How polite we’ve got

463px-Charles_VIII_Ecole_Francaise_16th_century_Musee_de_Conde_Chantilly

Diplomats can be pretty rude behind the scenes, we know that from Wikileaks, but perhaps not quite so cheeky as the Italian ambassador Zaccaria Continarini describing Charles VIII of France in 1492:

The Majesty of the King of France is twenty-two years of age, small and badly formed in his person, ugly of face, with eyes great and white and much more apt to see too little than enough, an acquiline nose, much larger and fatter than it ought to be, also fat lips, which he continually holds open, and he is slow in speech.  According to my opinion, which could be quite wrong, I hold certainly that he is not worth very much either in body or in natural capacity

(Nice to see that diplomatic touch  –  I could be quite wrong. Rather on the lines of You might think that, I couldn’t possibly say that.)

Quoted in Andrew Pettegree’s  The Invention of News (Yale University Press, 2014) p100

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_VIII_Ecole_Francaise_16th_century_Musee_de_Conde_Chantilly.jpg

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