This classic study of the life of the nobility at the royal court of France, especially under Louis XIV, has long been out of print. Recognised by historians as the benchmark for studies of early modern courts, which were an important but long neglected phase in the growth of the 'civilising' constraints imposed on people in increasingly complex networks of interdependence. Elias shows how courtiers - and finally even the king himself - were entrapped in a web of etiquette and ceremonial, how their expenses, even down to details of their houses and households, were dictated by their rank rather than their income. Includes appendix on the parallels between factional competition at the royal court and within Hitler's regime. Originally published in German in 1969 as Die hofische Gesellschaft.

Norbert Elias: biographical note
- Note on the text
- Introduction: sociology and historiography
- Preliminary notes on the problem to be studied
- The structure of dwellings as an indicator of social structure
- Characteristics of the court-aristocratic figuration
- Etiquette and ceremony: conduct and sentiment of human beings as functions of the power structure of their society
- The binding of the king through etiquette and status chances
- The sociogenesis and development of French court society as functions of power shifts in society at large
- On the sociogenesis of aristocratic romanticism in the process of courtisation. On the sociogenesis of the French Revolution
- Appendix I On the notion that there can be a state without structural conflicts: [reflections on the National Socialist state]
- Appendix II On the position of the intendant in the estate management of the court aristocracy, with particular reference to the economic ethos of the court aristocracy
- Bibliography
- Index.