What were some titles for Medieval jobs at court?

5/2/2013 • Ask Mr. History, Queen Elizabeth I

I just found your site after spending the last 3 hours trying to find the information I need. I need the names (?) of some Old Medieval Titles that are no longer used. Example: Groom of the King’s Close Stool or Keeper of the King’s Privy. Can you help me?  I know some years ago British Heritage advertised a book about these titles that were being done away with, and I didn’t buy it then, silly me now that I need it!

Thank you for all your help in this matter.


Vivienne Shay

? ? ?

Dear Ms Shay,

The thing about some comical sounding royal roles as viewed now, they were less so then. “Groom of the King’s Close Stool” apparently started with Hugh Denys, serving in role to King Henry VII until 1509, and three would serve as “Groom to the Stool” to Henry VIII. In those days, having a portable auxiliary throne close at hand anywhere in the castle was indeed a luxury reserved for a king, and the lucky chap selected for the task had an equally personal relationship with his royal client, being privy to a lot of personal confidences and having a concurrent amount of influence. The title was replaced in 1558 when Queen Elizabeth I made Kat Ashley her Lady of the Bedchamber. Renamed “Groom of the Stole” during the Victorian Era (and essentially shorn of its original significance in any case), the term did not completely disappear from the rolls until 1901.

I’m sure there were other weird titles, which might be available in the Monarchy’s official website www.royal.gov.uk, or, alternatively, in Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History

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