A servant (also house-servant or valet, the nobility often personal servant ) in the conventional sense, a member of the house servants (obsolete: a Domestike ) satisfying certain domestic duties for his employer or employer.


The duties of a valet existed primarily in the personal service of the Lord; usually belonged to the presenting, cleaning and ironing of clothes, shave, haircut, manicure, as well as shopping and running errands. Sometimes led servant also the household of their master ( as " economist " ) and took over operations such as cleaning, washing and cooking, which are usually done by maid or maids and kitchen staff. All these activities were for higher standing in the social scale people as " not befitting ".

Since the times of the first early and high cultures, there has been domestic servants, who were often subordinated in the dependency ratio of slavery, but could also gain social advancement as freedmen.

A certain Familiarity or trust and compliance ceremonial, courtly etiquette have always played a major role. For house servants who had direct contact with their rule, were characteristics such as courtesy, loyalty, sincerity, discretion and subservience important. Some emperors or royal courts valet were those who had direct access to their Lord, and who knew the private life of the ruler to the smallest detail.

On larger farms, the court servants of their activities were in accordance with hierarchically arranged and organized in the " Low servants ". At their livery was recognized their rank in the hierarchy. The Low servants split into Hofdienerschaft and stable servants.


The servants in an English household was strictly hierarchically organized. At the top stood the butler approached the particular organizational tasks. The rest of the male servants were divided between the valets ( valet ) and the Footmen ( house servant).

A valet, even Gentleman's Valet, stood as a counterpart to Lady 's Maid for continuous personal disposal of a male family member. He arrived tasks such as starting and changing rooms, service to outside of meal times and personal errands.

The Footman, however, had more general tasks; he served at the table, poured drinks or taking care of guests. As he often (as opposed to " private " Valet ) took over representative tasks, it was important that he was tall, young and handsome - a larger Footman could demand more pay for his services. Footmen left the service with advancing age or rose to the butler.


The servant is also a traditional figure of the theater, especially comedy. The Commedia dell'Arte created two different types of servants: the wily schemers one hand, the naive bumpkin stood on the other hand against. In the 18th century a new type servants began to emerge: In the Italian comedy by Carlo Goldoni as The Servant of Two Masters ( 1745) and in the opera buffa, such as Leporello in Don Giovanni (1787 ) and Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro (1784 ) play the servants of the caricatured counterpart to their masters. This occurred on the eve of the French Revolution, the servants who previously appeared only as marginal figures, more and more. Himself in the thick of it

In the 19th century, however, was most common, the servant figure, now as a valet, back to their traditional function back. In the theater presented the servant as patronizing Butler the conditions on the head. Only in the 20th century made ​​Hugo von Hofmannsthal in The Untouchables (1923 ) and Bertolt Brecht in Puntila and his Man Matti (1940 ) again, the ratio of the servant to his master on the main theme.

Known servant

  • Paul Burrell (born 1958 ), servant of Elizabeth II, later the butler of Princess Diana and Prince Charles
  • Goethe's servant ( summary article)
  • Ignatius Fortuna († 1789), "Chamber Mohr " Essen Fürstäbtissinnen
  • Jost Hoen (1500-1569), servant at Count William the Rich of Nassau- Dillenburg, educators of the future Prince William of Orange
  • Georg Franz Kolschitzky (1640-1694), minister of the imperial envoys Johann Philipp Beris and spy
  • Martin lamp (1734-1806), servant Immanuel Kant
  • Heinz Linge (1913-1980), chamberlain of Adolf Hitler
  • Malchus, servant at Caiaphas, the high priest of Israel
  • Franz Anton Rosetti (1750-1792), minister and musician in the court orchestra of Prince Kraft Ernst zu Oettingen -Wallerstein, composer later