Protocol and Etiquette: Behavior Within the Court of the Illistimi Elves

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Protocol and Etiquette: Behavior Within the Court of the Illistimi Elves is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

This document is intended as an elaboration upon the nuances of behavior particular to court life, focusing on protocol, etiquette and address. The foreign scholar who has interest in the relationship between the nobility and the court, or who requires a primer on the prominent families of the Illistim, is recommended to reference Illuvassas' work, within which a thorough explanation of Illistim institutions and organizations can be found.

Protocol and Etiquette: Behavior Within the Court of the Illistim Elves

Compiled by Hiraani Gael Illistim, Scholar of House Illistim

15 Eorgaen in the year 5109

Modern Era

Part I. Introduction

The Illistim court is decidedly elven, but uniquely its own entity. Being less bound by tradition than the courts of its sister empires, the elven notion of nobility inherent in all citizens is expressed to its fullest through the open, accessible and expansive court system, which in theory spans the entirety of the Illistim lands, but in practice is largely focused day-to-day within the walls of Ta'Illistim herself.

Because of the relative breadth of Illistim court affairs, and the extent to which it allows for daily involvement, both amongst citizens and foreign visitors, it is often assumed that the court follows a loose system of protocol. This is not the case. The protocol of Illistim court life is no less involved than that of the Nalfein or Loenthra, only more open to modern revision and allowances of the modern reality of society. In Ta'Illistim, all elves participate in some fashion in court life, though to what extent and with what degree of seriousness varies. The monarch is the chief determiner of the court's seasons, events and tone.

Part II. Illistim's Argent Mirror

The reigning monarch is a symbolic figure, and as such is awarded a public and social deference otherwise unknown within the egalitarian Illistim society. Historically, the role has been predominately female. It is acceptable among the Illistim to defer to the monarch, to be obeisant to the monarch, because the monarch represents the best of the people at large. She is the embodiment of her title, "Illistim's Argent Mirror," as she reflects the beauty of her people and her society. It is not, at the heart of it, the individual woman who is honored, but the beauty, wisdom and knowledge of the Illistim culture that she represents. This fact, combined with the limited tenure of any given monarch, has given rise in the modern Illistim court to a suite of social conventions.

Unlike in some foreign courts, the Illistim do not observe the practice of "monarchial presence," save during formal audiences (be they public or private). If the monarch is enthroned, one should approach no closer than the bottom step of the rostrum in the Argentate, or the base of the stepped throne in a private audience chamber. The monarch enthroned is the embodiment of the Illistim, and is second only to pure knowledge in respect granted. If the monarch is not sitting in state, it is acceptable to address her as "The Argent" if engaged directly in conversation. "Argent Mirror" is acceptable only in extended discourse, and terms like "Your Ladyship," and "Your Highness" are acceptable never. The monarch should be greeted with a bow of at least the head by elven men, and a curtsy by elven women. It is not required that foreign, non-diplomatic visitors bow or curtsy to the monarch, but is considered good form regardless.

The physical person of the monarch is inviolate, and should not be touched in any manner without her clear consent. This restriction is extended to include the kissing on or shaking of the monarchial hand. It is at the monarch's discretion if she wishes to extend her hand for a formal kiss, and a handshake is considered crass.

Part III. The Council of Thrones

The Council of Thrones is comprised entirely of former monarchs, and is regarded as an august, though not sovereign, body. The pomp that surrounds the current monarch does not extend, in a daily fashion, to the members of the Council as individuals. They are privileged in their unobstructed access to the monarch, but receive no special honorifics or heraldic devices. The only nod to their former status are the individual chairs that surround the table in the Ta'Illistim Keep Council Round. Each chair is marked above by the seal of House Illistim and below by the seat-holder's individual crest. A member of the Council of Thrones should be addressed as appropriate per their non-Council affiliations and status, with deference given to the name they choose, whether it be their pre-monarchial name, royal name or a post-monarchial selection. For titles, "Lord" or "Lady" is acceptable, as is "Madam", but "Sir" and "Mistress" are considered a slight. Members of the council address each other as "Lady and Lord Councillor," but only when seated in the Council Round during formal proceedings, and never in social situations. To do so outside of the bounds of governance would be against the most basic Illistimi principles of equality and would be considered the height of bad graces.

Part IV. The Argent Mirror's Household

The household of the monarch is maintained, in day-to-day matters, by the Office of Seneschal. This office keeps the monarch's calendar, arranges all official social events and is the designated vehicle for official communication with and for the monarch and any family she has residing with her in Ta'Illistim Keep. It is important to note that any members of the monarch's family who reside outside of the Keep are not considered part of the monarch's household.

Members of the monarch's household are to be addressed, as applicable to their gender, by the same formalities as the monarch herself. Children of the monarch who have not yet attained their majority, however, should not be bowed or curtsied to.

Part V. Public Audience.

Public audience is held at various times throughout the year in the Argentate of Ta'Illistim Keep, and is a formal affair. At the beginning of each social season the Seneschal announces the upcoming date and time of the audience, as well as its purpose and any stipulations upon attendance. Commonly, audiences are two-part in nature, containing both a prepared agenda on the part of the monarch and a more open forum for the airing of issues by the populace. The monarch may make announcements, recognize members of the government or award honorifics, such as titles and jewels for the adornment of personal crests.

Stipulations upon attendance at public audience include whether or not the audience is open to elves only, citizens of Ta'Illistim only or the public at large. It is expected that those who attend a public audience, even if they are not of Illistimi background, will be respectful. Failure to do so may result in ejection from the audience or the application of appropriate charges, if necessary. Weapons should be sheathed or secured and spells calmed.

Dress during a public audience is formal, though in a nod towards modern mores the wearing of armor is acceptable for both men and women, provided it is in good condition and worn neatly. Women not wearing armor are expected to don a gown, and should be mindful of the current trends, styles and colors favored by the court.

Part VI. Private Audience

On occasion, the monarch may deem it necessary or prudent to hold smaller audiences, in more private settings. An invitation to the private audience chambers of Ta'Illistim Keep is still a formal affair, and should not be mistaken for anything else. Invitations will be sent, marked with the House Illistim seal and issued from the Office of the Seneschal. Within the invitation will be the time, date and any special stipulations as to dress.

Receipt of an "invitation" to a private audience should be considered a summons, though with no negative connotation, and is for the individuals listed only. It is a breach of protocol to bring an unbidden escort.

Part VII. Foreign Officials

Foreign monarchs within the bounds of Illistim lands are accorded the same status as the ruling monarch, and their family members and households the same status as would be offered comparable members of the monarch's household. When addressing a foreign monarch, the use of their formal state title is expected, with family members offered "Your Royal Lord," or "Your Royal Ladyship," as appropriate. The term "Highness" is not used within Illistim holdings.

As per tradition when visiting Ta'Illistim, foreign dignitaries are lodged outside of the Keep proper and given leave to manage their household as they see fit. It is considered an honor to one's family to be asked to temporarily provide lodging to a foreign royal party, and the head of the displaced family is often offered quarters within the Keep for the duration. Only the monarch and Illistim elves of the monarch's choosing may reside within the Keep's walls, and it is not considered a diplomatic discourtesy for foreigners to be housed elsewhere.

Part VIII. Letters to the Monarch

All formal written correspondence with the monarch should be channeled through the Office of the Seneschal, who shall determine the appropriate tier of response, be it a written reply from a member of the Seneschal's staff, the Seneschal proper, a member of the Council of Thrones, a Lady-in-Waiting, or, on the most rare of occasions, the monarch herself.

Letters should refer to the monarch as "The Argent Mirror." On those occasions when the monarch responds herself and invites further written exchange, future letters should begin with "May it please the Argent," or "May it please the Mirror." Replace any references to "you" with "Illistim's Mirror" and "your" with "Your Reflection" or "Your Reflection's."

It is considered the highest honor to receive a personal, unsolicited missive from the reigning monarch and the height of poor manners to advertise it publicly.

Part IX. Conclusion

The presence of the monarchy, and the social niceties surrounding them, are part of a larger pattern of behavioral expectations that reinforce the egalitarianism of Illistim society. By codifying what is acceptable and what is not, and by defining who is deserving of more formality and in what manner, it strengthens the elven notion that all elves are worthy of a base, albeit naturally high, level of respect. Though certain members of Illistim society are given elevated status, that status is temporary, its limits defined.

Published February 15, 2014.