courtesy Books

Quick Reference

A book that gives advice to aspiring young courtiers in etiquette and other aspects of behaviour expected at royal or noble courts. This kind of work—sometimes written in verse—first became popular in various parts of Europe in the late Middle Ages. In the Renaissance, some important courtesy books expanded more philosophically on the nature of the ideal gentleman and his varied accomplishments. The most influential of these was Baldessare Castiglione's Il Libro del Cortegiano (1528), a sequence of dialogues on court life and platonic love. English examples include Henry Peacham's The Compleat Gentleman (1622).

Subjects: Literature.

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