Where and How to Kiss The King's Feet Based on Thy Status at Court and How Filthy Thy Peasant Lips Are
Don’t show up at Court unprepared.
Kissing The Royal Foote is an honour bestowed not upon any ordinary subject of the Crowne. Indeed, prostrating oneself before The King and kissing His Feet in an act of self-abasement is amongst the noblest acts one can experience.
Those loyal subjects whomst regularly submit themselves before His Majesty know precisely where and how to lay their lips based on their rank, status at court, and whether or not they have disgusting peasant lips which shall ne’er dare touch the Toes of the Vaunted Personage.
Herein be instructions on The Kissing of The Feet, with the obvious caveat that no filthy peasant lips are allowed to so touch.
Dukes. One light kiss upon each Toe, going from large to small, with a three-second pause in between to savor the phalangeal sweetness of each.
People Named Geoff. Those fellows whomst go by the name of Geoff receive a perhaps surprisingly honourable kissing location on The Foote, considering they possess no other qualifications other than their name. Such is His Majesty’s wish. Kissing form ist expected to be firm but tender, whilst whispering “Geoff” just loud enough that His Majesty can faintly hear it.
Geoff-Adjacent. Even more surprising than People Named Geoff is the Foote locale reserved for Geoff-adjacents such as Geoffrey’s, Gefferies, Jeffrey’s, Josfridus’s, Joffery’s, Goffeferies, Heffery’s, and Jeffs. Kiss and hold for one Geoff-breath then release.
Queen Zone. This zone ist reserved solely for Her Majesty The Queen. The specifics of its execution are a private matter.
Lesser Kings. Kiss for four seconds then be executed for being so bolde as to bear the title of “king.”
Princes and Above. Gentle smooch with light tongue action from left to right.
Monks. Douse thy lips in holy water and with them make the sign of the cross on His Majesty’s Midfoote.
Spice Merchants. Travel far across the seas to the East, encountering many perils on thy voyage. Return to His Majesty’s Court with a trove of rare and precious spices, and place at least fifteen percent of thy haul in oaken chests on his left. Once the Royal Spicemaster hath inspected them and accepted thy spice offering, kiss the inner edge of The King’s Foote. Be sure to remove any particularly pungent spices from thy lips beforehand.
Knights (with nice lips). Moisten thine lips with tears of subservience, then deliver one peck for Honour, and another for Victory.
Knights (with gross lips). Prostrate thineself on the floor and deliver an air kiss, but keep those gross smackers at least a fingerslength from The Foote.
Wood Elves. Ally thine Elven army to The King and serve bravely by His Side in the Battle of Antwoode, and mayhaps thou shalt earn the privilege of kissing His Foote.
Miscellaneous Courtiers. Kiss The King’s Foote, then His Ring, then His Foote again, then again His Ring. Continue with Foote → Ring → Foote → Ring → Foote → Ring until the whole ceremony just sort of ends and ‘tis tyme to return to fawning from a distance.
Morally Compromised Wizards. Morally compromised in the sense that they hath made a compromise with The King to only use magick at His behest, which is always moral. Kiss the outer edge of The Foote and include a faint tickling spell which makes The King giggle.
Dwarves. Technique dothn’t matter. Just clean thy lips first.
Peasant Zone. Bring not thy disgusting lips near the Royal Personage, lest thou soils it with thy poorness.
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Addendum: Kissing The King’s Feet
Picture it: A party of Vikings stands across from the king of West Francia. They’ve been battling each other for years, the Vikings raiding Frankish lands and causing massive destruction, the Franks managing to hold them off and occasionally defeating them in battle, as they just had at Chartres in the months prior.
Now, they’ve come to settle a truce.
The Viking leader is Rollo, a feared warrior who had been raiding the lands of the Franks for decades. The king of West Francia is Charles the Simple1, a descendant of Charlemagne. Their deal will lead to the creation of what will become one of the most powerful forces of the Middle Ages: the Normans.
Among the terms of the truce, are:
Charles will give Normandy and Brittany to Rollo, in exchange for Rollo’s loyalty to West Francia, and military support against other Vikings;
Rollo will marry Charles’s daughter, Gisela;
The Vikings will convert to Christianity.
Once both parties agree to the terms, Rollo is baptized into Christianity and adopts the name Robert. To seal the deal, one of the king’s men suggests, Rollo must kiss the king’s foot. To which Rollo replies:
I will never kneel before the knees of another, nor will I kiss anyone's foot.
Instead, he orders one of his warriors to kiss the king’s foot in his place. The warrior complies, but:
The warrior, at once laying hold of the king's foot, has brought it to his own mouth and has planted a kiss on it while standing upright, and has caused the king to topple backwards. And so great laughter and great uproar is occasioned among the people.
Rather than bend over to kiss the king’s feet, the warrior had grabbed his foot and brought it up to his mouth, flipping the king onto his back! Everyone present erupts in laughter, and the deal is sealed.2
The practice of kissing the feet of kings, popes, and other powerful leaders — according to the book Medieval Bodies by Jack Hartnell — goes back at least to the 8th century, when Pope Adrian I required Charlemagne to kiss his feet as a sign of allegiance. It was a gesture of fealty and respect, practiced at least from Western Europe to Constantinople throughout the Middle Ages (Arab rulers apparently were less keen on it).
The Byzantine court had especially elaborate kissing rituals that varied depending on one’s rank and status. There is even a book that recorded the complex social etiquette involved in kissing various parts of the emperor’s body.
The Genoese, for example, who “appear particularly cordial and perhaps somewhat toadying to the emperor”:
If the leader of the Genoese also happens to be at the place where the Emperor is, he too enters and with his companions kisses the Emperor in the manner of the court title holders, as was indicated, namely his foot, his hand, and his cheek . . .
The Venetians, however, who the Emperor did not trust, were not allowed to touch his foot at all:
As for the Venetians, since the Emperor had wanted to make war with them . . . when their leader comes, on the first day and he is to perform proskynesis, both he and his companions kneel only, they do not kiss the Emperor’s foot at all.
And, finally, here’s Netherlandish author Willem Jordaens describing how one should mentally throw oneself on the floor before Jesus:
Prostrate yourself at his feet. Moisten the left foot of truth with your tears and lament . . . Dry this foot with your hair, that is, with sorrow and dissatisfaction over your life. Kiss it with your mouth, that is, yearn with inner desire to lead your life in accordance with the rules of truth . . . You must then moisten the right foot of God’s mercy with inner, loving tears, so as to receive his grace and a sweet desire to live according to truth . . . Look, my poor soul, you should kiss these two feet of our Lord with humble loving desire, and you should never kiss one without the other.3
It’s hard to imagine how such a practice has fallen out of fashion.
His sobriquet “the Simple” is apparently misleading, as it was originally meant to indicate straightforwardness rather than stupidity. Although, according to Wikipedia, he has also gone by the nicknames Fatuous, Stupid, Foolish, Small, and Inferior.
This story is recounted in Dudo of St. Quentin, History of the Normans, which was written between 996 and 1015 AD. You can read a translation by Felice Lifshitz online here: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/dudu-stquentin-gesta-trans-lifshitz.asp
All three quotes are from Medieval Bodies, Life and Death in the Middle Ages, by Jack Hartnell, which is a wonderful book.