Renaissance History
Nonsense Catchall | Humor | Herbs | Stories | Renfaire | Brainwaves | Graphics | Sentimental


In addition to sending out emails, I'm placing the monthly/weekly/daily newsletters here for the purpose of reference etc. I will cite sources as needed.

October 9, 2005-

Added a page with the Edward VI doc in webpage format for those who do not wish to download/save the doc below.

I've been gathering some references, and have saved them as Word documents. If I come up with more information, I will make new documents rather than changing these here.

Here they are:

Acting Tips | You Know You've Been at Faire Too Long When... | Health and Hygiene | Building a Character | Costuming and Class info | Elizabethan Education | Language | Occupations | Elizabeth I | Religion | Classes | Edward VI - wikipedia entry minus links

You get bonus points if you can figure out what's wrong with this picture
(not counting the Simpson's)

November 6, 2004

From the Compendium of Common Knowledge...

Titles and Forms of Address

Sir goes only with a given name. To address a knight using only his surname, say "master"

Lord implies peerage (baron or better). Not every knight is a lord; not every lord is a knight. It is best not to say "My Lord" to anyone not so entitled.

A Territorial Title is one which is attached to a particular piece of land, such as a county. Peers sign their names and refer to themselves and each other by thier territorial titles, such as "Henry Southampton", "Francis Bedford" or Thomas Rutland."

Every woman married to a knight or better can be called my lady.

The children of a knight, baron or viscount have no titles at all. All the sons of a marquis or a duke are styled lord.

Only the eldest son of an earl is called lord, but all of his daughters are called lady. They retain this courtesy even if they marry commoners.

Your Grace belongs properly only to royal blood: the queen, dukes and visiting princes. It does not apply to Earls or Countesses in the 16th century.

If you are not noble, you may wish to address those above you as Your Worship, Your Honour, or Your Lordship/Ladyship.

Children are taught to address their parents as Sir and Madam, or my lord and my lady. A noble child refers to my lady mother and the lord my father.

Sir John Packington can be called:

  • Sir John
  • Master Packington
  • but not Sir Packington

Captain Sir Walter Raleigh can be called:

  • Sir Walter
  • Master Raleigh
  • Captain raleigh
  • but never Sir Raleigh

Sir Thomas Jermyn's wife Catherine can be called:

  • Catherine Lady Jermyn
  • Lady Jermyn
  • but not Lady Catherine.

Titles n such

The ordinary ranking of the English Court, disregarding various offices, parents, patents, or orders of knighthood is as follows:

Men Women
Marquis (MAR-kwis) Marchioness (MAR-shon-ess)
Earl Countess
Viscount (vEYE-count) Viscountess (vEYE-count-ess)
Baron Baroness
Knight Knight's lady

Royalty refers only to the monarch and his/her immediate family.

Nobility refers to peers and their families.

Royalty refers only to the monarch and his/her immediate family

Nobility refers to peers and their families

The ppers are barons and above, and sit by right in the House of Lords.

Gentry refers to anyone gentle but untitled, usually descended from nobility.

Knights are not noble. They are knightly. Knights are knightly. Knights and peers' sons may sit, by election or appointment, in the House of Commons.

An ordinary, undifferentiated knight is a Knight Bachelor.

Knight Banneret is an honour conferred on a man who distinguished himself on the battlefield in front of his monarch. It is a battlefield promotion which permits him to cut the tails off his pennon (making it a banner) and permits/requires him to lead a company of his own men under it. In Elizabeth's reign, there are only three, including Sir Ralph Sadler.

Knights of the Garter outrank all the other knights.

Note: The rank of Baronet (an hereditary knighthood) does not exist until James I invents it as a money making scheme.

In 1558, there were no more than about 600 knights in the country.

Minors and women holding rank in their own right may not sit in the House of Lords. Minors must wait till they are old enough. A woman may send her eldest son "in her right," when he comes of age.

Certain ecclesiastical titles are also ranked with the peers.

Bishops have a rank equal to that of an Earl. Archbishops rank with the Dukes, and are addressed as Your Grace.

The Queen has little use for Churchmen, however, and seldom invites them 'round to dine.

Forms of Address for Non-Nobles

  • The gentry are un-titled landholders, who come from noble families. In particular, they are descendents of younger sons of the nobility.
  • The term Gentles should be reserved for those who are of gentle birth: nobles, knights, and their descendants (with or without titles). To address a crowd, say "good folk" or "good people" or some such thing; not "good gentles".
  • Gentle has to do with land owning, not good manners, though manners may be considered a mark of gentility. Call others: common, rustic, lesser folk, good folk or sturdy yeomen, or villagers, or something else pleasant but non-Gentle.
  • Money also has little to do with gentle birth. You may be gentle and "land poor", meaning you have land but no cash. This sometimes applies to nobles, though it is not fair to say that any merchant has more money than any noble.
  • The term middle class is unknown in period. People are much more specific about their place in society. Say instead: merchants, yeoman, tradesmen, craftsmen, and so on.
  • The yeomanry are essentially prosperous, non-gentle (and non-peasant) tenants, worth no less than £6 per annum, according to Harrison. When yeomen get a little money, they tend to buy land, which makes them landowners.
  • If the family are provident and continue to acquire and hold the land for at least three generations, they will come to be counted among the gentry.
  • Craftsmen or tradesmen may be considered equivalent to the yeoman class. Town people of any rank consider themselves superior to country people of the same rank.
  • Peasants are tenants who work on someone else's land for wages. They pay rent in money but mostly in kind and in services. They are often in debt. Their employers are often yeoman farmers. Town people who are ordinary laborers are more or less of the equivalent class.
  • Your liveried retainers are not peasants (even if their parents are).
  • Knights are not noble but they are gentry. It is not hereditary.
  • A knighthood is essentially a battlefield honour, sometimes given for other kinds of service. (Walsingham's is for diplomacy, you might say.)
  • Knighthood does not necessarily come with land or an income, although it may require you to spend more to maintain your standing, or reputation.

Language: Idiomatic Idiosyncrasies

This is not grammar you are taught in school, but simply the ordinary way people talk. Your excuse for incorrect usage cannot be that you were poorly educated.

  • Say: "How art thou", not "how are thee"
  • What wouldst thou have of me?
  • I like thy face.
  • I will go with thee.
  • Thou art a rogue.
  • Say: I did see him go with thee. not I didst see him...
  • The "st" ending is only for "thou" However, the familiar and formal forms (thou and you) get mixed in a sentence even in Shakespeare. But only downward or to an equal, never up.That is, you might address your servant using both thou and you together, but he wouldn't do that to you. Anger and strong feeling, of course, cancel other conventions.
  • Also: When we refer to 'corn', we are referring, mainly, to barley. If not barley, then it is whatever the major grain crop in the region is (rye is common). It is never corn-on-the-cob or maize.
  • Englishmen speak of living in a particular street instead of on it.
  • Shakespeare lived for a time in a house in Silver Street, or one knows a tailor with a shop in the High Street.
  • Where American towns have a Main Street, the main drag in an English town of any size is usually called the High Street.
  • There are also regional variations, such as Fore Street or Silver Street.
  • A village is more likely to be built around a village green and may not have a street at all. If traffic actually runs through it, you might say that children were playing in the lane or the road.

Antique language isn't necessarily "big words" or curious sentence structure. Try these. (Note that "an" means "if".)

Instead Of... Say...

  • Okay--------- Very well, 'Tis done, As you will, Marry shall I
  • Wow!--------- Fie me! Marry! 'Zounds (God's wounds, pron: ZOONDS) I'faith! Hey-ho! God's Death! What ho!
  • Excuse me ---------- Forgive me, Pray pardon, I crave your forgiveness, By your leave
  • Please---------- Prithee (I pray thee), If you please, An thou likest, An it please you, By your leave, An thou wilt, An you will
  • Thank you -----------Gramercy, I thank thee, My thanks, God reward thee
  • Gesundheit! ----------God Save You!
  • Air head --------------Lightminded, Airling
  • Bottom line ------------In the end, At bottom, In the main, Finally, In the final analysis
  • Bathroom --------------Privy, Jakes, Ajax
  • Certainly! -----------Certes! (SIR-tees) (However, NOT "I am certes that I paid that account.")

Strange but True, Dept.:
Hello is not actually a period greeting but an exclamation of surprise.
You can say instead:

  • Good day
  • Good morrow
  • God ye good den (or just, Good den)
  • God save you, sweet mistress
  • How now, Sir Toby Belch




















articles in this section:

November 6, 2004

Titles and forms of address



Photos of TCRF 2004 by F&H Photography

The Guild of
St. Mortimer



Offsite Links that I have found to be indispensable

Compendium of Common Knowledge




Contents of this site are provided for your entertainment purposes only, and I am not responsible nor liable for your actions should you choose to do, or cause someone else to do, something illegal, harmful or stupid.