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Second thematic call for papers: “Court Etiquette: normative texts and customs” (2014-2016 research programme)

For its three-year research programme (2014-2016), the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles has launched a research axis on “Court Etiquette: normative texts and customs” and wishes to publish articles related to this subject on the Bulletin du Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.


Although the word etiquette has today taken on an accepted meaning that might appear clear and well defined, it quickly becomes clear that this notion is far from self-evident. In addition to the fact that people often confuse “ceremonial”, “protocol” and “etiquette”, the latter term was only used rarely at the time, and often with very different meanings. Whether in Richelet’s dictionary or Furetière’s, the lexicographers took it in what was essentially a legal sense. In fact, in France, the word related to elements of judicial procedure. However, the dictionary of the Académie Française (starting with its 1718 edition and in the last definition it gives of the word) recalls the familiar use of this word in Spain in the sense of “what must be done daily in the King’s Household, and in the principal ceremonies”. The absence of the current definition of the word “etiquette” in contemporary dictionaries in no way means that the word was not used in this sense in the language. We have evidence of this in a letter by Madame Palatine dated 3 February 1679 in which the Duchess of Orléans explained that she had never been able to get used to this “insipid etiquette”.

Bernard Hours in his study on the court of Louis XV describes the historical authenticity and origins of French etiquette (Louis XV et Sa Cour, Paris, PUF, coll. “Le Nœud Gordien”, 2002, p. 77-98). It goes back to the Burgundian court of Philippe le Bon in the 15th century when “it referred to a written formula setting out the timetable of the prince and his court” (ibid., p. 78.). From then on, there was an effort to retain the customs in order to perpetuate them. As situations developed, so did etiquette and each new code was recorded to establish a precedent.

This line of research aims to formalise the unwritten customs of the French court. In fact, in contrast to the many systematic studies carried out particularly on the Hapsburg court in Madrid and those on the court in Vienna, French etiquette has always been universally viewed according to the customs and rituals of the court. The main objective here is to understand the evolution of etiquette as it developed, improved and declined.

Research themes (not exhaustive)

Article proposals can deal with one or several of the following themes and lines of enquiry:

  • The definition of etiquette;

  • The origins and emergence of etiquette;

  • The nature of etiquette in relation to court ritual;

  • The circumstances in which etiquette was applied (large household, ceremonial occasions, rituals) and etiquette according to topography, and vice versa;

  • Etiquette as a political tool, or a means to control or civilise;

  • Who determines or arbitrates on matters of etiquette?;

  • Are courtisans the protagonists, driving force or victims of etiquette?;

  • A Europe-wide expansion of etiquette.

Sources and bibliography

Authors can refer to a list of manuscript and printed sources and a bibliography on the subject (both non-exhaustive).


Authors can use the « Etiquette » database compiled by the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.

Publication of the Centre’s online ressources portal, which brings together sources taken from normative texts and/or memoirs from the French court in the modern era.

Submission guidelines and evaluation procedures

First, article proposals (abstracts of about 5 000 characters) should be adressed to Mathieu da Vinha ( in French or in English. These proposals will be reviewed by the scientific committee.

If the proposals are accepted by the scientific committee, the full articles will be examined both by the latter and by two members of the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles’s peer review committee (or by external scholars appointed by the scientific or peer review committee if necessary).

Article proposals must be submitted before 30 June 2017. Authors must send:

• Author(s)’s name and surname, institutional affiliation, email address;

• Title of the article;

An article proposal of 5 000 characters specifying the subject and the issue of the article, the theoretical framework, methodology, sources and main bibliographical references used ;

• An abbreviated curriculum vitae.

The final articles will be 40 000 characters maximum (bibliography and footnotes included) and must be submitted before 31 October 2017.

Authors should comply with the editorial guidelines of the Bulletin du Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.


Scientific committee of the Court Etiquette research programme

Mathieu da Vinha (Centre de recherche du château de Versailles) ; Raphaël Masson (château de Versailles) ; Alice Camus (Centre de recherche du château de Versailles) ; Delphine Carrangeot (université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, centre de recherche ESR-DYPAC) ; Nicole Lallement (Centre de recherche du château de Versailles) ; Bénédicte Lecarpentier-Bertrand (université Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne) ; Pauline Lemaigre-Gaffier (université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, centre de recherche ESR-DYPAC) ; Benjamin Ringot (Centre de recherche du château de Versailles).

Peer review committee

Marc Bayard (Mobilier national) ; Monique Chatenet (université Paris-Sorbonne/École du Louvre) ; Anne Conchon (université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) ; Claire Constans (conservateur général honoraire du patrimoine) ; Alexandre Gady (Centre André Chastel/université Paris-Sorbonne) ; Pauline Lemaigre-Gaffier (université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, centre de recherche ESR-DYPAC) ; Nicolas Le Roux (université Lumière – Lyon 2) ; Nicole Reinhardt (université de Durham, Grande-Bretagne) ; Thierry Sarmant (musée Carnavalet).

See the full presentation of the peer review committee on the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles’s website.

Document annexe

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