Life in Elizabethan England Next

The Noble Style

The prime proof of rank and nobility is liberality. People want to be known for their hospitality. The ideal is a substantial house, plenty of servants, a lavish table where anyone is welcome.

to the Poor As further evidence of liberality, the broken meats (table leavings) are customarily given to the poor at the kitchen door. (Incidentally, this also counts as "good works".)

As a great compliment, it was said of the 3rd Earl of Derby: "His house in plenty was ever maintained."

This has to be tempered by the need to live within one's income and avoid oppressing the tenantry to raise the cash. One Earl and Countess of Rutland got so carried away they had to be put on a budget of £200 a year!

Income is usually discussed as rentals, and does not take into account profits from offices, industry, land farmed by the lord himself, profits of court, bribes, douceurs, and sale of offices.

Very few noblemen have an accurate notion of their full income, gross or net. That's what you have servants for.

::  Patronage: Retinue, Companions, & Livery
::  Precedence, Preferment, & Attainder
::  Ranks & Files
::  The Senior Peers
::  Honor & Dueling

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26 March 2000 pkm