Category Archives: Courtesy

Courtesy: Toasts to the Crown (Master D. MacRuiseart)

Soundings of the Conch: On Your Feet!

by, Master Donal Mac Ruiseart, Conch Herald (Posted to the Merry Rose, a public SCA email format on Feb 1, 2011 at 7:17 am, forwarding was expected)

Most of us know that it is traditional to have a round of toasts (or to use a
more period term, healths) at some time during any feast. The usual pattern is
Atlantia’s Monarchs, visiting Royals, Atlantia’s Crown Prince and Princess, if
there be such, the local Baronage, and any visiting Baronials.

Most of us also should know that all ought to rise for these healths. There is
a belief in some quarters that ladies need not rise, but in fact they should.
Exempting ladies from rising is a modern, probably American, innovation.

But apparently this is not as universally known as I thought. At a recent
event, our Baron rose to drink the health of Their Majesties, and fully half the
men in the hall remained seated. So dismayed was I by this apparent lack of
respect for our Monarchs that I called aloud, “My lords! On your feet, in the
King’s name!” At this admonition, the men – and many of the ladies – did rise.

Have so many of us forgotten our manners? Or, I wondered on reflection, are
such things not common knowledge among the populace, so that we need to teach
them? From the reaction of those at the event, I suspect – indeed hope – that
it was a simple lack of knowledge, not a deliberate lack of respect, that kept
those gentles in their seats.

So let me begin with the case in question. When healths are drunk at a feast or
at any event, all should rise, unless unable to do so. That last provision
includes infirmity, injury, or a hall so cramped as to make rising en masse

For the following examples, let me say that there is always an exception given
for infirmity or injury, and to those working at a registration table or the
Minister of the Lists table, or in the kitchen. Musicians are also exempted
when actually playing. There are of course other exceptions dictated by common

It is respectful and courteous to rise when addressed by a person of higher rank
than yourself; indeed, it is truly courteous to rise when addressed by an equal,
and more courteous still to rise for one of lower rank. But it is truly
discourteous to remain seated (unless unable to rise) when approached or
addressed by a person of particularly high rank, especially a Royal.[1]

You ought also to rise when a Royal enters a room, except a really large public
room, in which case you need rise only if the Royal is announced.

You should rise when a Royal passes near you while you are seated.

A gentle lord, when approached or addressed by a lady while seated, will rise to
greet or respond to her.

A gentle lord will rise when a lady enters a small room.

A gentle lord will rise when a lady comes to a table at which he is seated, and
if the seat she will take is near to his, will assist her to sit by holding her

A gentle lord will rise when a lady or a person of high rank, seated at the same
table, rises.

I pray you remember that this Society of which we are members fosters the
practice of courtesy and chivalry. The acts I list above are truly basic
courtesies. Indeed some of us can recall when they were practised in the modern
world. But the lack of such observance by so many of our mundane contemporaries
should not discourage us from practising and encouraging them.

[1] (How many of you were as aghast as I when Chancellor Palpatine remained
seated when speaking with the standing Queen Amidala of Naboo?)

The Merry Rose Tavern at Cheapside