Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tudor Etiquette and Henry VII

Dining with Henry VIII ~ If you were wealthy, your cakes would be decorated with marzipan, and after dinner there would be nuts, thin and delicate wafers, and sweets made with aniseed and ginger to help digestion.

In the days of Henry VIII., the ways of society differed from our own more in observance than in spirit. Though the gay world danced and gambled very late, they rose very early. Their conversation was coarse and lacked reserve. The ladies cursed freely. Outward show and ceremony were considered of the utmost importance. Hats were worn by the men in church and at meals, and only removed in the presence of the King and Cardinal.

Kissing was far more prevalent as a mode of salutation. The Court society spent the greater part of their income on clothes. To those in the King's set, a thousand pounds was nothing out of the way to spend on a suit of clothes.

The predominant colours at Court were crimson and green; the Tudor colours were green and white. It was an age of magnificent plate, and the possession and display of masses of gold and silver plate was considered as a sign of power. Later on in Shakespeare's time, not only the Nobles, but also the better class citizens boasted collections of plate.

A quaint instance of the recognition of distinctions of rank is afforded by certain “Ordinances” that went forth as the “Bouche of Court.” Thus a Duke or Duchess was allowed in the morning one chet loaf, one manchet and a gallon of ale; in the afternoon one manchet and one gallon of ale; and for after supper one chet loaf, one manchet, one gallon of ale and a pitcher of wine, besides torches, etc.

A Countess, however, was allowed nothing at all after supper, and a gentleman usher had no allowance for morning or afternoon. These class distinctions must have weighed heavily upon humbler beings, such as Countesses; but perhaps they consumed more at table to make up for these after−meal deficiencies.

Table manners were a luxury as yet undreamed of. The use of the fork was a new fashion just being introduced from France and Spain. — Herbert Beerbohm Tree , 1911



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