Mace-bearer

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A Mace-bearer, or Macebearer, is a person who carries a mace, either a real weapon or ceremonial.

Armed[edit]

When the mace was still in actual use as a weapon, it was deemed fit for close-protection, and hence a mace-bearer could be a bodyguard.

Thus in French and Dutch, a massier (armed with a masse d'armes 'weapon-mace') could be a member of a formally so-styled guard corps, as in the court of the Dukes of Brabant.

Otherwise, a normally more domestic servant could double (arming trusted household staff was not unusual) as macebearer, as in the case of the prophet Mohammed's first muezzin, Bilal ibn Ribah

Ceremonial[edit]

One of the functions of the Viscount in Jersey is to act as mace-bearer

As for ceremonial maces, which symbolise the power or status of a Monarch, institution or high dignitary, the duty to carry them in procession or other formal occasions may either be occasional and vested in an office otherwise named, or give its name to the office, either as a sinecure or in conjunction with other duties (sometimes indeed as an alternative title, as with some University Officers, e.g. at St Andrews, the Bedelis is the chief mace bearer and at Oxford the Bedels). His main day-to-day duties may be rather that of a general assistant, like say a driver's. In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, there usually is one post of mace-bearer per mace, and rarely more than one mace in use at the same time per master, or only in specific different contexts.

In French, the above-mentioned title massier is nowadays used for a mere huissier (a lowly post, door-keeper or usher) who occasionally carries a 'masse' when taking part in formal ceremonies, rather like a staff of office, as the mace is not given the same reverence as in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, indeed there may be several ones carried at the same time by staff of the same master, without any symbolism or tradition concerning the individual maces.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Larousse, Pierre (1952) Nouveau petit Larousse illustré : dictionnaire encyclopédique, Ed. spéciale réalisée pour les cinquantes ans de l'ouvrage de Claude et Paul Augé: refondue et augmentée par E. Gillon et al., Paris : Larousse, 1791 p. [encyclopaedic dictionary, in French]