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There are numerous depictions of early / high medieval Popes, Kings and Bishops sat on thrones, with arms and a back, and the saddles of the high medieval period had a padded back, but every depiction I've come across of a seated mortal, before the 15th Century, is shown sat on a stool or bench.

I'm curious when chairs emerged in Europe, if there were any rules prohibiting comfy chairs from all but the highest, or whether the depiction rules are purely an artistic thing / convention?

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    Have you seen this section of the wiki article? – Semaphore Sep 16 '15 at 6:10
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    a simple stool is cheaper, takes less skill and materials to build. They're also smaller. Of course Joe Average who had to make his own furniture would build those rather than ornate thrones for his tiny hovel. – jwenting Sep 16 '15 at 6:25
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    "A simple stool" is what Roman consul sat on. I can't say when exactly European rulers started using armchairs but they used "stools" for such a long time due to the tradition not comfort. – Matt Sep 16 '15 at 8:19
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    Umm, peasant life in the Middle Ages was not "comfy" in general. Of course carpenters can build fully fledged chairs, but benches have significantly lower material cost and were the most common furniture for that reason. – Semaphore Sep 16 '15 at 8:20
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    @Oldcat Nope. Even the part of aediles had the right to use the curule seat. And aedile is the civil rank. The point is that Romans borrowed the curule seat from Etruscans. So it's probable that Etruscans considered this seat as a kind of 'camp stool', but not Romans. – Matt Sep 18 '15 at 8:43
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Chairs have always been in use. There are chairs in Tutankhamen's tomb. The Romans used high-backed chairs extensively especially by women, which were called a "cathedra." Our word "cathedral" comes from this word, a cathedral being the "seat" of a bishop. Such chairs were also in use among the Greeks.

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Ancient Roman chair.

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