How did butlers appear, and what is the essence of this profession
Categories: HistoryBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/how-did-butlers-appear-and-what-is-the-essence-of-this-profession.html
We all know about the existence of butlers from a young age. People of this profession are present in the literary works of foreign authors, films and TV series. We associate them with British aristocrats, old mansions and prim receptions. How did butlers appear and what did they do before and what are they doing now?
If now the butler is inseparable for us from a tray with a coffee pot or cups of English tea, then once these people were responsible only for alcohol. Even in ancient times there were cupbearers, whose competence included barrels and amphorae with intoxicating drinks.
The work of the cupbearer was very responsible. It was necessary to monitor not only the availability of wine and timely replenishment of stocks. It was also necessary to control the quality of drinks, which could well be poisoned by detractors. Therefore, the selection of applicants for this place was approached extremely seriously.
In the Middle Ages in England, wine began to be stored not only in barrels, but also in bottles. It was then that the modern British name of the butler profession appeared - butler. The word comes from the Anglo-Norman buteler and is directly related to bottles.
Butlers were in charge of the wine cellars and served bottled alcohol to the table. The feudal lords of the Middle Ages wanted to trust such people in the same way as the ancient patricians to cupbearers. Poisoning was still one of the most popular ways to settle accounts with enemies. Well, the person who was trusted to serve wine was trusted in all other spheres of life.
Thus, butlers gradually became the people responsible for the order in the house. They managed the supplies and coordinated the actions of the servants, of whom there were sometimes a lot. An employee who heads the servants and enjoys the unlimited location of the owner - this is how you can characterize butlers.
Finally, the image of the butler was formed in Britain in the second half of the 19th century. In the Victorian era, the duties of these people were clearly defined, and even a special moral code appeared. The butlers had their own style of dress and a special manner of communicating with the owners of the estate.
Butlers were often extremely loyal to the families they worked for. Sometimes they served in one place all their lives and helped solve everyday problems for more than one generation of the estate's residents. A good, loyal butler was practically a member of the family and knew all the secrets of his employers.
The First World War dealt a serious blow to the traditional way of life of English high society. Most households have changed their structure and in some places they have refused the services of butlers. This profession has become less popular, but this does not mean that it has disappeared altogether. Butlers still serve in the homes of wealthy residents of the UK and not only.
The butler usually headed the male part of the servants, and the housekeeper was in charge of the female staff. But if there was no housekeeper position, then a male butler took over the management of maids and cooks. In the Victorian era, there could be 12 or more servants in the house, so the responsibility on him was serious.
Moreover, if necessary, the butler had to replace any servant. When there was not enough staff, for example, during the arrival of numerous guests, even the work of a footman had to be done. The butlers were assigned the duty of selecting servants — they always had their first interview with these trusted persons.
The butler himself was usually hired by the head of the family. Having got a job on the estate, he received a salary, food, uniforms and, of course, housing. Tips from house guests and gifts were a good increase in wages. It was customary to reward the butler additionally for good work and make him presents on holidays.
Both the owners and the guests of the house addressed the butler exclusively by last name. Since the other servants were lower in the hierarchy, they also added a respectful "mister". In special cases, when the house was very large and there were especially many servants, two butlers were hired. At the same time, one of them was the senior, and the second was his assistant.
After the First World War, the way of traditional English households began to change rapidly. This was reflected primarily on the butlers. Throughout the 20th century, this profession was not particularly in demand. But in the 21st century, interest in it has grown again.
Rich people again felt the need to have people in their homes who are ready to take on a lot of household worries. A large modern farm requires a serious and professional approach. For these purposes, only a professional is needed, so butlers have become in demand again.
But 21st century butlers have slightly different responsibilities than their 19th century counterparts. They drive cars, are well versed in electronic systems and know a lot about services that provide comfort. But eternal values also remained relevant. People of this profession should be tactful, fair, accurate and polite. They should also be able to keep the secrets of their employer and his family.
As before, the English school of butlers remains the most popular. There are several prestigious institutions in the UK that train such specialists. Gender equality has also come here — now female butlers are not uncommon at all.
The salary of a good employee is quite high. Professionals in their field can count on income at the level of 40 thousand pounds per year (7 million rubles), and sometimes even higher. Of course, only very wealthy people can pay for the services of a butler in this way, and it is they who are creating the main demand for such specialists now.
We also have butlers in our country. Domestic farm managers are somewhat different from their British counterparts. They are less bound by the canons of the profession and have less high income. If in the UK and the USA the duties of a butler are standard, then they are usually discussed specifically here.
In tsarist Russia, landlords also had many servants. But under serfdom in rich manors everything was arranged differently than in English mansions and castles.