May I Sit Here?

Probably not.

Of all the strange rules and etiquette one had to follow at the Palace of Versailles, the rules about who got to sit where (and when) are perhaps the most bizarre. It was a well known rule that you were not allowed to sit in the presence of the king and queen unless you were a visiting monarch. Everybody else had to conform to seating arrangements based on their rank.

“May I sit here?”

Armchairs

Armchair of Louis XIV
Armchair of Louis XIV
Image by faungg

The king and queen always had an armchair to sit on. In their presence, no one else was allowed an armchair, unless you were also a monarch. That meant only visiting kings and queens were allowed an armchair in the presence of the French monarchy!

Princes and princesses of the royal bloodline were allowed to sit on armless chairs – that meant the king’s brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and children.

High Ranking Nobles

A padded stool was provided for dukes and duchesses, which they were allowed to perch on before His Majesty.

Stools for high-ranking nobles
Photo by Derek Key
Stools for high-ranking nobles
Photo by Derek Key

Everybody else was expected to stand.

In fact, the only time lesser-ranking nobles were allowed to sit in His Majesty’s presence was if they were at the theatre, at church or playing cards. Perhaps that’s why the French court were so well known for enjoying a gamble!

Too lazy to sit

Being a very high-ranking noble certainly had its privileges – such people did not even have to leave their beds to receive visitors! If a duke, princess or the king or queen desired it, they could easily arrange for visitors while they were still in bed.

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