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Courtiers are people often in attendance at the court of a king or other royal personage. Historically the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together.


  • Kings, courtiers and nobles shall kneel before you,
    Produce of mountain and lowland they shall bring you as tribute!
    • Epic of Gilgamesh. Translated by Andrew R. George (1999)
  • The crafty courtiers with their guileful looks
    Must needs put some experience in my maw:
    • George Gascoigne, "Woodmanship", Posies (1575)
  • There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
    That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
    More pangs and fears than wars or women have.
  • Beware faire Maides of Musky Courtiers oathes,
    • William Corkine, The Second Booke of Ayres (1612)
  • The shepherd with his home-spun lass
    As many merry hours doth pass
    As courtiers with their costly girls,
    Though richly decked in gold and pearls.
    • Thomas Heywood, "Shepherds’ Song"; "Rustic Happiness",
      Pleasant Dialogues (1637)
  • The butterfly courtier, that pageant of state,
    The mouse-trap of honour and May-game of fate,
    With all his ambitions, intrigues, and his tricks,
    Must die like a clown, and then drops into Styx,
      His plots against death are too slender a fence,
      For he’ll be out of place a hundred years hence.
    • Thomas Jordan, "The Careless Gallant"
    • The Triumphs of London (1675); Choice Ayres, Songs & Dialogues, I (1675); 4o Rawl. MS. 566(109)
  • The butterfly courtier, that pageant of state,
    That mouse-trap of honour, and may-game of fate;
    For all his ambition, his freaks and his tricks,
    He must die like a bumpkin, and fall into Styx:
    His plot against death’s but a slender pretence,
    Who’d take his place from him a hundred years hence!
    • Allan Ramsay’s Tea-table Miscellany (1750)
  • Illiterate courtiers, Chancery suits for life,
    A teazing whore, and a more tedious wife;
    • Alexander Radcliffe, "As Concerning Man", The Ramble (1682)
  • The royal refugee our breed restores
    With foreign courtiers, and with foreign whores,
  • Fancy and art in gay Petronius please,
    The Scholar’s learning with the courtier’s ease.
  • The Courtiers Promises, and Sick Man’s Pray’rs,
    The Smiles of Harlots, and the Tears of Heirs,
  • I hate all Scholars, Beaus, and Squires;
    Pimps, Puppies, Parasites, and Liars.
    All Courtiers, with their Looks so smooth;
    And Players, from Boheme to Booth.
  • Our Soldiers were brave, and our Courtiers were good.
    • Henry Fielding, "The Roast Beef of Old England",
      The Grub-Street Opera (1731); Don Quixote in England (1733)
    • Richard Leveridge, "A Song in Praise of Old English Roast Beef",
      The British Musical Miscellany, III (1735)
  • Here let those reign whom pensions can incite
    To vote a patriot black, a courtier white;
  • The Priest hunts a living—the Lawyer a Fee,
    The Doctor a Patient—the Courtier a Place,
    • Paul Whitehead, "Hunting Song", Apollo and Daphne (c. 1734)
  • Here while the courtier glitters in brocade,
  • Then came a shoal in quest of posts and charges,
    Much like our ancient courtiers with their barges,
  • See how they rise at the sight,
      Thronging the Œil de Bœuf through,
    Courtiers as butterflies bright,
      Beauties that Fragonard drew,
      Talon-rouge, falbala, queue,
    Cardinal, Duke,—to a man,
      Eager to sigh or to sue,—
    This was the Pompadour’s fan!
    • Henry Austin Dobson, "On a Fan that belonged to the Marquise de Pompadour",
      Proverbs in Porcelain (1909), p. 55

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 144.
  • To laugh, to lie, to flatter to face,
    Foure waies in court to win men's grace.
  • A mere court butterfly,
    That flutters in the pageant of a monarch.
  • To shake with laughter ere the jest they hear,
    To pour at will the counterfeited tear;
    And, as their patron hints the cold or heat,
    To shake in dog-days, in December sweat.
  • At the throng'd levee bends the venal tribe:
    With fair but faithless smiles each varnish'd o'er,
    Each smooth as those that mutually deceive,
    And for their falsehood each despising each.
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