A Courtesy book
or Book of Manners
was a book dealing with issues of etiquette
Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group...
, behaviour and morals, with a particular focus on the life at princely courts. Courtesy literature
can be traced back to 13th Century German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
In England the vogue for such literature derived primarily from Elizabethan translations of three sixteenth-century Italian texts on courtly manners and morals: Baldassarre Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano
(1528), Giovanni della Casa
Giovanni della Casa was an Italian poet and cleric.-Biography:He was born at Florence, in Tuscany. He studied at Bologna, Padua, Florence and Rome, and by his learning attracted the patronage of Alexander Farnese, who, as Pope Paul III, made him archbishop of Benevento and later nuncio to Venice,...
’s Il Galateo
(1558) and Stefano Guazzo’s La Civil Conversazione
(1574). Thomas Hoby
Sir Thomas Hoby was an English diplomat and translator. He was born in 1530, the second son of William Hoby of Leominster, Herefordshire, by his second wife, Katherine, daughter of John Forden. He matriculated at St. John's College, Cambridge in 1546...
published The Courtyer
, his version of Il Cortegiano
, in 1561 (although he had made the translation a decade earlier). The work was read widely and influenced the writings of Shakespeare, Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...
and Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...
. Robert Peterson’s translation of Il Galateo
appeared in 1576. George Pettie published The Civil Conversation
, his translation of the first three books of Guazzo’s text, in 1581; the fourth and final book appeared five years later in a translation by Bartholomew Yonge. A well-known English example of the genre is Henry Peacham
Henry Peacham is the name shared by two English Renaissance writers who were father and son.The elder Henry Peacham was an English curate, best known for his treatise on rhetoric titled The Garden of Eloquence first published in 1577....
’s The Compleat Gentleman