Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Posts Tagged ‘Henry VIII’

Manners Make The Man

Posted by Admin on March 13, 2021

Some of us have been told that manners make the man (or woman) from a very young age without understanding what that idiom means other than it matters to be polite when in the presence of others. What it means is that politeness, civility, and good manners are essential to easy interactions with others in society.  Sometimes people say manners make the man and sometimes people say manners maketh man.  At the end of the day, it’s the same idiom.

The expression has been around for quite some time, and is still used even in television programs and movies. It’s a favorite expression used by Colin Firth’s character, Harry Hart, in Kingsman: The Secret Service. In one episode, the following scene is seen.

[Harry walks over to the front door and starts locking it]

HARRY HART: Manners maketh man. Do you know what that means? Then let me teach you a lesson.

[with the hook of his umbrella, he grabs a glass and swings it at Rottweiler’s head and knocks him out]

Thirty or so years earlier, musician Sting used it in his very popular song “Englishman in New York” on his “Nothing Like The Sun” CD in 1987.

“If ‘manners maketh man,’ as someone said
Then he’s the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself, no matter what they say.”

In The Monthly Magazine edition of 1 April 1816 the continuation of “A Morning’s Walk From London to Kew” by English schoolteacher, author, publisher, and vegetarianism activist Sir Richard Phillips (13 December 1767 – 2 April 1840) included not only the idiom but a reference as to who was the first to coin the expression.

In a word, either ought not the manners of certain of our public schools to be corrected, and their system of instruction to be rendered accordant with the actual state of knowledge; or ought they not to be shamed by the wise and good, who seek the happiness of their offspring and the welfare of society? Is it less true now than in the day of William of Wykeham, that “Manners maketh man!” and ought not the vices and passions of congregated youth, who too often possess dangerous means of gratification, to become objects of the systemic correction of some modern Lycurgus?

Two centuries earlier, a variation of the expression was included in The London Prodigal published in1605: ‘For thers an old saying: Be he rich, or be he poore, Be he hye, or be he lowe, Be he borne in barne or hall, Tis maners makes the man and all.’

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 1: This play is attributed to William Shakespeare and was performed by the King’s Men. Of course, no one knows for certain if William Shakespeare actually wrote this play as his name appears on the title page of the only edition and scholars generally dismiss this as proof William Shakespeare wrote it. The play has also been attributed to Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, John Marston, Michael Drayton, Thomas Heywood, and George Wilkins. What is known as fact is that it was published in 1605 by London publisher Nathanial Butler (died 22 February 1664) and printed by Thomas Creede (1593 – 1617).

William Horman (1440 to April 1535) was the headmaster of Eton College (1485 -1484) and then Winchester College ( 1495 – 1501). He began his education, however, as a pupil at William of Wykeham’s college in Winchester in 1468. This is important for a number of reasons, one of which is the fact that Winchester College’s motto was “manners makyth man.” Additionally, William Horman’s book, “The Vulgaria” contained a collection of English phrases with their Latin translations which was published in 1519, and it is in this book that the idiom is found.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 2: In the introduction to his book, William Horman states he put the book together while still a schoolmaster several years earlier.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 3: William Horman signed a contract with Richard Pynson (he was one of the first printers of English books) on 28 June 1519 to produce 800 “whole and perfect copies” of his book in 35 chapters. Richard Pynson (1449 – 1529) was the King’s Printer to Henry VII as well as Henry VIII, and was responsible for printing and published the majority of official legal materials. He is also responsible for printed the first cookery book in English, and an illustrated edition of “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer.

The motto of William of Wykeham (1320 – 1404) as well as the motto of New College, Oxford which was founded by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester was “manners makyth man.”

While still acting as the Archdeacon of Lincoln in 1361, his seal displayed both his coat of arms with the motto. In 1395, the motto appeared on a scroll above the coat of arms on the north side of the nave of the Bradford Peverell church near Dorchester.  However, during this same time period, there was another proverb that was well known, that being “manners and clothing makes man.”

During this time period, manners had two meanings: One of which dealt with a person’s character, and the other dealt with etiquette. Together, manners referred to one’s morals and ethics as well as their outward deportment.

INTERESTING GRAMMAR NOTE FROM THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY: [T]he normal third person singular ending in standard southern English was -eth. The form -(e)s, originally from Northern dialect, replaced -eth in most kinds of use during the seventeenth century. A few common short forms, chiefly doth, hath, continued often to be written, but it seems likely that these were merely graphic conventions.

Now manners only became a thing of note during the Medieval era which ended in 1500, so it’s not surprising to learn that William of Wykeham coined the expression back in 1361. Of course, if readers know of an earlier published version of the idiom, we would love to add this to the entry.

Until that happens, Idiomation pegs the expression to 1361 and credits it to William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester.

Posted in Idioms from the 14th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Like Turkeys Voting For Christmas

Posted by Admin on December 16, 2013

If people are like turkeys voting for Christmas, it means they have decided to accept a situation that will end badly for them. In other words, the action taken to resolve a situation is also ont that’s self-defeating at the same time. This doesn’t make for a good situation or a good solution no matter how you look at it.

When Nuala Nolan in Galway wrote to the Independent newspaper on January 4, 2011 she was concerned with the water distribution systems and the installation of water meters that would be unworkable with the next cold spell in Ireland. She wrote succinctly, and ended her Letter To The Editor with this question:

Are we not just like turkeys voting for Christmas when we agree to water charges in circumstances where the majority of working people will find a huge drop in their pay as a result of the recent Budget?

In the Financial Times article of November 28, 2010 entitled, “Europe Is Edging Towards The Unthinkable” by journalist, Wolfgang Münchau, the macro-arithmetics of the financial crisis in Europe were of great concern.   The eurozone strategy appeared to be the last bail-out option available, even though there was a small cushion amount between how much had already been spent and how much could be spent. He wrote in part:

Ms Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, were last week putting the final touches to their new bail-in rules, to introduce collective action clauses in sovereign bond contracts. I would not be surprised if at least one member state rejected the Franco-German diktat. For example, I cannot see how Spain or Italy can conceivably support them. To use a seasonal analogy, it would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.

It was on May 7, 2002 that Tobey Walne’s article “Equitable On The Brink” was published by the Daily Mail in London, England. The news story addressed Equitable’s assets and liabilities and the company’s current condition which was thought to possibly be worse than what was being presented. The second to last paragraph read:

Paul Braithwaite, chairman of the Equitable Members’ Action Group, says: ‘Equitable is running on paper-thin liquidity and the writing is on the wall. There are no prospects for it adding to holdings in stocks and shares or bringing back bonuses. For loyal policyholders, it has been like turkeys voting for an early Christmas.’

In 1978, Alistair Michie and English journalist and broadcaster, Simon Hoggart (born 26 May 1946) published a book entitled, “The Pact: The Inside Story of the Lib-Lab Government.” In 1977, James Callaghan (27 March 1912 – 26 March 2005) of the Labor government forged an agreement with the Liberal party led by David Steel to safeguard against a successful motion of no confidence pushing through. The pact was confirmed on September 7, 1978 and the Labor government was able to remain in power until May 1979 when a general election was called. This passage appears in the book:

“Us voting for the Pact is like a turkey voting for Christmas,” said David Penhaligon. But they did agree that Steel should see Callaghan that afternoon.

The person identified as having used the idiom was David Charles Penhaligon (6 June 1944 – 22 December 1986) — a British politician from Cornwall, and a Liberal Member of Parliament for the constituency of Truro. But contrary to what the Oxford Dictionary says, he was not the originator of the expression as the idiom was used in The Alice Glenn Report, Volume 1, Number 3 dated May 1986.  Alice Glenn (17 December 1921 – 16 December 2011) a Fine Gael candidate for Dublin Central in Ireland, was an outspoken person during the 1986 Divorce Referendum in Ireland, and in her leaflet of May 1986 she entitled the front page story, “A Woman Voting For Divorce Is Like A Turkey Voting For Christmas.”

The expression is actually an Irish proverb: A turkey never voted for an early Christmas. Idiomation hasn’t found any resource book disputing that the proverb is, indeed, an Irish proverb, however, a date cannot be affixed to the proverb.

That being said, turkeys were brought from America to England and Ireland by William Strickland in 1526, and it’s believed that King Henry VIII was the first to enjoy roasted turkey. When turkeys were introduced to England and Ireland, families ate goose, boar or peacock at Christmas. By the early 1600s, turkey was found at major Tudor banquets held by those of financial means and power. As the 17th century rolled around, families of means were able to add turkey to the options for Christmas meals. Just as turkey replaced good as the main dish at Christmas, so it replaced it in the proverb which used to be: A goose never voted for an early Christmas.

It would be at this point (one would think) that if geese and turkeys could vote, that they would vote for the other to be served up for Christmas.  It would be unthinkable that they would vote for their own kind to be on the menu.  Likewise, no reasonable person would put themselves in danger and vote to be put in an untenable position.

Idiomation, therefore, pegs the original saying of a turkey  never voted for an early Christmas to the early 1600s, with the variation following afterwards, modified as proverbs often are.

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

King’s Ransom

Posted by Admin on December 15, 2010

What exactly does it mean when someone says they’ve paid a King’s ransom for someone’s services or for an item?  A King’s ransom has always referred to the payment of a great deal of money to secure something the other person has in his or her possession, be it another person, an item, knowledge, experience, et al.

The History of American Yachts and Yachtsmen, published in 1901 spoke of a king’s ransom as it referred to Queen’s Cup:

Such is the brief history of the first dawn of American yachting history. A, comparatively speaking, valueless cup, but worth a king’s ransom by reason of the fifty years of glamour surrounding it, the cup which was presented under the now famous deed of gift to the New York Yacht Club July 8, 1867, to be preserved as a perpetual challenge trophy between the United States and foreign countries, not alone England, as is so often understood — but it hardly seems probable than any other country would now feel it exactly etiquette to try for it, at all events not until England has again won it, which seems a rather remote contingency,  judging from past history.

But almost 200 years before then, the British were desperate to rule the oceans.  In 1714, British Parliament passed the ‘Longitude Act’, stating that a reward of £20,000, a king’s ransom, was to be awarded to anyone who found a practical solution to the longitude problem. The longitude problem was the most exasperating scientific dilemma of the day and had been for centuries. In fact, the quest for a solution had occupied scientists for the better part of two centuries before the Longitude Act was passed.

In 1622, the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha — carrying with it what was described as a king’s ransom in treasure consisting of 1,038 bars of silver, at least 7,175 ounces of gold (although gold smuggled aboard may have resulted in double or triple the amount recorded), and approximately 230,000 silver coins —  was sunk by driving wind and rain that tossed the ship onto the reefs and shoals off the Marquesas Keys, just off the coast of Florida. The ship went down in 50 feet of water and took all of the 260 lives aboard with her.

In 1525, during King Henry VIII‘s reign, according to public records held at the British Museum, Adrian de Croy, Lord of Beaurain entered into negotiations between Charles V of France and Henry VIII of England.  In a letter to a colleague, Beaurain wrote:

I cannot see how any peace be negotiated here for they are braver than ever.  As yet, the French show no intention of offering anything except their King’s ransom which is not our chief object.

In 1406, Prince James of Scotland had been sent to France to protect him from his uncle, the Duke of Albany, who had murdered James’s older brother, David.  However, before he could reach the safety of France, he was captured by the English off King’s Lynn and he spent the next 18 years of his life in the Tower of London, at the English court and in the English military service in France.  When Henry V died, the king’s ransom was negotiated and James was returned to Scotland (he was murdered some years later in 1437 at the Blackfriars Monastery in Perth by a group of lords led by the Earl of Atholl who just happened to be James’ uncle).

In 1346, King David of Scotland had assembled an army at Perth to invade England and on October 17, the Battle of Durham was fought.  The King was taken prisoner and held in the Tower of London.  While he was freed in 1357, the King’s ransom was outstanding 9 years later and the northern lords refused to give their rate towards the ransom and other financial obligations.

During the 7th crusade in 1260, Louis IX was taken prisoner in Egypt by the Turks who were in a position of strength and were led by the famous Mamluk general, Baybars.  They attacked Damietta and captured Louis IX and demanded that Louis IX‘s followers pay an enormous ransom worthy of a King’s place to secure his release. Prior to this event, no one had ever stated that they were holding a King ransom in exchange for financial enrichment, and for good reason.

The word ransom comes from the Old French word rançon, and earlier raenson which means”redemption.”   This comes from the Latin word redemptionem which means “a redeeming” from redimere. The verb is first recorded in the 13th century and therefore, it would be impossible to pay — much less demand — a king’s ransom prior to this date.

Posted in Idioms from the 13th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Landed Gentry

Posted by Admin on December 13, 2010

Landed gentry is a traditional social class found not only in the United Kingdom but also in parts of Europe.  It was made up of heads of household(read:  men) who were without title (read: they were not considered part of nobility) and who were considered members of upper class society. 

The landed gentry usually owned extensive land such as country estates, which oftentimes included tenanted farms, and their immediate family, although some were also involved in public service.  Because of financial circumstances, these men had no need for employment outside of managing their own lands and investments. 

Some of the landed gentry still hold land that their mediaeval ancestors held and many families of mediaeval descent can lay claim to having had one or more ancestors who increased or renewed the family fortunes through service to the Crown. 

The concept of landed gentry has continued from Medieval Times through to recent history.  For example, sixteen years ago, The Right Honourable Chevalier Professor Sir Devendra Prasad Varma, Ph.D., passed away unexpectedly.  His obituary read in part:

Dr Varma was a retired Full Professor Emeritus from Dalhousie University at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Born in Darbhanga, a Himalayan village overlooking Mount Everest on October 17th, 1923 to landed gentry parents, he eventually became a British / Canadian citizen. He was an internationally acclaimed scholar and the author of dozens of major articles and books in the scholarly discipline of Gothic Studies, making him the pre-eminent scholar in the field.

Back in the 1400s, the formation of the centralized Russian state in the second half of the 15th century led to the rise of a large cavalry composed of landed gentry.  It was only during the 1630’s that the landed gentry cavalry began to be gradually replaced by cavalry regiments organized in reiter and dragoon regiments.

Katharine Parr — the last of King Henry VIII‘s wives — was born into the landed gentry in 1512.  Formerly married to Edward Borough, whose father was a country squire and then to John Neville, Lord Latimer, Katharine Parr continued her upwardly rise in society when she married Henry VIII (after Henry VIII‘s death, she married a former suitor, Thomas Seymour, who had courted her at the same time as she was being courted by Henry VIII).

The farthest back that the term landed gentry can be traced to is 1030 when the Danish Viking King Sweyn invaded and conquered England. His son, Prince Canute was declared King of England upon King Sweyn‘s sudden death on February 3, 1014.  Among King Canute‘s Chiefs was a man known for making superior swords.  He found favour with King Canute who christened him Genergan which, translated into English, means “Iron Famous” and gave him the title of landed gentry in England. 

The name Genergan was later changed to Jernigan and the descendants of this line have been Knights, Barons and Baronets. At one point the Jernigan Barony even laid legal claim to the Stafford Barony.

Posted in Idioms from the 11th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Red Tape

Posted by Admin on March 23, 2010

This phrase was first noted in historical records in the 16th century, when Henry VIII sent Pope Clement VII approximately 80 petitions regarding his request for the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.  Keeping with the custom of the day, each one was sealed and bound with the obligatory red tape.

The tradition continued through to the 18th century.   The binding of documents and official papers with red tape was popularized in the writings of Thomas Carlyle who protested against official inertia.

In the U.S., all American Civil War veterans’ records were bound in red tape, and the difficulty in accessing them led to the current negative use of the term.

In 1996, Congress passed the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act referred to as the Red Tape Reduction Act.  In 1998, the province of Ontario saw the Red Tape Reduction Act receive Royal Assent on December 18, 1998.  Other provinces in Canada have followed suit with their own Red Tape Reduction Acts being enacted.

Posted in Idioms from the 16th Century, Idioms from the 18th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »