“Ladies & Gentlemen”
Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier is a sort of guide to the qualities expected of ladies and gentlemen of the court. Book of the work is a long conversation on the proper station of the court ladies. The discussion on the Court lady began from an argument over the proper way to tell a joke to a woman. The Court lady was to have cautiousness, continence, and fairness, to "shun affectation," be graceful and well mannered, modest, clever, never jealous or insulting, loyal and in good repute with her mistress and skilled. For her more than for the gentleman it was important to have good looks and to appear virtuous at all times so as to avoid suspicions of immodest behavior, which would be very harmful to her reputation. She was also to have all the qualities common to women, like goodness, maturity, and good nature, as well as being a competent house keeper, care giver and mother. Socially she was expected to be charming, honest, and humorous. Most important for the Court lady was to achieve a proper balance between modesty and charm. She was especially advised to avoid any immodest conversation, such as gossip. She was to be knowledgeable in a variety of subjects. She was to be able to both joke and be serious, and avoid conversation topics she was not familiar with, while being active in those she was. In all conversation she was recommended to avoid showing off, or giving false impressions. The importance of being graceful in everything was highly emphasized. Because of this she was supposed to avoid any activity considered masculine, especially physical activities, and "should in no way be like a man as regards her ways, manners, words, gestures and behavior." She was instead expected to be soft, tender, sweet and gentle and to participate in more graceful things like dancing and painting. Along with grace, effortlessness was also an important quality for her, especially in dress and...
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