28 Sep 2013 04:14:27PM
Elizabethan Speech and How to Address Others
Elizabethan England society was very socially stratified and as such one was always aware of their rank among the larger scheme of things. Based upon one's physical description you can usually find the appropriate method of address: "My Lord", "My Lady", "Good Wife", "Goodly Juggler", etc. The art of addressing people was perfected out of necessity at this time. Remember your rank and how you would react to those of a higher and/or lower station than yourself.
People of the time wore clothes that suited their rank in life, and (fortunately) this makes them easier to identify. When addressing people of equal station you can be less formal. For instance: the Earl of Rycroft might call the Earl of Worth either "Worth" or "My Lord cousin", etc. However a merchant or peasant would call them "Lord", or "My Lord", or "My Lord, Earl".
When addressing a well-dressed, upper class person of whose station you're not certain it is always safe to address them as "Sir" or "Mistress."
Do not assume the rank of the nobility because more often than not you will miss some obscure title and insult the noble. For safety's sake use "My Lord" or "My Lady" if you do not know their name or title.
The Queen is referred to as "Your Highness", or "Your Grace''. In the third person, the Queen may be called "Her Highness". Dukes and Duchesses are also addressed as "Your Grace". Office holdersmay be called "Your Honour".