We know the Middle Ages was a transition period between the civilized “Classical World” of Greece and Rome; and modern civilization that grew from out of the 18th century “Enlightenment”. The Middle Ages was a period in which “civilization” was… well… shall we say a work in progress?

An example of this is a list of table manners from a 13th century French book on etiquette; a list of “do’s and don’ts” (mostly don’ts). Keep in mind the nature of Medieval castle dining, in which the guests at a given feast sat side-by-side, at long tables; often seated next to a neighbor they did not know:

  • At table, do not blow thy nose upon thine neighbor’s sleeve. (One’s own sleeve, presumably, was acceptable!)
  • Do not spit into the washing bowl when it is passed to you.
  • Do not dip thy fingers into the gravy bowl past the first digit.
  • Do not dip thine meat directly into the salt cellar (Note: a fancy salt bowl).

  • Do not wipe thy hands upon the table cloth.
  • Always swallow thy food and wipe thy mouth before drinking from thy cup.
  • Do not pick thy teeth with thine knife.
  • Do not feed the hounds beneath the table with thine hands.
  • Do not throw thine knawed bones over thy shoulder, without first looking behind thee to avoid hitting a servitor. (Bad form!)

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  1. Keith Manuel says:

    Really enjoyed your series on Arthur. This entry was short, funny, and ultimately still relevant today, at least the spirit of its advice is.

    • barrycjacobsen says:

      Thank you, Keith! Watch for the next installment of the Age of Arthur: it should be posted by the end of the weekend/early next week! I’m glad you have enjoyed it…

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