Etiquette is dependent on culture; what is excellent etiquette in one society may shock another. Etiquette evolves within culture. The Dutch painter Andries Both shows that the hunt for head lice, which had been a civilized grooming occupation in the early Middle Ages, a bonding experience that reinforced the comparative rank of two people, one groomed the other, one was the subject of the groomer, had become a peasant occupation by 1630. The painter portrays the familiar operation matter-of-factly, without the disdain this subject would have received in a 19th-century representation.
facts and details
It was Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield who first used the word 'etiquette' in its modern meaning, in his Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman
By the Victorian era, etiquette had developed into an exceptionally complicated system of rules, governing everything from the proper method for writing letters and using cutlery to the minutely regulated interactions between different classes and gender.