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Page (servant): Wikis

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A group of legislative pages at the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto, circa 1893.

A page or page boy is a traditionally young male servant, sometimes also called a bowitt.

Contents

The medieval page

In medieval times, a page was an attendant to a knight; an apprentice squire. A young boy served as a page for seven years, serving, cleaning, and even learning the basics of combat, and the lord he was working for would usually treat him fairly. The lord sometimes gave the page private combat training from the age of seven (after starting cutting hair) until he was fourteen. At age fourteen, he could graduate to become a squire, and by age 21, perhaps a knight himself. Similar pages served in castles, and great houses fetching things and running messages for aristocrats and royalty. These boys were often the scions of other great families who were learning the ropes of the manorial system by watching and learning. Their residence in the house served as a goodwill gesture between the two families involved and helped them gain political contacts for their adult lives. A reference to this kind of page is found in the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslaus: "Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling...."

The modern household page

Boys of humble background might also gain a similar place in a great house. According to the International Butler Academy, these pages were apprentice footmen. Unlike the hall boys, who did heavy work, these pages performed light odd jobs and were liveried when the aristocrat was entertaining.

The decorative page

During and following the Renaissance it became fashionable for black boys and young men to be decorative pages, placed into fancy costumes and attending fashionable ladies and lords. This custom lasted for several centuries and the "African page" became a staple accoutrement of baroque and rococo style. The character is frequently illustrated in literature and film, particularly periodwork:

Legislative pages

Many legislative bodies uses pages as assistants to members of the legislature during session. They mainly perform small tasks such as running errands, delivering coffee or assisting a speaker with visual aids.

For example, in the United States:

  • In the Virginia General Assembly the pages range from young males and females 13-15. They assist Senators and Delegates with delivering and errands.
  • In the United States Congress, pages are high school juniors. The application process is very competitive. They are always present on the Senate and House floor during session to assist the proceedings as needed.

See also

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Simple English

A page or page boy is a young male servant. A different meaning of "page boy", but based on the same idea of one who serves, is for a young boy who helps the bride at a wedding.

History

In medieval times, a page was a servant to a knight. He had to clean things, help the knight, for example by running messages for him. He also learned how to fight. When he was 14 he usually became a squire. When he was 21 he sometimes became a knight.

Pages were treated well. In the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas" we hear about the King's page: "Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling...."

The decorative page

During the Renaissance and after it became fashionable for black boys and young men to be decorative pages. They wore fancy costumes and served fashionable ladies and lords. This custom of having an "African page" lasted for several centuries. This type of page is almost unheard of today.


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