Meaning Monday – Etiquette

Versailles (Large)
The Orangerie at Versailles without its oranges. Without the étiquettes these paterres would have stood little chance of survival from the red heeled nobleman racing to grovel at the Sun King’s feet.


Sadly lacking these days alas, etiquette by definition is “the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group”

What most people do not know that it stems from a direct reference to Louis XIV.

The etiquette of the French court at Versailles was absolute and extreme. Who could sit, who must stand, who could sit on a chair or only a stool, how women walked, talked, dressed…everything was governed to some degree by etiquette.

The original use of the word came about because Louis XIV’s recently finished palace of Versailles was overrun with sycophantic courtiers and aristocrats desperate to hob nob with his imperial majesty.  Consequently they were rather negligent about the gardens when the monarch hoved into view and were want to trample over the grass in their eagerness to get a shufti.

So in an effort to preserve the grounds the first ever “Keep off the grass” signs where placed around Versailles on little cards or in French “étiquettes” – little tickets.

So what started as a sign now familiar to most people who gaze longingly at immaculately cut grass upon which they are forbidden to tread are observing the first rule of étiquette.

Don’t get me started on the origins of Courtesy!




    1. It really is fascinating. The whole artificiality of it all is amazing and the lavish lifestyles were extraordinary and yet death was always just around the corner.

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  1. Quite fascinating. The 1996 French film “Ridicule” which takes place during Louis XVI shows Versailles still being “overrun with sycophantic courtiers and aristocrats desperate to hob nob with his imperial majesty.” It is a great movie if you haven’t seen it yet. Shows also it a place “where social status can rise and fall based on one’s ability to mete out witty insults and avoid ridicule oneself.” [Wikipedia]

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    1. I have seen it and found it fascinating but horrifying at the scathing cruelty which I am sure must have sprung up amongst an essentially captive audience each vying for attention. Still, rather a nice gilded cage to be caught in. 🙂

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      1. agree, and then there is the added cruelty of the conditions of the majority of people were living in outside the gilded cage. It becomes hard to feel sorry for those on the inside, even though for them personally it must have a constant state of social anxiety

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  2. Although I had guessed that the word ‘etiquette’ had French origins, I did not know that story of how it actually came into being. Very interesting facts, thanks for sharing.
    As for courtesy, don’t get me started either!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you found it interesting Judy and thanks as always for your comments. I really enjoy and appreciate them. I am having a hectic week accompanying a trip to Canberra so have been off the blog a while. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, it sounds like things are pretty manic for you TJ. It is great that you have still been able to post your haiku challenge for this week, or I might have had to have had stern words with you!!!! Hope you have an enjoyable time left in Canberra 🙂

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