The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Audience \Au"di*ence\, n. [F. audience, L. audientia, fr. audire
to hear. See Audible, a.]
1. The act of hearing; attention to sounds.
Thou, therefore, give due audience, and attend.
2. Admittance to a hearing; a formal interview, esp. with a
sovereign or the head of a government, for conference or
the transaction of business.
According to the fair play of the world,
Let me have audience: I am sent to speak. --Shak.
3. An auditory; an assembly of hearers. Also applied by
authors to their readers.
Fit audience find, though few. --Milton.
He drew his audience upward to the sky. --Dryden.
Court of audience, or Audience court (Eng.), a court long
since disused, belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury;
also, one belonging to the Archbishop of York. --Mozley &
In general (or open) audience, publicly.
To give audience, to listen; to admit to an interview.
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
COURT OF AUDIENCE, Eng. eccl. law. The name of a court kept by the
archbishop in his palace, in which are transacted matters of form only; as
confirmation of bishops, elections, consecrations, and the like.