Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Manners Maketh Gentlemen (and Ladies)

Early 1870s fashion
Mid-Victorian Manners
In 1872 Etiquette of Good Society was informing its readers that good manners were an essential part of ‘a pleasant and agreeable member of society’. Learning, having a good character or any manner of accomplishments were not sufficient. In 1903 the mantra was unchanged and the book still proclaimed that;

‘A true lady will be quite natural and easy in her manners, and this will have the effect of putting those at their ease who are in her company, whatever their station in life.’[i]
Although we must suppose that the lady would not be allowing her servants their ease until their daily 10 or 12 hour toil was completed.

The Etiquette informs us in the introduction that the manners of previous generations did not measure up to the standards of today and foreigners too did not make the grade. Were these codified manners the result of a need to put lesser mortals in their place? The 1872 codex of formality was an addition to the unwritten informalities of Georgian society. In Victorian times far more people aspired to the gentilities of the rich and aristocratic.
By 1893 things were not much changed and the February edition of the Lady stated

‘It is a good thing for everyone that there are rules by which Society… held together and enable to work smoothly and easily.’[ii]
Fin de Siècle Uncertainty

Lady Colin Campbell
Lady Colin Campbell[iii] became editor of the Etiquette of Good Society and revised it in August 1880, some years before her 1886 lurid trial for a divorce from her husband, Lord Colin Campbell a son of the Duke of Argyll. Lady Colin failed to follow the need for discretion as both she and her husband were reputed to have had several lovers[iv].
Nearly 100,000 copies of the guide to manners had been sold and it was not alone; a rival publication, Manners for Men, was first published in 1897 and there was a companion volume for women. The fast increasing middle class brought uncertainty to its newer members and these guides were a way to negotiate the shibboleths laid down by those who had always belonged.

The question of who to know was almost as complex as who not to know; and naturally these dilemmas found their way into fiction;
‘He did not know enough of Tom’s people, while to have the acquaintance of the right people and of no one else was part of his creed…….these people, of whom he knew nothing, might not be the right people.’[v]
Meeting the Right People
1880s fashion
Even more complex was the art of visiting; visits were to be paid on occasions requiring congratulations, commiseration, courtesy calls and then general calls. And then there was the vexed question of leaving cards and who left them and whose were left and where they were left and how they were left. A card leaving was to be returned within the week; a lady would sit outside in her carriage while her footman left the appropriate number of cards.
Most upper and middle class Victorian women were acutely conscious of the number of cards left on the tray in the hall. A decrease in their number could be attributable to rumour and a woman’s sexual virtue was an imperative. A woman like Lady Colin Campbell would not have been received in the best society due to her sexual misdeeds[vi].

A follow on from the art of leaving a card was the formal call, to last no more than 15 minutes. It was the precursor to a return call from a prospective acquaintance. Only then could an invitation to visit be proffered. These obligations were of course for ladies only;
‘Men, as a rule, do not pay these visits of ceremony; and it would appear that they have always shirked their duties in this respect.’[vii]
advises the Etiquette of Good Society. Meeting the right people was essential for a mother with daughters to marry off; easier if you were one of the Upper Ten Thousand as the aristocracy were called. And for a woman almost any man was better than the prospect of being a spinster at the elderly age of thirty.

Formal Etiquette
1890s fashion
The etiquette manuals advised on matters great and small; a publication like the Etiquette of Good Society advised not only on how to behave, but also how to organise events like balls, marriages, christenings and funerals. The book, with an eye to a monied audience, advises that weddings should preferably be held in the country in the summer;
‘We advise them to decide, if possible, upon summer as the season, and the country as the place. Winter weddings and those in town are alike profoundly dispiriting.’[viii]
All the celebratory events had their own rules as did having guests to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even supper, 

‘Supper tables can be made to look nice and tempting enough by the bestowal of a little care and ingenuity upon them. The garnishing of dishes adds greatly to the general appearance of the table.’[ix]

We are informed that leftovers can be swiftly turned into hot savoury dishes for an informal supper; the remaining pieces of chicken can be fricasseed while the rabbit leftovers can be turned into a curry, oysters can be scalloped and an omelette cooked. These dishes are to be followed by tarts and cakes and other dainties.
The ordering of balls, garden parties, field sports, excursions, picnics and even private theatricals are detailed for those who were not brought up to manage such affairs. New money meant that penniless aristocrats might marry American railroad heiresses.

Consuelo Vanderbilt
And while a girl like Consuelo Vanderbilt might have been schooled in etiquette, ready for her marriage to an English aristocrat, even she might be afraid of committing a faux-pas in highly critical aristocratic circles. But many of the Dollar Princesses did not possess the social acumen required.
The Etiquette of Good Society even has a chapter on attending court; a pleasure surely denied all but the most august of its readers.
‘Any lady who proposes to be presented must leave at the Lord Chamberlain’s office……two clear days previous to that on which the Drawing Room is held, a card with her name written theron, and one with the name of the lady by whom she is to be presented.’[x]
Everyday Etiquette
For the upwardly mobile male desirous of avoiding social pitfalls there was Manners for Men, which included advice on etiquette while driving;
‘A gentleman driving a mail phaeton in the park with a lady by his side must, of course, acknowledge all salutes by raising his hat, if he is sufficiently expert to admit of his doing so without risk. It is not everyone who can emulate the Prince of Wales, who, when driving a coach, can take a cigar from his lips and raise his hat with the whip hand.’[xi]
The book’s more laid back approach is in contrast to the formality of the Etiquette of Good Society and includes expectations in regard to smoking;
‘It is now no uncommon thing to see a man in evening dress smoking in a brougham with a lady……This is going rather far, for a woman’s evening dress…..become as much impregnated with the odour of tobacco as if she had herself been smoking.’[xii]
And Manners for Men even has a chapter on using the omnibus, a method of transportation resolutely ignored by Etiquette of Good Society.

The Important Matter of Dress
Mrs Hugh Hammersley 1892
Not only what one did but also the way one dressed was a minefield;
‘There is no easier method by which to detect the real lady from the sham one than by noticing her style of dress. Vulgarity is readily distinguished…… the breach of certain rules of harmony and fitness.’[xiii]
The lady desirous of producing a good impression would spend a lot of her time dressing in the appropriate garb;
‘The costume for paying calls when on foot differs from that which should be worn when driving in a carriage……It may be light or dark, according to the season; but it must not be gay………..Carriage dress has much more licence. Handsome costumes, made of rich silken materials…..are suitable when driving.’[xiv]
As a finale to its chapter on dress Manners for Men concludes;
”What all men should avoid is the ‘shabby genteel.’ No man ever gets over it…..You had better be in rags.”’[xv]
John Singer Sargent
The books advise not only on what it is appropriate to wear at what venue (the Etiquette of Good Society going so far as to advise its readers as to the wedding attire of Richard Coeur de Lion)[xvi], but also what it should be made of;
 ‘For sea-side and country use, a complete suit of dark-blue serge or mixed tweed is found the most suitable wear.’[xvii]
Desperate to conform, how many people overspent their income enabling them to be seen as the right sort?

Etiquette of Good Society – Lady Colin Campbell (Ed), Cassell & Company Ltd 1903
The English Illustrated Magazine, Macmillan & Co 1884
Love and Marriage in the Great Country Houses – Adeline Hartcup, Sidgewick & Jackson 1984

Manners for Men – Mrs Humphry, Webb & Bower (Publishers) Ltd 1979
Victorian High Society – Stella Margetson, BT Batsford Ltd 1980

The Social Calendar – Anna Sproule, Blandford Press 1978

[i] Etiquette of Good Society - Campbell
[ii] The Social Calendar - Sproule
[iii] Born Gertrude Blood, Lady Colin was a writer; her husband was a brother-in-law of the Duchess of Argyll, one of Queen Victoria’s daughters
[iv] Lord Colin contracted syphilis and passed it on to his wife
[v] The Story of a Courtship – Weyman, from the English Illustrated Magazine
[vi] This did not of course apply to men
[vii] Etiquette of Good Society - Campbell
[viii] Etiquette of Good Society - Campbell
[ix] Ibid
[x] Ibid
[xi] Manners for Men – Mrs Humphry
[xii] Ibid
[xiii] Etiquette of Good Society - Campbell
[xiv] Ibid
[xv] Manners for Men – Mrs Humphry
[xvi] Allegedly a rose coloured silk tunic with a silver cloak and a rose coloured bonnet embroidered with gold
[xvii] Etiquette of Good Society - Campbell

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

100 Years War - Bertrand du Guesclin VII

The Annexation of Brittany
Charles V
In 1378 it became clear that Charles of Navarre was plotting with Jean V against Charles V. French forces under the command of the Duke of Burgundy and Bertrand quickly took control of the towns and castles of the two plotters.
The exception was the town of Cherbourg, which was unsuccessfully besieged by Bertrand. The Castilian navy thwarted an English attempt to raise the siege but during an ambush Olivier du Guesclin and one of Bertrand’s cousins were taken prisoner[i]. Bertrand then quarrelled with Jean le Mercier[ii], the king’s treasurer.

Despite his army having seen off an English attempt to retake St Malo, Charles V now decided on the wholesale annexation of Brittany. As far back as the 11th August 1373 the records show debate as to whether;
‘The King should summon……..the lord Jehan, or not, in case he should want to confiscate the duchy of Brittany.’[iii]
On 18th December 1378 the Paris Parlement dispossessed Jean V of his duchy. It was not until April the following year that Charles moved to implement the Parlement’s verdict; he summonsed the Bretons under his command; Bertrand, de Clisson, the Viscount of Rohan and the Lord of Laval[iv], to inform them that he was sending Royal Commissioners in to take control of Brittany. Charles made them swear on the true cross and the bible that they would support this enterprise.

Rebellion in Brittany
Within days a Breton league had established itself as a provisional government[v] and Laval and Rohan joined it. The league decided to call Jean V back to Brittany and Laval and Beaumanoir travelled to London to discuss the matter with Jean V. Support for Jean V came from an unlikely source; the widow of his erstwhile opponent, Charles of Blois; Jeanne de Pénthievre[vi] supported the league against Charles.
Saint Servan
On 3rd August the delegation returned from England accompanied by Jean V and an English squadron. Jean V was welcomed on the beach at Saint-Servan by a large crowd of Bretons of all ranks. Bertrand was based at Saint-Malo, but he failed to move against his fellow Bretons. Although he did have a conversation with the commander of the English squadron, Hugh Calveley, by means of yelling at each other across the intervening waters.
Bertrand kept Louis d’Anjou updated with regular bulletins, including details of Jean V’s actions. Jean V had written to all Breton nobles asking for their support;
‘Except to my brother Clisson[vii], I think, and to myself.’[viii]
Olivier de Clisson
Within weeks of his return Jean V was already seeking a compromise with Louis d’Anjou. Jean V had not got the money or manpower to see off a determined French invasion. On the other hand who knew better than Bertrand that Brittany was ideal terrain for guerrilla warfare? No-one on the French side wanted another war in Brittany, bar de Clisson whose personal feud with Jean V threatened to tip the balance on a number of occasions.
Jean V had eschewed English help in holding his duchy, which removed one of the main strategic reasons for French intervention. In his report to Louis d’Anjou Bertrand expressed his doubts about Jean V’s ability to hold out without English support. Bertrand’s troops were based at Avranches, with him were the dukes of Anjou and Bourbon, while de Clisson threatened Nantes and Derval from the southern end of the Breton marshes.

Louis d'Anjou
Diplomatic channels were opened, but before the discussions could amount to anything Louis d’Anjou got called away to deal with a tax revolt[ix] in the Languedoc where he was Lieutenant Governor. It was now that several of Bertrand’s enemies[x] decried him to Charles V, claiming that Bertrand was working on behalf of Jean V. A coolness in the relationship between Charles V and his Constable followed this slander. But Bertrand was supported by Louis d’Anjou and Bertrand wrote thanking him for this support;
‘To the honour and praise of myself, so that the King was well pleased…and so that I am now in his good grace and shall be even more so.’[xi]
On 1st March 1380 Jean V concluded a new alliance with Richard II. The threatened war erupted with a chevauchée launched by Thomas of Woodstock[xii]. The fighting in Brittany was not concluded until after the death of both Charles V and Bertrand.

Louis VII

In 1376 one of Bertrand’s men, a Sylvestre Budes, left him to form his own company. Sylvestre was executed in 1380; either in Paris as a suspected traitor or in Maçon as a traitor to the Antipope Clement VII. Budes’ men committed atrocities in Italy in support of the Pope in Avignon. Froissart informs us that Bertrand lamented the death of this old friend.
Insurgency in Languedoc
To avoid straining the Constable’s loyalties, or perhaps because of the slurs against him from the king’s counsellors, Bertrand was not required to command the French forces in Brittany; many of Bertrand’s friends and relatives had rallied to Jean V’s call. Instead Bertrand was ordered down to the Auvergne to make war on the Free Companies investing the area.

The leaders of these groups were battle hardened men including Bertucat d’Albray, Pierre de Galard and Pérrot de Béarn[xiii]. There were also Bretons active in the area; Bernard de Garlan[xiv] and Geoffroi Tête-Noire were well placed to threaten the rear of the French forces poised to attack Brittany. 
Louis d’Anjou had been over-extended and his appointment as governor of Brittany had distracted him from his duties in Languedoc. The tax revolt in Montpellier was one of the repercussions of this distraction. At Easter 1380;

‘Messengers came from the Commons of Languedoc to Paris to see the King, and they explained to him the state in which the country was…..and begged of him that he send them a captain of his, to keep and defend the country against the enemies and the Companies that were in it.’[xv]
The Commons also undertook to subsidise the campaign and Charles gave them Bertrand, charged with the retaking of the lands taken by the Companies.

Death of a Hero
Meung sur Loire
Bertrand was supported in his mission by the dukes of Bourbon and Berry. There was also support from such towns as Le Puy[xvi] and Saint-Flour, suffering from the mismanagement of the companies. By 28th May Bertrand and his troops were at Meung-sur-Loire en route to the Auvergne. By early June Bertrand was the guest of the Duc de Bourbon at Moulins.
By the 10th June Bertrand and his troops had reached Clermont where he joined forces with the Duc de Berry. From there Bertrand sent to the Consuls of Saint-Flour, advising them to prepare for a siege of the castle at Chaliers. He also planned to besiege Chateauneuf du Randon, held by de Galard, before attacking the main Companies stronghold at Carlat, held by Bertucat d’Albret[xvii].

From May the town of Aurillac was paying tribute to d’Albret’s men; on 21st May Saint-Flour had purchased a three months truce from the English holding Chaliers. The townspeople of Saint-Flour were ordered to return their peace treaty to the English. This was done and on the 20th June the French army invested Chaliers. There were 500 men from Saint-Flour fighting with du Guesclin’s men. They also provisioned the army and provided two trebuchets.
Death of Bertrand
The walls were bombarded for seven days and were then breached. The defenders immediately surrendered. The royal army immediately moved on, leaving behind the Duc de Berry and the men of Saint-Flour. They may have set up camp before the well fortified and provisioned Chateauneuf de Radon as early as 28th June. According to the Chanson de Bertrand;
‘Bertrand made an assault before two weeks had passed

But he conquered naught, and his people had a hard time of it.’[xviii]

The defenders were aware that there was no likelihood of relief and de Galard agreed to surrender if he did not receive help before Friday 13th July. Hostages were sent to the besiegers and the fighting was suspended. But on that day Bertrand fell died; feeling ill several days before, he had already threatened the garrison with reprisals if they failed to surrender and they took note. Chateuneuf de Radon duly surrendered.
Bertrand du Guesclin
As befits a hero of France Bertrand was laid to rest in royal mausoleum in the chapel of St Denis, buried with honours;
‘As though he had been the King’s son.’[xix]
Bertrand’s replacement as Constable was his companion in arms and rival Olivier de Clisson. The post had been offered to Enguerrand VII de Coucy, but he declined the honour. Bertrand’s royal master died two months later on 13th September, to be succeeded by his son Charles VI.

The Chanson of Bertrand ends;

‘And so ends the story of Bertrand, may God be his friend!

God the Father give us peace and Paradise,

And may He chastise all our enemies.’[xx]

Edward III – Bryan Bevan, The Rubicon Press 1992

The Hundred Years War – Alfred Burne, Folio Society 2005
Chronicles – Froissart, Penguin Books Ltd 1968

Edward III – WM Ormrod, Tempus Publishing Ltd 2005
The Monks of War – Desmond Seward, Folio Society 2000

A  Distant Mirror – Barbara Tuchman, Pan MacMillan Publishers Ltd 1989
The Flower of Chivalry – Richard Vernier, The Boydell Press 2003

[i] Olivier was imprisoned in London until his ransom was paid
[ii] Later, having amassed an enormous fortune, the hugely unpopular le Mercier was accused of speculation and fell from power in 1392
[iii] The Flower of Chivalry - Vernier
[iv] His foremost Breton supporters to date
[v] In opposition to Louis d’Anjou who had been made the king’s lieutenant in Brittany
[vi] Whose children were also dispossessed
[vii] Who had a personal quarrel with Jean V
[viii] The Flower of Chivalry - Vernier
[ix] A number of royal officials were hacked to death in Montpellier by a mob
[x] Including Bureau de la Riviére and le Mercier with whom Bertrand had already quarrelled. These courtiers may not have appreciated Bertrand’s habit of plain speaking
[xi] The Flower of Chivalry - Vernier
[xii] Earl of Buckingham and one of the new king’s uncles, later to be Duke of Gloucester
[xiii] All scions of reputable families; between 1317 and 1369 two members of the de Galard family were Bishop of Condom
[xiv] Who had fought for the English during the war, capturing the Chateau d’Alleuze
[xv] The Flower of Chivalry - Vernier
[xvi] Where Bertrand had given a suit of armour to the shrine of the Black Madonna
[xvii] A cousin of de Galard, d’Albret came from Gascony and in the fifteenth century a family member would inherit the throne of Navarre
[xviii] The Flower of Chivalry - Vernier
[xix] A Distant Mirror - Tuchman
[xx] The Flower of Chivalry - Vernier