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How to bow

Precedence, table manners and courtesy held together the fabric of society. When you are likely to be present at court it is vital to know how to doff ones cap and bow to those of superior status and those of lower. Anyone approaching the king must do so with a triple set of bows and remain kneeling until bidden to rise. When you eat without a fork you must come to table with immaculately manicured fingernails, and those whose lowlier status obliges them to “share a mess” with one or two fellows must not offend them by the way he takes and eats his food. As the middle ages give way to the renaissance, royalty and nobles increasingly take their meals in a private chamber but for major feasts or important visitors the older tradition of dining in hall is kept. Here is the “high table” on its raised dais, highly honoured guests are placed “above” and slightly lesser ones “below the salt”. If you don’t qualify for the high table you hope to be seated on the “reward”. Meanwhile the ewerer will wash hands, the carver must know the proper procedure and nomenclature for dismembering every kind of flesh, fish or fowl where an immense variety of meats from peacock to dolphin may appear at table. The butler provides the wine and ale, the pantler the bread – fine white manchets with the coveted “upper crust” for the noblest; wholemeal bread for the rest. Wheaten bread of all kinds is valued: poorer folk must content themselves with rye or barley bread, oatcakes, even loaves of milled pulses in hard times. Even in its alfresco picnic mood, correct etiquette is still observed at all times, not just mealtimes.


How not to bow!


1. Don't show the inside of your hat 2) Don't hold the pomel of your sword
3) Show your face!  4) Keep your back straight!