Just a really quick post of something I forgot to mention earlier. All my learning about the history of the Hapsburgs and the formalities of the court and various hierarchies of propriety has really struck me - how often we seek to better our own positions with thoughts gaining disctinction through a better reputation or riches! I know I am certianly guilty of such thoughts at times.
Anyway, there is a movie that shows this kind of man-made hierarchy very well. It's called Gosford Park (released in 2001), and it is set in the early 1930s. The whole movie is fantastic but there is a particularly memorable scene where as the lords and ladies sit down to their dinner party on the upper level of the manor, the maids and servants sit down also to their dinner on the lower levels. And no where is the seating arrangement so important as the servants' quarters - everyone must sit according to the level of distinction of their master or mistress. This kind of forceful reminder of one's position at the table (and hence society) has nothing to do with economic class but the much more important idea of 'nobility'. The movie goes on to portray the devastation that such ideas of proper place can have on people's lives.
Definitely a movie to rent out if you haven't yet seen it and have some time over the Christmas break!