Goodlie Manners in Tudor England

Manners in the Elizabethan sense were not quite what we understand as manners. Looking through the prism of the Victorian middle class, and their ready-made manners etiquette books, and the Emily Post style books that followed, we tend to think of manners as a simple checklist of how to perform certain tasks (eating, sending thank you notes etc.).

Prior to the Victorian era, they had a somewhat different meaning.

First, they viewed manners in a holistic sense - a person's manners were the sum total of how he or she acted and presented him or her self in public. They were a combination of actions, dress, deportment and conversation - even how well someone danced could be lumped into the general notion of a person's manners.

Secondly, there were two distinct elements to manners: the manners of deference and the manners of deportment or refinement.

The manners of deference (also called "duty") were the actions which reinforced the class system. They were the ways inferiors addressed superiors and behaved in their presence. The manners of duty were the possession of the entire society, and not limited to a single class, and they were inculcated from the earliest age to the point where they were automatic and instinctive.