Friday, July 19, 2024

xvie: A Glimpse into Bourbon Etiquette


The Bourbon dynasty, one of the most influential royal families in European history, ruled France for over two centuries. During their reign, they established a strict court etiquette that was followed by all members of the court. This etiquette, known as “xvie”, was not only a set of rules but also a way of life for the French nobility. In this article, we will explore the origins of xvie, its importance in the Bourbon court, and its lasting impact on French society.

The Origins of xvie


The term “xvie” comes from the French word “seizième”, meaning “sixteenth”. It refers to the 16th century, when the Bourbon dynasty rose to power in France. The Bourbon family originated from the House of Bourbon, a powerful French noble family that had close ties to the royal family. In 1589, Henry IV of France, a member of the Bourbon family, became the first Bourbon king of France. His reign marked the beginning of the Bourbon dynasty and the establishment of xvie.

The Importance of Court Etiquette


During the 16th century, the French court was the center of political and social life. It was where the king and his courtiers lived, worked, and entertained. As such, it was essential for the court to maintain a certain level of decorum and etiquette. This was especially important for the Bourbon dynasty, who wanted to establish themselves as a powerful and prestigious ruling family.

Court etiquette, or xvie, was a set of rules and customs that governed the behavior of the courtiers. It was a way to maintain order and hierarchy within the court and to show respect to the king and other members of the royal family. Xvie was not only about manners and politeness, but it also had a deeper meaning. It was a way to display one’s status and to gain favor with the king.

The Rules of xvie

Xvie was a complex system of rules and customs that governed every aspect of court life. It covered everything from how to address the king to how to sit at a banquet. Some of the most important rules of xvie included:

  • Bowing and curtsying: When greeting the king or other members of the royal family, courtiers were expected to bow or curtsy. The depth of the bow or curtsy depended on the rank of the person being greeted.
  • Dress code: Courtiers were expected to dress in a certain way, depending on their rank. The king and other members of the royal family were required to wear elaborate and expensive clothing, while lower-ranking courtiers were expected to dress more modestly.
  • Language: Courtiers were expected to speak in a refined and polite manner. They were not allowed to use vulgar language or to speak out of turn.
  • Seating arrangements: At banquets and other formal events, seating arrangements were strictly enforced. The king and other members of the royal family sat at the head of the table, while courtiers were seated according to their rank.
  • Gift-giving: Courtiers were expected to give gifts to the king and other members of the royal family on special occasions. These gifts were a way to show loyalty and gain favor with the king.

The Impact of xvie on French Society

Xvie had a significant impact on French society, not just within the court but also in the wider population. As the court was the center of political and social life, the rules of xvie were emulated by the rest of society. The French nobility, in particular, adopted xvie as a way to distinguish themselves from the common people.

Xvie also had a lasting impact on French culture. It influenced the development of French literature, art, and fashion. The court was a hub of creativity and innovation, and the rules of xvie played a role in shaping the cultural landscape of France.

The Decline of xvie

As with any tradition, xvie eventually began to lose its significance over time. The Bourbon dynasty came to an end in 1792 during the French Revolution, and with it, the strict court etiquette of xvie. The revolutionaries rejected the old ways of the monarchy and sought to create a more egalitarian society.

However, some aspects of xvie still remain in French society today. The French language, for example, is known for its formality and politeness, which can be traced back to the rules of xvie. The French also have a strong sense of hierarchy and respect for authority, which can be attributed to the influence of xvie.


Xvie was more than just a set of rules; it was a way of life for the French nobility during the Bourbon dynasty. It played a significant role in shaping French society and culture and continues to have an impact today. While the strict court etiquette of xvie may no longer be enforced, its legacy lives on in the French language and society.

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