The Tudors

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As a self-professed ‘foodie’ that has a thirst for historical knowledge, the evolution in our dining table has always fascinated me.

Throughout this combination of blogs, I will be delving in to the best and worst in our culinary past, trying to find historical recipes, as well as the eating habits of energy gone by; through the gorging banquet halls of Henry VIII to your famine from the French Revolution.

Come by himself as I demand on an edible journey over the years, going through the customs and traditions with the day.

The Tudor Period

We are beginning our Time Series using the Tudor period; or specifically the reign of Henry VIII.


We are common familiar with possibly the most famous monarch in the past. His reign saw England break faraway from Rome, the of Parliament, the foundations for modern-day Royal Mail not to mention, his six wives.

But what happened towards the English palette inside the 36 years Henry VIII ruled?

When Henry succeeded his brother to your throne in 1509, he inherited a country united behind the monarchy, stable finances, and the brother’s wife.

Fruit was obviously a constant feature using a Tudor table, with choices which range from those that might be grown in England like apples, pears, cherries, plums, and strawberries to the ones that were imported from Spain following arrival of Queen Katherine of Aragon.

The pomegranate had become the symbol of her house, and she or he was instrumental from the popularity of oranges at court. Records reveal that Henry for example loved oranges; getting them to readily available to nibble on fresh and preserved as marmalade.

Orchards were grown at Hampton Court by Cardinal Wolsey with the consumption from the King.

English food might not have appealed towards the new Spanish queen, who does have been utilized to Mediterranean tastes and cuisine, heavily depending the Moorish community in addition to their use of exotic spices and vegetables.

On my hunt for recipes out of this time, I have run into this one from 15th Century Andalusia; the autonomous community of southern Spain near to Katherine’s native Granada.

Recipe for Thumlyya, A Garlicky Dish

A 15th Century Andalusian Recipe

Taken from ‘How to Milk An Almond, Stuff An Egg And Armour A Turnip: A Thousand Years Of Recipes’

by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook


5 oz garlic 1 t ginger

1 hen ¼ t cloves

6 T oil 15 thread saffron

½ t salt ½ c whole almonds

½ t pepper ? c crushed almond

1 t cinnamon ¼ c murri

2 t lavender -1 c flour – water

‘Take a plump hen and remove what is inside, clean can leave aside. Then take four uquias (ounces) of peeled garlic and pound them until they can be like brains, and mix using what comes out in the interior from the chicken. Fry it in enough oil to pay, till the smell of garlic arrives. Mix this while using chicken in the clean pot with salt, pepper, cinnamon, lavender, ginger, cloves, saffron, peeled whole almonds, both pounded and whole, and also a little murri (there is no modern recipe for murri, that is similar towards the Chinese soy sauce). Seal the pot with dough, place it within the oven by leaving until it is done. Then take it out and open the pot, pour its contents in a very clean dish with an aromatic scent can come forth from this and perfume the spot.’

As Henry’s reign progressed, his well-documented affair with Anne Boleyn began. Anne spent lots of her youth within the French Court, first accompanying Henry’s 18-year-old sister Margaret on her behalf journey to France to marry King Louis XII.

Henry and Anne’s affair lasted seven years before his infamous break away from your Catholic Church of Rome in addition to their eventual marriage. Her French influences can have played a tremendous part from the changing tastes and customs of Court.

In the 15th century, bread and cheese were commonplace in French cuisine, with meats and fruits considered fit for royalty, and vegetables described as peasant food.

Pears stewed in wine were often eaten for an ‘ending’ into a meal, which may are actually adopted through the English after Anne Boleyn became Queen.

A Day In The Life Of Henry VIII’s Stomach

Henry would often start his day with Pike, Plaice, Roach, Butter and Eggs choosing to consume with 30 of his courtiers around 10am

Henry would then have experienced the choice of no less than 13 freshly cooked dishes at each lunch and supper, choosing from a huge range of pies, meats, pottages, jellies and fritters all cooked by his personal chef Pero Doux.

One essential towards the Tudor kitchen was the spit roast meats. Pork, Mutton, Venison – they can be about the spit day in and time out, willing to serve the King and the Court.

More unusual meats were available banquets and occasions for example swan, peacock, heron and deer.

Despite his ever-increasing stomach, Henry and England adhered towards the strict rule of fasting on Fridays and Saturdays and often Wednesdays which prohibited the eating of meat and were only allowed you can eat fish. During the period of Lent (2nd March – 14th April) butter, eggs and dairy were also forbidden.

To disobey the rule of fasting ended up being to risk an accusation of heresy, however, fasting didn’t mean that Henry ate any a lot less than usual.

Any other day was considered a ‘flesh day’. Below is undoubtedly an example of what Henry would’ve expected to see available.








Cheat Bread and Manchett, 16 Cheat Bread and Manchett, 16

Beate and Ale, 6 Gal Beate and Ale, 6 Gal

Wyne Wyne

Fleth for Pottage 8 Fleth for Pottage 8

Chines of Beef 8 Chickens in Crimary, Larkes

Rammeners in Stew, or Cap 6 Sparrows or Lambe,

Venison in brewz or mult 4 stewed with chynes of 13

Pestels of Reed Deere 2 Mutton

Mutton 6 Giggots of Mutton or Veni-

Carpes or Yong Veale in – -son, stopped with Cloves 6

Arm’, forced 1 Capons 4

Swanne 1 Conyes 2

Capons 2 Phesant, Herne, Shove-

Conyes 1 -lard 4

Fryanders, baked Carpe 1 Cocks, Plovers or Gulles 2

Custard garnished 12 Swete Dowcetts or Orange 10

or frittars 8 Quinces or Pippns 2

Along with recognisable options, the Tudors enjoyed many delicacies that will raise an eyebrow or two nowadays.

Grilled Beavers tail could well be served most Fridays since the Tudors classed Beaver like a fish. Whale and porpoise were boiled or roasted and were a popular of Katherine of Aragon.

From Fast To Peasant

When the King along with the people of Court were gouging while on an immeasurable quantity of calories, the poorer people of England stood a much simpler menu.

Meat was scarce for your everyday Tudor peasant and so more vegetables, bread, and ales were the staple. Pottage pops up throughout history in lots of varieties, with all the meatier stew even being served for the King.

The basic vegetable and oat Pottage would have already been a regular sight in the dinner table for the people not at court. Similar to our modern-day stews, the recipe is not hard and easy to adhere to.



½ Onion

Vegetables (whichever that suits you – carrot, parsnip, cabbage, leek etc)

300ml stock (or perhaps warm water to the average peasant)

Herbs (for instance parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme and sage which were easily accessible)

1tsp pepper

4tbsp porridge oats

Bread (optional)


Prepare vegetables (peel and chop to whatever thickness you enjoy).

Soften onions in a very pan before adding other vegetables.

Cover with stock or tepid to warm water until realize soften.

Add a fantastic handful of herbs, salt and pepper.

Turn within the heat by leaving to stew.

When the lake begins to boil add the oats. Cook for 4-5 minutes till all things are combined.

Eat by itself or with bread.

Six Wives

Finishing our Tudor journey, I am going to be focusing on possibly the most famous aspect of Henry VIII’s reign – his wives.