A Little History
It all began with a little rules.
Back when kings and queens ruled the earth, etiquette was written for people who lived in the royal courts and castles on ‘how to behave’. They were probably members of the royal family, privileged cousins and royal staff.
Fun fact: A little bird told me that the first etiquette rule was in french and it meant ‘stay off the grass’!
It was there where the art of ‘how to be a lady’ has been studied, polished and refined. Guidelines were written, or should I say, loosely enforced rules about almost every topic under the sun. One example is of in a matter of greeting and socializing, who had the ‘right’ to speak first and who should not speak unless being spoken to. Other guidelines included how you should stand, bow, curtsey, what you should wear and how you should behave in the front of the king.
How to be a Lady from the Bible
This can even be traced all the way back to Queen Esther in the Bible.
When a new queen was to be chosen, the king had a person in charge, Hegai who is in charge of the women. He would prepare the candidates, potential queens for the King to choose.
…Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is charge of the women: and let beauty treatments be given to them. (Esther 2:3)
He was to advise what they would wear, eat, how they would behave and present themselves to the king.
The story goes on to show how Esther was a wise woman who did whatever she was told, did not make any demands even though it was a prestigious position to be in, unlike the other women who may insisted on doing it their way.
Esther ‘pleased him and won his favor’ (Esther 2:9) She took all the special food, beauty treatments and training, humbly allowing herself to be shaped by this man, who of course, knew what the king favored. (How smart is that?)
She eventually was made queen by the king.
How to be a Lady from ‘Marie Anoinette’
Queen Marie Anoinette
The customs in those days was that lower ranking courtiers couldn’t speak first to those of higher ranks. They could only respond.
They also had rules on what to wear in certain places, such as at dinner, to bed or in the garden. Queen Marie Anoinette reportedly got herself into ‘trouble’ later on when she built her own private garden in the courts of Versailles. It was her happy place where she played with her daughter and ran around freely in a loosened version of her court dress. It was highly disapproved.
How Manners, Etiquette, The Art of Being a lady Evolved
Marie Anoinette in her ‘garden’ attire.
As people became more educated and wealthy, more refined manners of living were passed down to their children.
Decorum, social graces become established among wealthy aristocrat families, which was greatly influenced by their education and exposure to the finer things in life.