The Matter of Manners

In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilisation in Early Modern England by Keith Thomas Yale, 2018, 457 pages, $59.99 _____________________________________ Among the Bodleian Library’s celebrated Douce Collection of arcana, incunabula and later works is an instructional manuscript of circa 1350, which contains the first-known written English expression of what was almost certainly already a cliché—“Maner makys man”. Maybe William of Wykeham, Chancellor of England to Edward III and Richard II, read this very manuscript, because when he founded Winchester College and New College, Oxford, in the 1370s he chose “Manners makyth man” as motto for both. But what did “manners”…

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