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Échanson

See under Cupbearer.

Designation (also Hofschenk) for the function at manorial courts or noble houses for the preparation and tasting of beverages, especially wine. Due to the constant (and often justified) fear of intrigues and attempts to poison the people, this responsibility was mostly assigned to noble persons in whom the sovereign placed his full trust. Already in the Bible in the 1st book of Moses (Genesis) a cupbearer of Pharaoh is mentioned. At the court of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) Iolaos (son of the general Antipatros) was among others active as cupbearer. According to a hypothesis that is no longer considered credible today, he is said to have poisoned Alexander on behalf of his father. In the Middle Ages, the Bouteiller was responsible for the cellar and the drinks at the princely courts (Latin Buticularius or Pincerna, English butler). The Échanson (waiter) was responsible for tasting the drinks before drinking...

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