Page (servant)
A page or page boy is a traditionally young male servant
Domestic worker
A domestic worker is a man, woman or child who works within the employer's household. Domestic workers perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to cleaning and household maintenance, known as housekeeping...

, a messenger
A courier is a person or a company who delivers messages, packages, and mail. Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail services by features such as speed, security, tracking, signature, specialization and individualization of express services, and swift delivery times, which are optional for...

 at the service of a nobleman or royal.

The medieval page

In medieval times
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, a page was an attendant to a knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

; an apprentice squire
The English word squire is a shortened version of the word Esquire, from the Old French , itself derived from the Late Latin , in medieval or Old English a scutifer. The Classical Latin equivalent was , "arms bearer"...

. A young boy served as a page for about seven years, running messages, 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 until he was fourteen. At age fourteen, he could graduate to become a squire
The English word squire is a shortened version of the word Esquire, from the Old French , itself derived from the Late Latin , in medieval or Old English a scutifer. The Classical Latin equivalent was , "arms bearer"...

, and by age 21, perhaps a knight himself. Similar pages served in castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

s and great house
Great house
A great house is a large and stately residence; the term encompasses different styles of dwelling in different countries. The name refers to the makeup of the household rather than to any particular architectural style...

s, fetching things and running messages for aristocrat
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

s and royalty
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

. These boys were often the scions
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

 of other great families who were sent to learn the ways of the manorial system by observation. 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
Christmas carol
A Christmas carol is a carol whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas or the winter season in general and which are traditionally sung in the period before Christmas.-History:...

 Good King Wenceslaus: "Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling..."

This type of page is almost unheard of today outside of royal residence
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

s, although the functions and status of legislative pages are a clear continuation of the earlier role.

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
A footman is a male servant, notably as domestic staff.-Word history:The name derives from the attendants who ran beside or behind the carriages of aristocrats, many of whom were chosen for their physical attributes. They ran alongside the coach to make sure it was not overturned by such obstacles...

. Unlike the hall boy
Hall boy
The hall boy or hallboy was the lowest ranked male servant on the staff of a great house. Usually a boy or young teenager, his name derived from the fact that his main duties were in the servants' hall, where he may also have slept....

s, who did heavy work, these pages performed light odd jobs and were liveried
A livery is a uniform, insignia or symbol adorning, in a non-military context, a person, an object or a vehicle that denotes a relationship between the wearer of the livery and an individual or corporate body. Often, elements of the heraldry relating to the individual or corporate body feature in...

 when the aristocrat was entertaining.

The decorative page

During and following the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 it became fashionable for black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 boys and young men to be decorative pages, placed into fancy costumes and attending fashionable ladies
The word lady is a polite term for a woman, specifically the female equivalent to, or spouse of, a lord or gentleman, and in many contexts a term for any adult woman...

 and lords. This custom lasted for several centuries and the "African page" became a staple accoutrement of baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 and rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 style. The character is frequently illustrated in literature and film, particularly period
Period piece
-Setting:In the performing arts, a period piece is a work set in a particular era. This informal term covers all countries, all periods and all genres...

  • In the Grace Kelly
    Grace Kelly
    Grace Patricia Kelly was an American actress who, in April 1956, married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, to become Princess consort of Monaco, styled as Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, and commonly referred to as Princess Grace.After embarking on an acting career in 1950, at the age of...

     film, To Catch a Thief, an undercover detective
    A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators or "private eyes"...

     wears the costume of her "African page" to a costume
    The term costume can refer to wardrobe and dress in general, or to the distinctive style of dress of a particular people, class, or period. Costume may also refer to the artistic arrangement of accessories in a picture, statue, poem, or play, appropriate to the time, place, or other circumstances...

    Ball (dance)
    A ball is a formal dance. The word 'ball' is derived from the Latin word "ballare", meaning 'to dance'; the term also derived into "bailar", which is the Spanish and Portuguese word for dance . In Catalan it is the same word, 'ball', for the dance event.Attendees wear evening attire, which is...

  • Valentine Nwanze played an "African page" attending James Graham, Marquess of Montrose in the film Rob Roy
    Rob Roy (film)
    Rob Roy is a 1995 historical drama film directed by Michael Caton-Jones. Liam Neeson stars as Robert Roy MacGregor, an 18th century Scottish historical figure who battles with feudal landowners in the Scottish Highlands. Jessica Lange, John Hurt, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz, and Jason Flemyng also star...

  • "Koko", the fictional manservant of an opera
    Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

     diva, is cast as her African page in A Nut at the Opera by Maurice Vellekoop
    Maurice Vellekoop
    Maurice Vellekoop is a Canadian artist and illustrator. His work has appeared in publications such as Drawn and Quarterly, Time, GQ, Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Wallpaper, as well as in the books ABC Book: A Homoerotic Primer, Sex Tips from a Dominatrix, Mensroom Reader and Vellevision.Vellekoop...

  • Decorative pages feature in a drawing room scene in Persuasion
    Persuasion (1995 film)
    Producer Fiona Finlay had for several years been interested in making a film based on the novel Persuasion, and approached screenwriter Nick Dear about adapting it for television...


Legislative pages

Many legislative bodies employ student pages as assistants to members of the legislature during session. Legislative pages are secondary school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

 or university
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 students who are unpaid or receive modest stipend
A stipend is a form of salary, such as for an internship or apprenticeship. It is often distinct from a wage or a salary because it does not necessarily represent payment for work performed, instead it represents a payment that enables somebody to be exempt partly or wholly from waged or salaried...

s. They serve for periods of time ranging from one week to one year, depending on the program. They typically perform small tasks such as running errands, delivering coffee, answering telephones, or assisting a speaker with visual aids. Students typically participate primarily for the educational benefit.

The following examples illustrate the range of legislative page programs:

  • The Canadian House of Commons Page Program
    Canadian House of Commons Page Program
    A House of Commons Page is a non-partisan employee of the Canadian House of Commons. They perform both ceremonial and administrative duties including:* Participation in the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons' Parade and Royal Assent...

     employs part-time first-year university students who work roughly 15 hours a week and are paid approximately $12,000 (CDN) for a one-year term. They perform both ceremonial and administrative duties and participate in enrichment activities such as meetings with MPs and government leaders. They also meet with student groups to explain the workings of the House of Commons and their duties as Pages. The Canadian Senate Page Program
    Canadian Senate Page Program
    Each year, 15 individuals are chosen from hundreds of youth through a national competition to work as a Page for the Senate of Canada. Pages are primarily responsible for assisting Senators and table officers throughout sittings of the Senate by fulfilling various requests as well as those of...

     is similar.
  • The Legislative Assembly of Ontario
    Legislative Assembly of Ontario
    The Legislative Assembly of Ontario , is the legislature of the Canadian province of Ontario, and is the second largest provincial legislature of Canada...

     employs 7th and 8th grade students for periods of two to four weeks during the legislative session. Participants must be high-achieving students who take leaves of absence from their schools while they serve as pages. Duties of pages include acting as messengers in the legislative chamber. They also have opportunities to learn about provincial government and the lawmaking process.

United States
  • Both houses of the United States Congress
    United States Congress
    The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

     have formal page programs. In both the House and Senate program
    United States Senate Page
    A United States Senate Page is a non-partisan federal employee serving the United States Senate in Washington, DC. Despite the non-partisan affiliation, Pages are typically divided to serve the party that appointed them.-Selection:In order to become a US Senate Page, one must first be nominated...

    s, pages are high school juniors from throughout the country. The application process is very competitive. Pages serve for periods of several weeks during the summer or for a full school semester during term. They live in dormitories near the Capitol and attend special schools for pages, but are always present on the Senate and House floor during session to assist the proceedings as needed.
  • In the Virginia General Assembly
    Virginia General Assembly
    The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members,...

    the pages range from young males and females 13-15. They assist Senators and Delegates with deliveries and errands.
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