This chapter summarizes the preceding discussions and presents some concluding thoughts from the author. The book showed the value of approaching 16th- and 17th-century ‘good manners’ as coherent social codes which reveal much about the changing self-image and social strategies of what remained a largely aristocratic dominant culture. It shows the rich possibilities as well as the problems involved in using the evidence of literary sources as guides to living codes of social conduct and their cultural context. For all their unclear relationship to practice in society at large, these sources can be used both to excavate the overall character of the values of ‘courtesy’ and ‘civility’ and the ambiguity and complexity of the social meanings involved in the perception of good and bad manners.
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