I am writing historical fiction, so pretty good with research. But I am stumped by the use of Monsieur. I realize it was used by royalty referring to the brother of a king. However now it is used as a title for French-speaking gentlemen.

What I cannot find is what title was used for a gentleman prior to its modern general use?

I appreciate any assistance as I cannot find an answer anywhere online.

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    Welcome to French Language Stack Exchange! Please take the tour and visit the Help Centre at some point, and we hope you continue to ask questions. Unfortunately, I can't answer this particular one, but there are a few other editors who very likely can. :)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Jun 21, 2017 at 18:05
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    When is your writing set? “Prior to its modern general use” is not a precise time period. And where? French is more unified today than it used to be. Jun 22, 2017 at 8:44
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    That's a really limited view. 'Monsieur' by itself was used for Louis XIV's brother. But that was because he was the most important of his contemporaries, not because that was a title used for all of a king's brothers, or that he initiated it in any way. Monsieur So-and-so was a common title for general nobility, used for centuries before. It'd be helpful if you'd give us a century for your fiction?
    – user13512
    Jun 22, 2017 at 18:26
  • Years too late in a response but I am also writing a historical fiction novel in 16th century France and could not find a definitive answer regarding titles of non-aristocracy. I guess that I will use "sir (sieur)" as you did!
    – Randall
    Mar 19 at 1:26

2 Answers 2


In the Middle-Ages a man of certain importance was addressed as Monsor. The word started being spelt Monsieur in the 16th century.

Monsor - Monsieur is the contraction of Mon - Sieur (My Lord).

Sieur continued being used in front of a man's name, without an initial capital in legal writings. At that time when used in a novel, it gave an ironical or derogatory tone.

  • I certainly appreciate you quick response! Merci. I believe all it could be is Sieur. It is all I can find. Can you tell me if Sieur capitalized when used BEFORE a gentleman's name Such as Sier Daniel Boyd Or should it be sier Daniel Boyd Every translator gives me something different. Vee
    – Vee
    Jun 21, 2017 at 18:30

En référence à la célèbre scène du réveil du film "La folie des grandeurs", je propose Monseigneur (prononcé monseignor dans l'extrait pour la rime).

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