A LADY-IN-WAITING or COURT LADY is a female personal assistant at a court, royal or feudal , attending on a royal woman or a high-ranking noblewoman . Historically, in Europe, a lady-in-waiting was often a noblewoman from a family in "good society", but who was of lower rank than the woman on whom she attended. Although she may or may not have received compensation for the service she rendered, a lady-in-waiting was considered more of a companion to her mistress than a servant .
In other parts of the world outside Europe, the lady-in-waiting, often referred to as palace woman, was often in practice a servant or a slave rather than a high ranking woman, but still had about the same tasks, functioning as companion and secretary to her mistress. In courts where polygamy was practiced, a court lady was formally available to the monarch for sexual services, and she could become his wife or concubine.
* 1 History * 2 Duties
* 3 By court
* 3.1 Africa
* 3.2 Austria
* 3.3 Belgium
* 3.4 Britain
* 3.5 Cambodia
* 3.6 China
* 3.7 Denmark
* 3.8 England
* 3.9 Greece
* 3.10 France
* 3.11 Germany
* 4 Notable examples
* 4.1 Denmark * 4.2 England and Great Britain * 4.3 France * 4.4 Germany * 4.5 Japan * 4.6 Korea * 4.7 Russia * 4.8 Sweden * 4.9 Thailand
* 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 References * 8 External links
The development of the office of lady-in-waiting in Europe is
connected to that of the development of a royal court. During the
In the late 12th-century, the queens of France are confirmed to have had their own household, and noblewomen are mentioned as ladies-in-waiting. During the Middle Ages however, the household of a European queen consort was normally small and the number of actually employed ladies-in-waiting, rather than wives of noblemen accompanying their husbands to court, was very small: in 1286, the queen of France had only five ladies-in-waiting in her employ, and it was not until 1316 that her household was separated from that of the royal children.
The role of ladies-in-waiting in Europe changed dramatically during
the age of the
During the late 19th-century and the early 20th-century, however, most European courts started to reduce their court staff, often due to new economic and political circumstances which made court representation more questionable.
The duties of ladies-in-waiting varied from court to court, but functions historically discharged by ladies-in-waiting included proficiency in the etiquette , languages, and dances prevalent at court; secretarial tasks; reading correspondence to her mistress and writing on her behalf; embroidery , painting, horse riding, music making and participation in other queenly pastimes; wardrobe care; supervision of servants; keeping her mistress abreast of activities and personages at court, and discreetly relaying messages upon command.
A number of tribes and cultural areas in the African continent, such as the Lobedu people of Southern Africa, had a similar custom on ladies-in-waiting in historic times.
Within certain traditional states of the Bini and Yoruba peoples in
Although these women effectively functioned as ladies-in-waiting, were often members of powerful families of the local nobility in their own right, and were not usually used for sexual purposes, they were none-the-less referred to as their principals' wives.
In the late Middle Ages, when the court of the emperor no longer moved around constantly, the household of the empress, as well as the equivalent household of the German princely consorts, started to develop a less fluid and more strict organisation with set court offices.Kägler , p.
The court model of the Duchy of Burgundy, as well as the Spanish court model, came to influence the organisation of the Austrian imperial court during the 16th-century, when the Burgundian Netherlands, Spain and Austria was united through the Habsburg dynasty.
In the early and mid 16th-century, the female courtiers kept by female Habsburgs in the Netherlands and Austria was composed of one hofmesterees ('Court mistress') or dame d'honneur who served as the principal lady in waiting; one hofdame or Mere de filles, who was second in rank and deputy of the hofmesterees as well as being in charge of the eredames (maid of honour), also known as demoiselle d'honneur, fille d'honneur or Junckfrauen depending on language, and finally the chamber maids, kamenisters. During the tenure of Maria of Austria, Holy Roman Empress in the mid 16th-century, however, the court of the empress was organised in accordance with the Spanish court model, and after she left Austria, there was no further household of an empress until the 1610s. This resulted in a mix of Burgundian and Spanish customs when the Austrian court model was created.
In 1619, a set organisation was finally established for the Austrian
Imperial court which came to be the characteristic organisation of the
Austrian-Habsburg court roughly kept from this point onward. The
first rank of the female courtiers was the Obersthofmeisterin
Mistress of the Robes
The Austrian court model was the role model for the princely courts in Germany. The German court model in turn became the role model of the early modern Scandinavian courts of Denmark and Sweden.
The Kingdom of Belgium was founded in 1830, after which a royal court was founded, and ladies-in-waiting were appointed for Louise of Orléans when she became the first queen of Belgium in 1832. The female office holders of the queens household was created from the French model and composed of one dame d\'honneur , followed by several ladies-in-waiting named dame du palais, in turn over ranking the premiere femme du chambre and the femme du chambre.
The ladies-in waiting have historically been chosen by the Queen herself from among the Catholic noble houses of Belgium . The chief functions at court were undertaken by members of the higher nobility, involving much contact with the royal ladies. Belgian princesses were assigned a lady upon their 18th birthday. Princess Clementine was given a Dame by her father, a symbolic act of adulthood.
When the Queen entertains, the ladies welcome guests and assist the hostess in sustaining conversation.
In the current Royal Household of the
As of 2016, the Senior Lady-in-Waiting to
Queen Elizabeth II
In Cambodia, the term "ladies-in-waiting" refers to high ranking female servants who served food and drink, fanned and massaged, and sometimes provided sexual services to the King. Conventionally, these women could work their way up from maids to ladies-in-waiting, concubines , or even queen consort .
The six favorite court ladies of King Sisowath of Cambodia were probably initially drawn from the ranks of classical royal dancers of the lower class. He was noted for having the most classical dancers as concubines. The imperial celestial dancer, Apsara , was one of these. This practice of drawing from the ranks of royal dancers began in the Golden Age of the Khmer Kingdom.
Srey Snom (Khmer : ស្រីស្នំ) is the Cambodian term for the Khmer "lady-in-waiting".
Chinese Tang dynasty court ladies on
A Palace Concert
The ladies-in-waiting in China, referred to as palace women, palace
ladies or court ladies, were all formally if not always in practice a
part of the emperors harem, regardless of their task, and could be
promoted by him to the rank of official concubine, consort or even
empress. Already the emperors of the
At least during the
This system was roughly the same during the
The early modern Danish court was organized according to the German court model, in turn inspired by the Imperial Austrian court model, from the 16th century onward.
The highest rank female courtier to a female royal was the hofmesterinde (Court Mistress) or, from 1694/98 onward, Overhofmesterinde (Chief Court Mistres), equivalent to the Mistress of the Robes, normally an elder widow, who supervised the rest of the ladies-in-waiting. The rest of the female courtiers were composed of one Kammerfrøken (Senior Maid of Honour), followed by a group of hofdame ('court lady') with the title of Hoffrøken (maid of honour ). They were followed by the non noble female court employees not ranking as ladies-in-waiting, such as the chamber maids.
This hierarchy was roughly in place from the 16th century until the
death of king
Christian IX of Denmark
In the middle ages, Margaret of France, Queen of England is noted to have had seven ladies-in-waiting: the three married ones were called Domina and the four unmarried maid of honour , but no principal lady-in-waiting is mentioned, and until the 15th-century, the majority of the office holders of the queen's household were still male.
As late as in the mid 15th-century, queen
Elizabeth Woodville had
still only five ladies-in-waiting, but in the late 15th-century and
early 16th-century, ladies-in-waiting was given a more dominant place
at the English court, in parallel with the development in France and
the continental courts. The court life of the Duchy of
Queen Elizabeth of York had numerous ladies-in-waiting, which was reported by the Spanish ambassador Rodrigo de Puebla as something unusual and astonishing: "the Queen has thirty-two ladies, very magnificent and in splendid style". Elizabeth of York reportedly had 36 ladies-in-waiting, eighteen of them noblewomen; in 1502, a more complete account summarized them as sixteen "gentlewomen", seven maids of honor and three "chamberers—women", who attended to her in the bedchamber. Aside from the women formally employed as ladies-in-waiting, the queen's female retinue in reality also consisted of the daughters and the ladies-in-waiting of her ladies-in-waiting, who also resided in the queen's household.
The duties of ladies-in-waiting at the Tudor court were to act as
companions in public and in private; to accompany her wherever she
went; to entertain her with music, dance or singing; and to dress her,
bathe her and help her use the lavatory, as a royal person, by the
standards of the day, was not suppose to do anything by themselves,
but was always to be waited upon in all daily tasks as a sign of their
status. Ladies-in-waiting were appointed by recommendation of their
social status as members of the nobility, court officials, knights and
military officers; and because they were expected to be supporters of
the dynasty or the royal woman because of their relatives. When the
queen was not a foreigner, her relatives were often appointed as they
were presumed to be trustworthy and loyal; Lady Margaret Lee was a
Lady of the Privy Chamber to Queen
The organization of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting was set in the
period of the Tudor court. The ladies-in-waiting were headed by the
Mistress of the Robes
Kingdom of Greece was established in 1832 and its first queen
Amalia of Oldenburg
Marie Louise of Savoy-Carignan, Princesse de Lamballe was lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
The queen of France is confirmed to have had a separate household in the late 12th-century, and an ordinance from 1286 notes that the queen of France, queen Joan I of Navarre , had a group of five ladies (Dames) and maids-in-waiting (Damoiselles): in the 1480s, French ladies-in-waiting were divided into Femmes mariées (married ladies-in-waiting) and Filles d’honneur (maid of honour).
However, the queen's household and the number of female courtiers
during the Middle Ages was very small in France, as in most European
courts: it was not until the end of the 15th-century and early
16th-century that emulation of the new courts of the Italian
The first ranked female courtier in the French royal court was the Surintendante de la Maison de la Reine (Mistress of the Robes) to the Queen. The Surintendante and the Governess of the Children of France were the only female office holders in France to give an oath of loyalty to the King himself. This office was created in 1619, and vacant between the death of Marie Anne de Bourbon (1697–1741) and the appointment of Marie Louise of Savoy-Carignan, Princesse de Lamballe in 1775.
The second highest rank was that of the Première dame d\'honneur , who could act as the stand-in of the Surintendante and had about the same tasks, hiring and supervising the female courtiers and the queens daily routine and expenditure. This post was created in 1523 and had originally been highest female court office.
The 3rd rank belonged to the dame d\'atour , who formally supervised the queens wardrobe and jewelry and the dressing of the queen. This post was created in 1534.
The 4th rank was that of the dames, from 1523 named dame d'honneur composed of ladies-in-waiting whose task was simply to serve as companions and attending and assisting with court functions.
The 5th rank was the filles d'honneur or demoiselles d'honneur (maid of honour), unmarried daughters of the nobility, who had the same tasks as the dames but was mainly placed at court to learn etiquette and look for a spouse. They were supervised by the governante and the sou governante. The position of filles d'honneur and dames was abolished in 1674, and replaced by the dame du palais, twelve married noblewomen with the same tasks. The filles were from 1531 supervised by the Gouvernante de filles, a lady-in-waiting who had the task to chaperone them: this post was divided in to several from 1547 onward.
The 6th rank were the première femme de Chambre , who in turn over ranked the remaining femme de chambres and lavandières. The premiere femme de chambre had the keys to the queens rooms and could recommend and deny audiences to her, which in practice made her position very powerful at court.
During the First Empire , the principal lady in waiting of the empress was the dame d'honneur, followed by between 20 and 36 dame du palais.
During the Second Empire , the female courtiers of the empress was composed by the first rank Grand-Maitresse and the second rank dame d'honneur, followed by six (later twelve) dame du palais.
The early modern Princely courts in Germany were modeled after the imperial Austrian court model. This court model divided the ladies-in-waiting in an chief lady-in-waiting named oberhofmeisterin (a widowed or married elder woman) who supervised the hoffräulein (maids of honour), of which one or two could be promoted to the middle rank of kammerfräulein (maid of honour of the chamber).
The princely German courts in turn became the role model of the Scandinavian courts of Denmark and Sweden in the 16th-century.
After the end of the German Roman Empire in 1806 and the establishment of several minor kingdoms in Germany, the post of staatsdame (married ladies-in-waiting) were introduced in many German princely and royal courts. At the Imperial German court, the ladies-in-waiting were composed of one oberhofmeisterin in charge of several hofstaatsdame or palatsdame.
In Japan, the imperial court offices was normally reserved for members of the court aristocracy and the ladies-in-waiting or palace attendants were commonly educated members of the nobility.
During the Sengoku period (1467–1603), the highest rank of a lady-in-waiting was "female assistant to the major counselor", who ran the affairs of the daily life of the imperial household. The second rank was hoto no naishi ("female palace attendant"), who acted as intermediary between the emperor and those seeking audience and issued his wishes in writing. Ladies-in-waiting acted as imperial secretaries and noted the events at court, visitors and gifts in the official court journals.
In contrast to China, women palace attendants managed the palace of the imperial harem rather than eunuchs , and could hold high court offices in the emperors personal household. Female palace attendants were divided in two classes, which in turn had several ranks, signifying their task. The first class consisted of the nyokan or ladies-in-waiting who held court offices, naishi-kami (shoji) naishi-suke (tenji) and naishi-no-jo (shoji) and the second class was the female palace attendants myobu, osashi, osue, nyoju. The ladies-in-waiting worked as personal assistants, tending the emperors' wardrobe, assisting the emperors' baths, serving meals, performing and attending court rituals. Ladies-in-waitings could be appointed concubines, consorts or even empresses by the emperor or the heir to the throne. The function of a lady-in-waiting as potential concubine was abolished in 1924.
Gungnyeo (literally "palace women") is a Korean term referring to women who wait upon the King and other royalty in traditional Korean society . It is short for gungjung yeogwan, which translates as "a lady officer of the royal court".
Gungnyeo includes sanggung (palace matron) and nain (assistant court ladies), both of which hold rank as officers. The term is also used more broadly to encompass women in a lower class without a rank such as musuri (lowest maids in charge of odd chores), gaksimi, sonnim, uinyeo (female physicians) as well as nain and sanggung.
The court of the Duchy of Burgundy, which was situated in the Netherlands in the 15th-century, was famous for its elaborate ceremonial court life and became a role model for several other courts of Europe. The Burgundian court model came to be the role model for the Austrian imperial court during the 16th-century, when the Burgundian Netherlands and Austria was united through the Habsburg dynasty.
In the 16th-century, the ladies-in-waiting in the courts of the Habsburg governors of the Netherlands, Margaret of Austria and Mary of Hungary (governor of the Netherlands) , was composed of one hofmeesteres ('Court mistress') or dame d'honneur who served as the principal lady in waiting; one hofdame or Mere de filles, who was second in rank and deputy of the hofmesterees as well as being in charge of the eredames (maid of honour), also known as demoiselle d'honneur, fille d'honneur or Junckfrauen, and finally the chamber maids, kameniersters, all with different titles depending on language in the multilingual area of the Netherlands.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands was founded in 1815, signifying the organisation of a royal court. In the 19th-century, the ladies-in-waiting of the Dutch court was headed by the Grootmeesteres ('Grand Mistress', equivalent to Mistress of the Robes), of second rank was the Dames du Palais (married ladies-in-waiting), followed by the third rank Hofdames ('court ladies', equivalent to maid of honour).
Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands had a total of seven Hofdames ('court ladies'). They accompanied the Queen and the other female members of the Royal House during visits and receptions at the Royal Court. The monarch paid for their expenses, but they did not receive any salary. Not all of these ladies were members of the Dutch aristocracy, but each had a "notable" husband. Excellent social behavior and discretion was the most important recommendation for becoming a Hofdame. In 2012 the Hofdames were Ietje van Karnebeek-van Lede, Lieke Gaarlandt-van Voorst van Beest, Julie Jeekel-Thate, Miente Boellaard-Stheeman, Jonkvrouwe Reina de Blocq van Scheltinga, Elizabeth Baroness van Wassenaer-Mersmans and Bibi Baroness van Zuylen van Nijevelt-Jonkvrouwe den Beer Poortugael.
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands reduced the number of hofdames to 3, her hofdames are: Lieke Gaarlandt-van Voorst van Beest, Pien van Karnebeek-Thijssen and Annemijn Crince le Roy- van Munster van Heuven.
The Grootmeesteres (Grandmistress) was the highest-ranking lady at the Royal Court. Since 1984 the position has been held by Martine van Loon-Labouchere, descendant of the famous banker family, a former diplomat and the widow of Jonkheer Maurits van Loon of the famous Amsterdam canal estate.
After their voluntary retirement, Hofdames were appointed to the honorary Royal Household. The honorary Royal Household still distinguishes between Dames du Palais and Hofdames, but the category Dames du Palais is slated for discontinuation.
During the union of Denmark-Norway from 1380 until 1814, the Danish royal court in Copenhagen was counted as the Norwegian royal court, and thus there was not royal court present in Norway during this period.
During the union between Norway and Sweden from 1814 to 1905, there were Norwegian courtiers appointed who served during the Swedish royal family's visits to Norway. The female courtiers were appointed according to the Swedish court model, that is to say the class of hovfröken ( Maid of honor); kammarfröken (Chief Maid of Honor) and statsfru (Lady of the Bedchamber), all supervised by the overhoffmesterinne (Mistress of the Robes): these posts were first appointed in 1817. When the union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved in 1905, a permanent Norwegian royal court was established.
In the court of Muscovite Russia , the offices of lady-in-waiting to the Tsarina were normally divided among the boyarinas (widows or wives of boyars ), often from the family and relatives of the Tsarina.
The first rank among the offices of the ladies-in-waiting were the Tsarina's Treasurer ; the second were the group of companions; the third were the royal nurses to the princes and princesses (were the nurses of the male children over ranked); among the nurses, the most significant post was that of the mamok, the head royal governess, who were normally selected from elder widows, often relatives to the Tsar or Tsarina. All offices were appointed by royal decree. The group of ladies-in-waiting were collectively above the rank of the Svetlichnaya, the tsarin'as sewing women; the postelnitsy (the tsarina's chamber women and washing women) and the officials who handled the affairs of the staff.
In 1722, this system was abolished and the Russian Imperial court was reorganized in accordance with the reforms of Peter the Great to Westernize Russia, and the old court offices of the Tsarina was replaced with court offices inspired by the German model; see Lady-in-waiting of the Imperial Court of Russia .
The royal court of Castile included a group of ladies-in-waiting for the queen named camarera in late 13th-century and early 14th-century, but it was not until the 15th-century that a set organisation of the ladies-in-waiting is confirmed.
The highest rank female courtier was the Camarera mayor de Palacio
Mistress of the Robes
The early modern Swedish court, as well as the Danish equivalent,
were re-organized in the early 16th century according to the German
court model, in turn inspired by the Imperial Austrian court model.
This model roughly organized the female noble courtiers in the class
of the unmarried hovfröken (maid of honor , until 1719 hovjungfru)
which could be promoted to kammarfröken (Chief
Maid of Honor: until
1719 kammarjungfru). They were supervised by the hovmästarinna
(Court Mistress, equivalent to
Mistress of the Robes
From the reign of Queen Christina , the hovmästarinna was supervised by the överhovmästarinna (Chief Court Mistress). In 1774, the post of statsfru (Mistress of the State) was introduced, which was the title for the group of married ladies-in-waiting with rank between the hovmästarinna and the kammarfröken .
The Swedish court staff was reduced in size in 1873. The new court protocols of 1911 and 1954 continued this reduction, and many court posts was abolished or no longer filled.
With the exception of the statsfru and the överhovmästarinna, none of the titles above are longer in use. At the death of Queen Louise in 1965, her överhovmästarinna was employed by the King. From 1994, the överhovmästarinna are the head of the court of the King rather than the Queen, while the court of the Queen is headed by the statsfru. There are now only one statsfru, and the other ladies-in-waiting are simply referred to as hovdam ('Court Lady').
Queen Silvia of Sweden has only three hovdamer ('court ladies'). Her chief lady-in-waiting is the statsfru.
These are a list of particularly well known and famous ladies-in-waiting of each nation listed. More can be found in their respective category.
* Countess Louise von Plessen (1725-1799)
ENGLAND AND GREAT BRITAIN
* Lady Mary Boleyn (с. 1499/1500-1543)
* Four of Henry VIII\'s later Queen consorts:
Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and Leicester
* Lettice Knollys , Countess of Essex and Leicester (1543-1634) * Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) * Ivy Gordon-Lennox , later Duchess of Portland (1887-1982) * Ruth, Lady Fermoy (1908-1993) * Lady Pamela Mountbatten (b. 1929) * Jane Loftus, Marchioness of Ely (1821-1890)
* Louise Marie of Savoy-Carignan, princesse de Lamballe (1749-1792)
Gabrielle de Polastron, comtesse de Polignac (1749-1793)
Louise-Elisabeth, Marquise de Tourzel
* Countess Sophie Chotek (1868-1914), later Duchess von Hohenberg
* Jang Ok-Jeong (1659-1701)
* Countess Julie Hauke (1825-1895), later Princess of Battenberg * Anna Vyrubova (1884-1964)
* Elisabet Ribbing (1596-1662), and later her morganatic daughter, Elisabet Carlsdotter Gyllenhielm (1622–1682) * Ulrika Strömfelt (1724-1780) * Augusta von Fersen (1754-1846) * Magdalena Rudenschöld (1766-1823)
* Vibhavadi Rangsit (1920-1977)
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Kolk 2009 .
* ^ A B C D E F G Duindam , p.
* ^ A B Kerkhoff , p.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M Akkerman 2013 , p.
* ^ A B C D E F G H Persson 1999 , p.
* ^ Almanach royal officiel de Belgique, Pour L'an 1841
* ^ "Lady Dugdale has succeeded the Hon Mary Morrison as
Lady-in-Waiting to The Queen" (
Court Circular , 1 June 1994).
* ^ British Monarchy 2016 .
* ^ A B Ebrey , p.
* ^ A B Walthall , p.
* ^ A B C Hsieh Bao Hua , p.
* ^ A B C Kjølsen 2010 , p.
* ^ William J. Thoms: The Book of the Court: Exhibiting the
History, Duties, and Privileges of the English
* Akkerman, Nadine (2013), The Politics of Female Households:
Ladies-In-Waiting Across Early Modern Europe
* Akkerman, Nadine; Houben, Birgit, The Politics of Female
Households: Ladies-in-waiting across Early Modern Europe
* Almanach de Gotha: annuaire généalogique, diplomatique et
* "Ladies-in-Waiting and Equerries", The Official website of the
British Monarchy, archived from the original on 3 February 2016
* Chung, Priscilla Ching, Palace Women in the Northern Sung, pp.
* Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "Honour", Encyclopædia
13 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 664
* Cruz, Anne J.; Stampino, Maria Galli, Early Modern Habsburg Women:
Transnational Contexts, Cultural Conflicts, dynastic continuities
* Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, Women and the Family in Chinese History
* Duindam, Jeroen Frans Jozef, Vienna and Versailles: The Courts of
Europe's Dynastic Rivals, 1550-1780
* Kolk, Caroline zum (June 2009), "The Household of the Queen of
France in the Sixteenth Century", The Court Historian, 14 (1)
* Hsieh Bao Hua, Concubinage and Servitude in Late Imperial China
* Gosman, Martin; Macdonald, Alasdair James; Vanderjagt, Arie Johan,
Princes and Princely Culture: 1450-1650
* Hamer, Dianne (2011), Sophie: biografie van Sophie van Würtemberg
(1818-1877) — op basis van brieven en dagboken
* Kägler, Britta, Frauen am Münchener Hof (1651-1756)
* Kerkhoff, Jacqueline, Maria van Hongarije en haar hof 1505-1558:
tot plichtsbetrachting uitverkoren
* Lebra, Takie Sugiyama, Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the
Look up LADY-IN-WAITING in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
* Alchin, Linda. "Lady in Waiting". Elizabethan Era. Retrieved 18 A