Saturday, September 5, 2015

British Royal Etiquette History and Dining


Feast at Court of King Richard II Called for Vast Amount of Food

England in the Canterbury days ate much in the French style. Spoons and fingers were good manners and carving was new-fangled. If it was, in fact, practiced to any extent at all. 

Richard II and the Duke of Lancaster once dined in London with the Bishop of Durham. The King, the Duke and the Bishop and their retinues and guests called for 120 sheep, 14 salted oxen and 2 fresh, 1,240 pigs, 12 boars, 210 geese, 720 hens, 50 capons "of hie geze" and eight dozen other capons, 50 swans and 100 dozen pigeons; rabbits and curlews by the score, 11,000 eggs, 12 gallons of cream and 120 gallons of milk.
The usual forms of address for a King for much of the "Plantagenet era" in England were ‘your highness’ and ‘your Grace’. Richard II introduced the terms ‘your majesty’ and ‘your high majesty’ to the court vocabulary, having had a grander and more elaborate vision of kingship than his predecessors.
During the King's later reign, there are accounts of Richard II sitting in splendor on his throne after dinner, while glaring around the room at the courtiers assembled there. It is said that, whomever his gaze rested upon was to fall to their knees in humble appreciation of his royal awesomeness. Eventually wearing thin, in 1399 Richard was deposed by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, who took the throne as Henry IV, which abruptly ended an unbroken succession of Plantagenet kings since the 12th century.
Such was a royal feast, says the Detroit News, and every day, whether fast day or eating day, had four meals. Breakfast at seven, dinner at ten in the morning, supper at four and livery at eight. The hour of dinner is said to show the development of cooking in any given country. But there were Chaucerian refinements, nevertheless, aside from dishes of flowers; permissible foods imitating the form of meats on fast days, hen eggs being counterfeited and clever things such as making two capons out of one by skinning it and stuffing the skin. 

There were, besides, the points of etiquette; a pig for a lord should be endored. His cabbage thickened with egg, not crumbs; a pike served whole to a Lord, but cut for the commonality. And mint sauce has a pedigree reaching to Edward I. – From Detroit News as reprinted in Sausalito News, 1924

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