 1868).  Dr. Furnivall

edited a number of significant manuscripts, including John Russell's

Book of Nurture (c.  1460).  There is another volume, edited by the

same author, which includes more of the same, including works from

other countries, entitled "Queene Elizabethes Achademy" (London: EETS,

1869). Modern reprints are currently published for both books.


Peregrine Payne     Dragon's Mist, An Tir



From: sbloch at euler.ucsd.edu (Steve Bloch)

Date: 20 Oct 91 00:02:28 GMT


kenm at maccs.dcss.mcmaster.ca (...Jose) writes:

>       What sources can the good gentles of the Rialto suggest

>for descriptions of general forms of manners and social

>behavior in northern/western Europe during the Middle Ages?  

>Specifically, I'm interested in how to treat royalty, members

>of the opposite sex and noble strangers.


As this is an eminently period problem, let's look for period

solutions.  Lo! and behold, etiquette was a favorite subject of

medieval and Renaissance writers.  Perhaps the best single example is

the Book of the Courtier, essentially a manual of etiquette and

courtly "how-to"'s.  And now I've forgotten the author -- Castiglione?

and the date, which I think is c. 1500.  Arbeau's famous dance book,

Orchesography, includes quite a bit of discussion of the etiquette of

the dance floor.  And I found in a bookstore last month a 17th-c. book

(reprint!) on "The Eighth Liberall Science", being the Art of Flattery.

There are other primary-source examples, but I'm brain-dead today.


Another approach is to immerse yourself not so much in period

etiquette manuals as period fiction, which is more fun to read and

provides a wealth of dialogue upon which to model your own.

Boccaccio, Chaucer, Malory, and Chretien de Troyes spring to mind (but

keep in mind not only the divers social classes of the characters but

the circumstances of the writer -- e.g. a story presented in verse may

involve more stilted dialogue than would actually have occurred).


Stephen Bloch

mar-Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib


sbloch at math.ucsd.edu



Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 17:27:06 -0700 (PDT)

From: Laura C Minnick <lainie at gladstone.uoregon.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - help needed on knightly virtues/Ideals of Chivalry


Find this book in your local University library, or get the local

library to get it via ILL.-


    F.J.Furnivall, ed. _Early English Meals and Manners_. London,

Early English Text Society, 1868.


In the Furnival you will find these very useful texts:


   The Boke of Curtasye_ (Sloane MS, 1986, British Museum, 1430-1440)

   Wynkyn de Worde's _The Boke of Kervynge_, 1413

   John Russell's _The Book of Nurture_ (Harleian MS. 4011, BrM, mid 15th c.)

   _Ffor to Serve a Lord_ early 16th century


These are all manners and training books- the sort used in a large noble

house to teach the young men. Very, Very useful. There is also a good deal

of material on serving etc., in :


   Bridget Ann Henisch's _Fast and Feast_ (University Park,

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976)


If you have more questions, please ask- I did a term project on servers

and serving for a class I took on Medieval Ceremony and Ritual, and

somewhere I still have the materials. (Probably under the rock, like

everything else...)



- -

Laura C. Minnick



Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 00:08:03 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy at silk.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Looking for John Russell


From: Christina Nevin <cnevin at caci.co.uk>

>I'm trying to find a copy of John Russell's Book of Nurture. I have The

>Babees Book 1908 imprint, but I want the unabridged text of the BON. Does

>anyone know if this has been reprinted this century? And if so, by whom?


>I've seen a copy of the 1894 imprint advertised for sale, but don't really

>want to shell out $250 for it! Any leads appreciated.




What you want is Original Series Volume 32 published by the Early English

Text Society (originally published in 1866). The title is rather confusing;

the title pages gives a lengthy title of the contents*The Babees Book . . .*

etc which lists all the items in it; the half-title says *Meals and Manners

of Olden Time*; while for some reason the publisher of the current re-print

apparently calls it *Early English Meals and Manners* (Huhh???). At any

rate, it is the original edition which all the others since are ripping off.

Lord John Russell's Boke of Nurture is pp. 115-239. The latest reprint

(1997) by the Early English Text Society is distributed by Boydell and

Brewer (in the UK, PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF; there's a

different address for the US, but you are in Britain). The list price is US$

72; I don't have the UK price available. The ISBN is 085991819X.


Yours bibliophilically,

Francesco Sirene



Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000 16:02:21 EST

From: RuddR at aol.com

Subject: SC - Re: table eating utensils


Stefan quotes and writes:

> > << The fundraiser also featured no silverware, as they thought

> >  medieval man ate without utensils. >>

> >

> > Actually, they did eat without utensils other than a knife until relatively

> > late in period. This is the reason why you only use your right hand to serve

> > yourself food with (your left being used for personal cleansing).


> Hmm. Yes, I believe this left-handed thing was a tradition in the Middle East.

> Do you have any evidence that this was ever done with any consistancy in

> the non-Moslem parts of Europe?


I have recently been looking at medieval illuminations of diners at table,

trying to answer this very question.  For the most part, diners are eating

with their right hands, but every now and then, with their left hands (see:

http://www.50megs.com/matterer/medpix/gallery1/mpix18.htm). In some pictures

the diners are reaching into the dishes with one hand while holding morsels

of food in the other (http://www.50megs.com/matterer/medpix/gallery4/mpix115.htm).  So it seems as

though the Islamic stricture against eating with the left hand did not apply

in medieval Christendom.  Perhaps the custom of public hand washing before

dinner had something to do with this.


Rudd Rayfield



Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 02:10:17 -0400

From: Christine A Seelye-King <mermayde at juno.com>

Subject: SC - Table manners


Hello all, I am almost through wading through my backlog of emails, and

found this one I though you might like.  



- --------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Mark Mettler <mettler at bulloch.net>

To: meridian-ty at egroups.com


On Manners:


When Sir Ector delivered the Elegy for Lancelot in Le Morte Darthur he

said, "Thou was the meekest man and the gentelist that ever ate in a

hall among the ladies."


Some simple rules from historical documents:


Do not pet the dog during dinner.


If thou do no drink, even though, offer it unto thy guests and humor

them by pretending to partake.


In all humility and friendship partake from a common plate and cup.


Do not appear gluttony, nor ravenous, nor as a hog a trough, but be

reserved in thy partaking that you seem grateful for the gifts you



Your bones, and shells and other things not fit for thy stomach, throw

upon the floor and do not appears to be wasteful, but having cleanly

removed the worthy before displaying your gratefulness on the floor.


It is best to serve they guest at feast a sauce of bitter taste, a

vinegar sauce and pepper too shall satisfy the tongue oft your food is


- --

Ld. Gryffri de Newmarch




Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 12:27:02 -0400

From: "Jeff Gedney" <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC - feast catapults


Baltahzar writes:

> What makes us think they didn't have food fights? Consider:  Lots of people,

> lots of wine, and lots of food...




Only one or two full outfits in the entire wardrobe...

Washing done entirely by slapping with a wood paddle...

A wool cloak the equivalent of a months labor...

Lots of people with real swords, and knowing how to use them...

Powerful people entirely concerned with "face" and personal standing in court...

Position at Feasts being the chief method of showing status in a highly status conscious society...

Loss of dignity being equated with ineffectiveness...

Feasts being highly formalized societal events...

Challenges to the death for lesser offenses common...



no reason not to throw that Leche lumbardys...

none at all...





Think "Feast = Your Sisters Wedding" and you might get the idea of how

important in a person's social life feasts were, and how likely a person would

toss that gobbet of Venysoun in Cameline Sauce.


Where do you manage to get such arrant supposition?

Watching Roger Corman videos?





Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2004 14:50:30 -0800

From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at jeffnet.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] cooks-list

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


At 12:57 PM 3/13/2004, you wrote:

> my e-mail is captaincuisine at yahoo.com. I enjoy preparing food in the

> medieval style. I am a professional Chef, and have read, and cooked, in

> the medieval style. I would like to have some advice about some of the

> tableside manners from the medieval age.

> Thank you, Adam


Well, here's a start- the bibliography from my serving handout:


A Generall Rule to teche every man that is willynge for to lerne, to serve

a lorde of mayster in every hyng to his plesure. Edited by R.W.

Chambers,  a XVth c. MS in the British Museum (MS Addl. 37969)

(Published as A Fifteenth-Century Courtesy Book by the Early English  

Text Society, London, 1914)


          Book of Curtasye. (Sloane MS. 1986, British Museum. c. 1460.)


          Boke of Kervynge. Wynkyn de Worde, printed in London, 1513.




          Ffor to serve a lord.  (15th c English text)

may be found in:


Early English meals and manners : John Russell's Boke of nurture,  

Wynkyn deWorde's Boke of keruynge, The boke of curtasye, R. Weste's Booke of

demeanor, Seager's Schoole of vertue, The babees book, Aristole's A B C,

Urbanitatis, Stans puer ad mensam, The lytylle childrenes lytil boke, For

to serve a lord, Old Symon, The birche school_boy, &c., with some

forewords on education in early England / Edited by Frederick J. Furnivall

   Publisher London : Pub. for the Early English Text Society by Kegan

Paul, Trench, Trčbner & Co., 1868, reprinted 1894


Boke of Kervynge is also aailable on-line at:



          There is a second copy of the Sloane MS 1986 text, edited by James

O. Halliwell, and printed in London by the Percy Society, in 1916. The body

of the text in both editions is idetical.


The picture referred to in note 41 may be found in:


Fast and Feast, by Bridget Ann Henisch (Penn State, 1976) pg 167.


Look for "Early English Meals and Manners_- it is not just the one text

I've cited, but a number of them. Keep looking. Hassle our librarian and

use ILL with great abandon. And feel free to contact me on or off list.  

I'm happy to help.





Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 21:53:08 -0400

From: Robin Carroll-Mann <rcmann4 at earthlink.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] What Not to Eat

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


I was hunting through the _Arte de Cortar_, a 1423 Spanish carving

manual, and came across something unexpected.  The author is discussing

the ideal habits and qualities of young men who are to serve the King at

table.  They should be clean, respectful, decorous, etc. Then he says,

"Concerning this, they must keep themselves from things contrary to the

said conditions and customs; especially, from eating garlic, onions,

leeks, and cilantro, shallots, and the electuary of hemp leaf, which the

Moors call alhaxixa."


An electuary is a medical compound, made into a paste with honey, or

with sugar and water.  (De Nola has a recipe for an electuary of sour

cherries, meant to stimulate the appetite of invalids.) The 1729 RAE

dictionary says that hemp leaves have an "abominable odor".  So, is

electuary of hemp a cause of bad breath?


Brighid ni Chiarain

Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom



Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 10:02:56 -0500 (GMT-05:00)

From: Christiane <christianetrue at earthlink.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Paul LaCroix's book on Project Gutenberg

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


The Project Gutenberg EBook of Manners, Custom and Dress During the  

Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period, by Paul Lacroix




Some interesting nuggets of information, and lots of period illustrations.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org