The Early-Modern German Court, Part 2/3

Part One last week concentrated on the various aristocratic offices at court. This installment deals mainly with the commoners and domestics, including those responsible for hunting and military display. [For Part 3 go here.]

The office of Hofküchenmeister [Master of the Kitchen] was one of the few to be reserved for commoners, because it was seen as inappropriate for aristocrats to have anything to do with anything to do with economics. Even so, the kitchen [Hofküche] was the most important office to do with the support of the court.

The Hofküchenmeister was in charge of the Küchenschreiber [Comptroller of the Kitchen], who recorded everything that went in and out of the kitchen on a daily basis and was responsible for the accounts. Whatever additional stuff needed to be got from the market was financed by the Küchenmeister, who had his own budget for that. Every morning the dining plan was discussed with the staff of Mund-, Leib-, Kavaliers-, Bei– and Unterköche [senior, personal, knights’, assistant and sous-chefs respectively; sing. -koch] for the different tables. For specialty dishes, specialists like a Hofzuckerbäcker [confectioner] or Pastetenkoch [pastry cook, pie-maker] were available. Other specialist services were carried out by a Brat- und Backmeister [Master Baker], Hofmetzger [Court Butcher], Zehrgeber [to be honest I’m not sure about this one – I think it means ‘provisioner’, maybe someone responsible for provisioning the court on the move] or Geflügelwart [Master of the Poultry]. Lesser kitchen personnel included Küchenjungen [kitchen boys; sing. Junge], Küchenweiber [Kitchen girls; sing. –weib], Mägde [maids; sing. Magd] and Knechte [scullions; sing. Knecht].

Closely connected with the court kitchen and, where applicable, the court bakery [Hofbäckerei] was the court cellar [Hofkeller], which was an outgrowth of the traditional office of Mundschenk and which was led by the Kellermeister [Master of the Cellars], assisted by one or more Kellerschreiber [Comptrollers of the Cellars] and, lower down, Kellerknechte [cellar squires].

The Hoffurier [Steward] was the link between the servants and their masters. He was responsible for courtly ceremonial and order. The Furieramt [stewardship] organised receptions, celebrations and journeys and was responsible for daily routine, e.g. meals and food, seating arrangements, work schedules, lighting. The steward was in charge of the Livréedienerschaft [liveried servants] as well as the female personnel like the Leibwäscherin, Hofwäscherin down to Bettmagd [various washerwomen of descending importance]. The bedding, tableware (including porcelain) and cutlery (especially silverware) were kept in the Silberkammer [pantry]. A variety of people were in charge of this, from the Obersilberkämmerer [Master of the Pantry], down to Silberknechte, Silberpolierer [polishers] and Zinnswäscherinnen [female pewter-cleaners; sing. Zinnswäscherin]

The Oberjägermeister [Master of the Hunt] was in charge of various aspects of hunting and forestry, including maintaining the forests, woodcutting, charcoal-burning to maintenance of hunting dogs. He led a personnel which included Forstmeister [verderers], Jagdjunker [Squires of the Hunt], Förster [foresters] and Knechte. The office included protecting princely hunting rights and putting on hunting parties.

The Stallmeister [Master of the Horse] was in charge of the Marstall [Royal Stables / Mews] and belonged to the highest level of the court hierarchy. Along with the people under his command, the Stallmeister [equerries; same sing.], Wagenmeister [coachmen; same sing.], Bereiter [grooms; same sing.], Schmieden [smiths; sing. Schmied], Wagner [wainwrights; same sing.], Sattler [saddlers; same sing.], Knechte and so on, he was responsible for the horses, their purchase, feeding and accommodation as well as for the coaches. The princes’ horses, as well as the state and personal coaches, were kept separate from the common courtly ones. The latter had its own hierarchy. Feeding these horses was subject to close accounting and was a constant problem – some courts had a separate office for acquiring hay, oats and straw.

The court guard, the Leibwache [body guard], Feldgard [standing troop], Trabantenkorps [horse guards] and Husare [Hussars; sing. Husar] didn’t just protect the princely family and secure the castle/palace, they were also there for public display. They were often in highly ornate uniforms and accompanied courtiers at visits and receptions.

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