droit de seigneur


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droit de seigneur

The supposed right of a nobleman to deflower the bride of any of his serfs on their wedding night. The phrase, which translates as “the lord's right” was also known as “the law / right of the first night.” Despite its widespread appearance in popular culture, reports of the “right” having been exercised are very rare. It was more a representation for or a warning about the power that a feudal lord could exert over his tenants. Mozart's opera, The Marriage of Figaro, involves Count Almaviva's efforts to exercise his right with Figaro's bride, Susanna. The phrase survives as a seldom-used metaphor for unlimited authority over another, such as a boss over an employee, notwithstanding the gender of either party.
See also: DE
References in periodicals archive ?
But he also added a few exotic embellishments to his droit de seigneur.
While early sources note the droit de seigneur of ranking chiefs and their sons to pluck the maindenheads of ordinary girls, there is no evidence from genealogy, oral tradition or ethnology that sexual relations between ali'i or manaia and ordinary women, or children fathered on them from such unions, elevated the rank, standing or wealth of their family.
Her particular boss sees the typing pool very much as a mediaeval overlord saw the virgins in one of his villages: it was his right, his droit de seigneur, to bed the bride-to-be before the prospective husband.
But now, thanks to this case we have Saddam Hussein, the bad boy in the playground, jeering and whooping over in Iraq, not to mention the other Arab leaders who are greatly enjoying Clinton's discomfort even though their promiscuity is just as wanton and may even involve exercising a droit de seigneur over women whose refusal to co-operate would be seen as treason.
The sheer power of television means that its practitioners have become the new aristocracy, and I shudder whenever I see that patronage being abused, in a latter-day version of the old droit de seigneur.
But Mr George Sandes soon became extremely unpopular because he was evicting people and practising droit de seigneur - the right to take a tenant's bride on her first night of marriage.
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