A Short History of Manners

Louis XIV's Court

     Manners originated thousands of years ago as rules for proper social conduct among members of a group.  Depending on the society or the group within a society, manners could be simple or very complex.  The manners appropriate at the royal court of France during the 17th century were very complex.  The elaborate etiquette that developed in the French court soon spread to the upper classes and courts of western Europe. King Louis XIV even had his preferred manners printed up on cards and distributed to his noble. Many of Washington’s Rules of Civility from yesterday fall within the simple group and some (but not all) are used today.

Emily Post

      As a culture changes, so does its’ manners.  What would be considered appropriate in the United States might be insulting in other cultures.  What was appropriate behavior a century ago might be inappropriate today.  The advent of technology alone brings up issues that must be addressed. 

      While Washington provided the first set of rules for the United States, debutante Emily Post wrote the first book of etiquette in 1922.  Later, Amy Vanderbilt wrote Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Guide to Etiquette which has gone through numerous editions.  Vanderbilt was joined by Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners.

Amy Vanderbilt

     During the month of June, Rita Bay’s blog will post blogs on Manners in History, Contemporary Etiquette, Workplace Etiquette, and Courting Etiquette.  Using primary sources (books written in the 19th century), we’ll check out how things were, many of which are humorous.  Later posts will share up-to-date info on introductions, conversations, dining, and workplace behavior. 

Tomorrow,  Recipes for Success    Rita Bay

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