The Courtier, or II Cortegiano, was composed in the style of a discussion or dialogue, which was popular among humanists. It claims to be an account of a series of after-dinner talks conducted in the drawing room of Urbino's ducal palace in March 1507, during which the subject of what constituted an ideal courtier was explored. The work was written by a member of the Montefeltro family, Paolo Giovio, and it was first published in Latin in Venice in 1550.
Courtiers were important people at the courts of Europe, especially those of Spain and Italy. They tended to come from wealthy families and were usually trained for government service. Their main role was to act as go-betweens between their masters and the rest of the population - including other members of the nobility, officials, soldiers, and artists - thereby making sure that everyone's needs were met.
In Spain, where royalty played an important role in society, there were many positions that needed to be filled by someone who could represent the king effectively. A large number of these posts were reserved exclusively for members of the nobility, so they had to be offered to someone. However, since most of them also required some knowledge of military affairs or administration, this type of post would usually be given to someone who could offer both political influence and government service. This was why people often referred to noblemen who held court positions as being "courtiers".
Count Baldassare Castiglione (1478–1529) wrote Il Libro del Cortegiano, or The Book of the Courtier, which was originally published in colloquial Italian in 1528. The book offers a fascinating look into Renaissance court life and served as the ideal "how-to" manual for aspiring courtiers. It included guidelines on how to behave at court, what clothes were appropriate, examples of good manners, descriptions of various types of people found at courts across Europe, and more.
Book of the Courtier had a profound effect on thinking about behavior in society at large. Before it was written, people simply acted like they felt like it could be wrong. After the book was published, others who wanted to act like experts began to copy some of its ideas. For example, a Frenchman named Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) wrote an essay titled "On the Custom of Dress" in which he criticized the custom of wearing swords at court. He said they were unnecessary for defense since guns had been invented yet still recommended wearing them as a mark of status. This idea came from a chapter in the Book of the Courtier that discussed the need for rank to be shown by special clothing.
The book also influenced philosophers such as René Descartes (1596–1650) and John Locke (1632–1704). They both used parts of it when they developed their ideas about morality and politics.
Baldassare Castiglione's Il Cortegiano [il korte'dZa:no] is a lengthy philosophical conversation on the question of what forms an ideal courtier or (in the third chapter) court lady worthy of befriending and advising a prince or political leader. The book was written in Italian and published in 1528. It has been translated into many languages, including English, French, German, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.
Castiglione argues that true nobility can be found only in spirit, not blood. True nobility is about how you act, not who your parents are. It is all about grace, virtue, and honor. A noble mind can exist even if its body is dead, and a noble soul is never alone. Through such examples and more, the book seeks to educate readers on how to make themselves worthy of friendship from those who are greater than them.
Book reviews have often compared the Book of the Courtier to Plato's Republic because both books discuss what it means to be a good ruler or governor by example rather than through force. However, while the Republic focuses primarily on philosophy, Castiglione's book discusses manners, behavior, and etiquette at length for anyone wishing to gain the favor of others.
The book is divided into three parts, called "categories".
Courtier (n.) "one who attends the court of a sovereign," from Anglo-French *corteour, from Old French cortoiier "to be at court, dwell at court," from cort "king's court; royal home" see court (n.). Meaning "a civil servant attached to a monarchical government department" first recorded 1580s. Modern sense of "someone who performs menial tasks for or serves an important person" is derived from courtier.
The -er suffix is added to many words to indicate a person or thing that does something mechanical or simple but effective. The words seem to fall into two main groups: those referring to people (courteous, diligent, honest) and those describing objects (curved, sharp, clear).
Many words ending in -er are also spelled with a y instead (huge, minor, major). This spelling difference occurs with some regularity and usually indicates that one word is used in reference to people and another word is used when referring to things. In this case, courtier refers to someone who works at the court of a king or queen, while corteour refers to someone who lives at the court of a king or queen.
Some words have different forms depending on their part of speech. Courtier can be a noun, verb, or adjective.
A courtier (/'ko: [email protected]/) is someone who often attends a monarch's or other royal personage's court. The first historical instances of courtiers were members of monarchs' retinues. Today, courtiers are found in many countries where there is a royal family. Although they play an important role in many nations, they do not have the power to influence government policy.
In ancient Greece, the term meant someone who attended others with a purpose; a seeker after honor or position. In Rome, the word came to mean one who lives by the court or palace, usually because he or she is seeking employment there.
In England, France, and other European countries, the term still means someone who lives by the court or palace. However, in America it has come to mean someone who works for the government department that employs him or her.
In the early days of monarchy, everyone who lived near the king would know if he had been summoned to court. So people without jobs who wanted honorific positions would go to court and be seen by the king or queen, hoping to impress them with their appearance and manners enough to win a job. This way, they could earn a living while waiting to be called upon by the king or queen to do work for them.