Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Must Be of Gentle Birth


Pages at European Courts, Their Pay and Their Gorgeous Uniforms.

It is only at the imperial and royal courts of Europe that "the pretty page with the dimpled chin," so sweetly sung by the poet, and who constituted one of the most picturesque and romantic features of mediaeval times, still survives. Royal and imperial pages range in age from 12 to 16 years. They are appointed by the sovereign, enjoy pay, prerogatives and perquisite, much as do the grownup attendants on royalty, and are ascribed certain definite duties. Gentle birth is the first qualification for the post of royal page. At the courts of Vienna and Munich an ancestry of no less than 16 generations free from any plebeian strains on either father's or mother's side is required. In Britain and Russia so long a nobility is not demanded. The pages of honor in the court of Queen Victoria are generally the sons of distinguished officers of the army or of high dignitaries of the royal household.

These boys receive $500 a year each, and when they have served a period of five years each is presented with a commission in the guards. On state occasions they wear gorgeous uniforms of blue and silver. Besides serving on such occasions they have to devote a certain number of weeks every year to more private service at Windsor or at Osborne. One of their chief functions is to bear the queen's train when she holds a meeting of the privy council. The queen is rigid in her etiquette and never presides at councils without wearing her long black silk court train.

At the court of Berlin the pages figure at all state ceremonies, clad, like those of England, in blue and silver, and at the court banquets they stand behind the chairs of the royal and imperial personages. These personages, on rising from the table, sometimes address a few kindly words to the boys and present them with sweetmeats from the epergnes. These pages are chosen only from among the best looking boys of the School of Cadets, nearly all the members of which are of noble birth. At the court of St. Petersburg the corps of pages is a sort of imperial school where a number of lads, sons of noblemen and state dignitaries, both civil and military, are educated at the czar's expense and under his supervision. On attaining the eighteenth year they usually obtain commissions as officers of the regiment of Chevalier guards. — Pearson's Weekly.

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