Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
Libertine Attitudes and Etiquette
This is an Opt-In Article.
When dealing with etiquette in 17th century England it is important to remember that this is neither the Victorian Age (prim and proper in public but debauched in close quarters) nor the Regency period (etiquette gone mad where a single mistake will see you destroyed forever). This is the Merry Court, a reaction to the very repressed Puritan age of before.
In our definitions we have sought to display what is the standard at the English Court. Commoners, and those gentry of a Puritan background, may have different, more prudish standards, which contributes to their vision of the London Court as debauched and sinful, a public display of a wasteful monarch that did not care about his citizens.
Libertine Behaviour not frowned upon
- carefree, frank even suggestive conversation
- games like hide and seek and bogey man, ending in a kiss on the lips and a fondle
- a pat on or a squeeze of a ladies bottom
- anything done for a laugh without exposing to much
- deep necklines for ladies, with the forever threat of their bosoms falling out and showing a nipple.
- being in public while visibly pregnant
- receiving gentlemen not part of the family in a ladies boudoir with a chaperone present
- a painting of a lady of quality showing a breast naked
- a lady wearing breeches in the privacy of her own home, garden etc. for practical reasons. The Queen of England was known to wear breeches from time to time.
Libertine Behaviour frowned upon
While debauchery was certainly around, it doesn't mean that it was permissible in society. For shock effect some of the younger courtiers went further than ever before, calling themselves the Merry Gang. However, this was not the standard of society (or where would have been the fun in that). This includes:
- the use of foul words like fuck, swive and cunt in conversation or on the stage. Most swearwords of the 21st century were rude even then.
- showing ankles or legs in public, especially naked.
- paintings of a lady of quality completely naked
- ladies or gentlemen running around naked or showing their arse
- anything in public that is more than a kiss on the lips and a fondle
- a lady wearing breeches in public, posing as a man and doing masculine things such as fencing, tennis etc.