I am running a game of En Garde over on the RPG Stack Exchange. For purposes of verisimilitude, we're wondering about station-specific greetings in Paris in the 1630's. What would be an appropriate greeting between two low-class males with aspirations of climbing the social ladder? What would be a greeting from a low-class to a high-class (but non-titled) male? And what would be a greeting between two high-class gentlemen?

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    You'll need to be more specific about class, and how in the hell they think they're capable of changing their class position (1nd estate priests from bourgeois with a unique administrative capacity, noblesse de graduelle? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… ). The wikipage seems to help. Also, Dangerous Liasons. Or do you mean gutter snipes attempting to get an apprenticeship and thus possibly become Masters by marriage? Feb 13 '13 at 5:07
  • Well, in this fictive setting, mainly by attaining glory in the army. The fact of absurd social mobility is the essence of the game, and the intent of the question is to add appropriate set dressing to it. But this ranges from the bastard son of a labourer to the first son of one of the titled nobility. Feb 13 '13 at 5:09
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    There's a listing at the encyclopaedia, above. This encyclopaedia page probably fills the needs for RPG fidelity to actual history. Louis XIII didn't have as much power as Louis XIV, but military success, combined with "discovered" genealogy records could advance people as fast as required—if causing grief amongst the old nobility. The systems and hierarchies of nobility developed in opposition to the centralising power of Louis XIV and in part in relation to the attempt of Louis XIV to control the nobility. So atypical and absurd advancement is fine—if it generates suitable conflicts. Feb 13 '13 at 9:50

In general, a commoner would address a gentleman as "Monsieur" and a lady as "Madame". Among nobility the practice would be the same, although the king is addressed as "sire". If a person was a servant of someone else they may use a special term of subservience. For example, in the play Le Cid (1637) by Corneille, when the page addresses his mistress he begins

Par vos commandements,... etc

"By your command". This is because the page is the servant of the person being addressed. In the same play when Don Rodrigo addresses the Count, he says,

A moi, Comte, deux mots.

To me, count, two words. In other words "come to me, lets have a word or two". Don Rodrigo is below the count in status, but the two are close friends and well known to each other, so Don Rodrigo is informal.

In plays like "La Veuve" which takes place in Paris and is dated to 1632, the servants and workers are always addressed by their occupation ("nurse", "coachman", etc) and the gentlefolk as either "Monsieur" or "Madame".

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