Valet de chambre
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Valet de chambre, or varlet de chambre, was a court appointment introduced in the late Middle Ages, common from the 14th century onwards. Royal Households had many persons appointed at any time. While some valets simply waited on the patron, or looked after his clothes and other personal needs, itself potentially a powerful and lucrative position, others had more specialized functions. At the most prestigious level it could be akin to a monarch or ruler's personal secretary, as was the case of Anne de Montmorency at the court of Francis I of France. For noblemen pursuing a career as courtiers, like Étienne de Vesc, it was a common early step on the ladder to higher offices.
For some this brought entry into the lucrative court business of asking for favours on behalf of clients, and passing messages to the monarch or lord heading the court. Valets might supply specialized services of various kinds to the patron, as artists, musicians, poets, scholars, librarians, doctors or apothecaries and curators of collections. Valets compromised a mixture of nobles hoping to rise in their career, and those—often of humble origin—whose specialized abilities the monarch wanted to use or reward.