IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 216: Social Etiquettes at Court in East and West

Monday 9 July 2012, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Thomas Brown, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
Paper 216-aDos and Don'ts in the King's Hall: Etiquette and Social Hierarchy at Early Medieval Irish Courts
(Language: English)
Caroline Geher, Universit├Ąt Wien
Index terms: Language and Literature - Celtic, Mentalities, Social History
Paper 216-b'To be adorned with manners': An Examination of 12th-Century Practical Rules of Etiquette as Described in Urbanus Magnus, Attributed to Daniel of Beccles
(Language: English)
Fiona Whelan, Wolfson College, University of Oxford
Index terms: Daily Life, Education, Language and Literature - Latin, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 216-cTransgressions: Is It Possible to Have Rules, but No Enforcement? - The Instance of Sumptuary Rules in Constantinople
(Language: English)
Timothy Dawson, Independent Scholar, Leeds
Index terms: Administration, Byzantine Studies, Daily Life
Paper 216-dSocial Etiquette and Political Success in the Fatimid, Buyid, and Abbasid Courts of the 11th Century
(Language: English)
Rachel Howes, Department of History, California State University, Northridge
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Political Thought, Politics and Diplomacy, Social History

Paper -a:
Inside the king’s hall, social matters tend to get more complicated. Who is allowed to sit near the king? Whose honour depends on guarding the doors? Why is it never a good idea to turn down the first cup of mead – if it is served by the queen herself? Why shouldn’t one be looking at the king while he is eating? Using an interdisciplinary approach, this paper aims at discerning various social rules of etiquette and their agents, defining their place and function in early Irish noble society.

Paper -b:
This paper seeks to place the 12th-century Latin text known as Urbanus Magnus or The Book of the Civilised Man in the context of courtesy literature. Attributed to a certain Daniel of Beccles, Urbanus Magnus stands at the genesis of the didactic genre of courtesy literature which sought to regulate social behaviour through prescribed rules. Its importance lies in the wealth and diversity of advice and rules stipulated within the text. With a specific focus on the rules and regulations surrounding table manners, as set down in Urbanus Magnus, this paper seeks to examine both the sources and originality of the text, along with its uses and audience.

Paper -c:
The composite work known as the Book of Ceremonies was compiled between the late 9th and mid-10th century to record the practice of the court of Constantinople. It contains extensive and intricate stipulations as to the dress of men, women, and eunuchs of the court, both in terms of the standard regalia of their ranks and variations for special occasions. Yet it is not a legalistic document. There is no reference within it to methods of regulation or penalties for non-conformity. Nor does a wider survey of literature from the period and area offer many other hints. So, is it possible to have regulation without enforcement? Would informal processes or peer scrutiny be enough to prevent transgressions? Was it simply not worth the effort?
If circumstances allow, a re-enactment of one of the minor ceremonies of elevation described in the Book of Ceremonies could be presented.

Paper -d:
In medieval Islamic courts of the Middle Ages there were plenty of written rules, but success in the political and administrative sphere depended very much on one’s social and intellectual connections. These were only achieved through understanding and following the rules of sociability. This paper looks at the courts of the 11th century and compares the unwritten rules that operated in the well-known and well-studied Abbasid court of Baghdad with the lesser known courts of Buyid Shiraz and Fatimid Cairo. It postulates that the etiquette of Baghdad differs from the norms in the other courts.