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Discussing: Palace Staff

Palace Staff

Can anyone give me a rough idea as to how many workers it takes to manage a King's palace? How big? I dunno, like six storeys or something with a heap of lawns and gardens and stables - the lot. Also, what jobs would there be besides cooking and cleaning etc. And would many of the servants live there in their own rooms or whatever? TIA



Re: Palace Staff

Hi, Just speculating here, mostly..... I would imagine it depends on the king and the politics of the day. Not all kings have the same amount of wealth or the same need when it comes to a palace. Some palaces are grand, showy places built simply to impress people with the king's wealth. Some palaces are really fortresses, perhaps with some fine furnishings if the king's circumstances allow it, but probably pretty basic with very thick walls. In any case, I would not expect them to be more than two stories (the main level and a dungeon/basement level) with the exception of the occasional tower. However, even if you make it six stories (in which case, it is probably a showy palace, not a defensive fortification), the basic staff would probably run as such: a butler (the guy in charge of making sure the household runs smoothly), maids, a stable master and a smith (might be the same person), a captain of the guard (could also be the smith/stable master/ councilor/ etc.), a cook (or several cooks), a gardener (or two or three), a physician and/or priestly-type person, a clerk, a carpenter, a weaver/tailor, etc. What sort of staff would depend a lot on the king and circumstances. In Gondor, there are probably the scores of servants. In Mirkwood, there are probably few servants (a butler and a captain of the guard, for certain.) In Rohan, the women of the household (Eowyn, etc.) did much of the household stuff, and the Rohirrim probably tended to the weapons and horse-related duties themselves. Eowyn would have managed the household, instead of a butler, including such things as sewing, washing, cooking, etc. (she wouldn’t have scrubbed floors or anything like that, but floors have not always been scrubbed. ;-)) In palaces with scores of servants, the servants probably have servant’s quarters. In places like Mirkwood, the butler would have his quarters. The captain of the guard may or may not have had his own quarters – he may have had a hut or flet with his family, or slept in a military barracks, it’s hard to say. Also, in places like Mirkwood, Doriath, Rivendell, etc. – the servants may have been more what you might call staff than servants and may not have lived in the palace at all, but gone home to their own hut or flet, etc., at the end of the day. Speculation, like I said. That is a pretty generalized question. Karri



Re: Palace Staff

The butler could also be called, depending on who he serves, a chamberlain or a steward. I can see Eowyn definitely running the household of Meduseld. I don't think she would personally cook; but she would supervise the Cook(s) and advise the staff on what should be cooked and when, i.e. for significant occasions. She'd probably bring home the food occasionally if the hunters and warriors are busy, or at least she'd be capable of it. I think there would have been at least one or two maids in Meduseld. Eowyn might have done the King's needlework, but I don't see her scrubbing the floors herself... Wasn't Erestor some kind of butler in Rivendell? Good question. RAKSHA



Re: Palace Staff

Is it safe to assume that the smaller number of 'royal people' living in the palace, the less servants would be needed? Say like, the King, the Queen and four children as well as a Chief Minister guy and his wife and two kids lived there. I think there should be more servants than usual because of six storeys to clean. Okay how about this, the King is ridiculously wealthy and allows all servants/staff the opportunity to live on the palace grounds since there is so much space and the grounds are almost like a little village thing where there are beautiful houses built for the staff and their families. And they either buy the homes or rent them out and they can go to town because theres roads and stuff leading out of the palace grounds... Where did all that come from, I wonder? Is it a little too idealistic? Yes, and the main reason why the King is so rich is because there has been peace and joy for the last millenium-and-a-half. I always thought Erestor was the geeky organised type. He may very well have been a 'butler' since he organised all the Imladris household affairs etc, but 'Erestor the Butler' sounds so funny...



Re: Palace Staff

Sure- here's amodern example A 'desert man' with a big portfolio...Prince Alwaleed "I believe in living," he said. "If God blesses you with good amount of wealth, I think you should enjoy it. Not live lavishly, but enjoy yourself. And I believe in living happily, and having people around you live happily. I believe in that. So I live happily." Happily indeed. Mostly, in the Prince's 460,000 square foot palace. He calls it home... Quaint, it isn't. It's 317 rooms include 18 sitting rooms, 15 dining rooms, 10 bedrooms, 16 pantries and one dozen elevators. The garage is big, too. It has to be, to accommodate the Prince's hundreds of cars, many of them top-of-the-line models from Daewoo, because he's been an investor in the company. There are also assorted vans, trucks and SUVs for the Prince's weekly getaways to the desert. There's the obligatory Rolls Royce. And, of course, there's the Batmobile - used by Batman, in the movie - which belongs to the Prince's 22-year-old son. The prince's kitchen, a 30,000 square foot facility, has enough staff and equipment to feed more than 1,000 people on any given day. And that's on top of 20 smaller kitchens scattered throughout the palace... In attendance: The Prince's entourage, including his full-time doctor, his full-time hair-stylist, and dozens of other retainers who are on hand to keep him company. ...Whatever calories he does consume are easily burned in his gym - really a 100,000 square foot sports complex - with rows upon rows of Nautilus equipment and its own bowling alley. There's no fancy artwork, because the Prince thinks that's a rip-off. But there are 400 telephones, 520 TV sets, and 100 VCRs, two-thirds of them in a master control room, where attendants record His Highness's 70 favorite channels, 24 hours a day. The Prince's bedroom is large, but his closet is larger. Among other things, it holds his 3,000 pairs of shoes and hundreds of pairs of sunglasses. This, for a man who doesn't lose anything. After all, he has a Palace staff of 220 to make sure nothing is out of place. Does he think he lives lavishly? "No, I don't," he said. "I live happily. Now, maybe to some people it's lavish. I will acknowledge that. But to me I live happily... And if the Prince lives large, he also gives large. Each day at lunch, his guests include a handful of people looking for handouts. A recent woman visitor wanted a car. She sang the prince's praises - shouted them, actually - as is tradition in Saudi Arabia. The prince was amused. So the car was hers. All told, the Prince says his handouts top $100 million a year, to more than 70,000 families. Their names are carefully recorded, so that no one receives more than one gift per year... This sounds about the right size for your six storey royal palace. Gwynnyd



Re: Palace Staff

Let me get this straight: He doesn't own art, because he thinks it's a rip-off, but his son has a Batmobile as a souvenir of the movie? - Barbara (who thought she was being extravagant for buying the HoME books while unemployed...)



Re: Palace Staff

Whee! *claps in delight* I like, I like... As for the HoME books, I'm still getting around to buying them. Though every time I see the price tag on ONE I hit the floor. I had a flip through the UT 1 and it looks a little *yawn* - can someone tell me why so many names and places are mispelled? Hehe, I'm not cheap, I'm "economical"... ;)



Re: Palace Staff

Hey Gwynnyd! You have the same birthday as me! I can't get mine to show up though... Hello fellow Gemini! Cooooool...



Re: Palace Staff

Am thinking I should take it down to four storeys...



Re: Palace Staff

Regarding the administration of the household, a butler was originally the servant who was in charge of the wine cellar and perhaps served wine; much later, the term came to mean the head servant (however, he is a still considered only a servant). (The word was originally "bottelar" -- bottler.") In a great household, there would be a fairly high-ranking official overseeing the day to day operations of the household. This person's title might be seneschal (a nice medieval-sounding word) or steward. The OED defines the seneschal as An official in the household of a sovereign or great noble, to whom the administration of justice and entire control of domestic arrangements were entrusted. In wider use: a steward, ‘major-domo’. Several definitions are given for steward, including An official who controls the domestic affairs of a household, supervising the service of his master's table, directing the domestics, and regulating household expenditure; a major-domo. Note that, by an alternative definition, a steward is an official overseeing an estate in his employer's absence--like the Steward of Gondor! Since this is a great household, the household manager might be better styled a steward or seneschal than a butler. By the way, the OED is online at It gives you every possible (well, almost) definition, plus it indicates when a word came into the language--useful if you are trying to avoid anachronistic language in your LOTR story. Branwyn



Re: Palace Staff

I had the impression that in Gondor at least, the great houses, including the King's Residence and the Steward's House, would have either seneschals or chamberlains. Maybe a chamberlain for Faramir's House in the Citadel, and a seneschal for the home in Ithilien... Thanx for the OED URL. I'd been using AOL's dictionary and thesaurus; their dictionary always gives the date of the word's origin too, which is a big help. RAKSHA



Tolkien & OED

OT aside: When Tolkien was a young man, he worked on the OED: OED Newsletter 1919 and 1920, at the very start of his career, Tolkien worked on the staff of the Oxford English Dictionary; he later said of this time that he 'learned more in those two years than in any other equal period of my life'. ... The great majority of the entries for which slips of paper in Tolkien's distinctive handwriting survive in the OED archives lie in the alphabetical range waggle to warlock. ... Burchfield wrote to Tolkien to ask for his comments on a first draft of the Dictionary entry for hobbit. Tolkien's reply was characteristically painstaking: he offered a definition which was more than twice as long as that submitted by Burchfield, who subsequently published the longer version almost exactly as the creator of The Lord of the Rings had supplied it: In the tales of J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973): one of an imaginary people, a small variety of the human race, that gave themselves this name (meaning 'hole-dweller') but were called by others halflings, since they were half the height of normal men. In due course a few other Middle-Earth coinages also made their way into the OED, including mathom, orc (both in fact revivals of Old English words), and mithril. (The June 2002 update of OED Online features a revised entry for mithril, including earlier evidence of Tolkien's use of the word.) An entry for the derivative orcish has been prepared, and no doubt others will follow: for example, our files already contain examples of the word balrog. Tolkien's impact on the English language continues unabated. DrummerGirl



Re: Tolkien & OED

Additional OT aside-- If I go to the OED site at work, I can use the search function; at home, I get a message that I need to subscribe. I work for a health care system, so I know that their network does not have an institutional license for the OED. I am really mystified by this, though I do enjoy being able to play in the "word hoard" during my lunch break. Any idea what is going on? Regards Branwyn



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