Feasts and enjoyment were essential in the medieval era when people loved to lavishly celebrate every occasion. This is what inspired medieval feasts. Medieval banquets were frequently served to people on significant feast days, such as New Year’s, weddings, and monarch coronations. There were also dinners dedicated to funerals, the arrival of the son’s knighting, harvest festivities, and tournaments. Beautiful and exquisite feasts, vivid and savory food preparation and social etiquettes dominated medieval banquets. People would have reserved feasts based on their social standing. Dive deeper with more fascinating facts about Medieval Banquets.
Significance of Medieval Banquets
Medieval dining habits determined social status during the medieval era and served as a separator between higher and lower classes. Fresh meats stuffed with various seasonings were served at the table of nobles whereas commoners had no access to such spices or foods. The meat was very scarce in the lower classes’ diets whilst the upper classes had access to pig, beef, ducks, and unusual and foreign animal meat.
However, by the end of the medieval era, the middle-class people grew affluent, and they started adapting to the approaches of the upper classes.
Serving Medieval Banquets
Serving at medieval banquets was unique and well-organized . Here is a list of things that were commonly served during medieval banquets :
- The provisions necessary for preparing food were already available in the kitchen.
- People in the medieval era used loved freshly cooked dishes that were served directly at the table.
- All the necessary utensils and requisites were already placed on the table.
- Tablecloths were placed on the dais to cover the tables.
- Guests were given assigned seats at the table.
- Buffets were organized when there was a massive gathering. These were a series of wooden plants with stepped shelves presenting delicious food.
- The nobles were served on plates of gold and silver.
- Occasionally, the food was prepared with theatrical representation.
Seating and Protocol or Custom of the Medieval Banquet
During the medieval era, the structure of society and class distinction was precisely observed .. In medieval banquets, the lower classes were frequently appointed to engage the nobles and higher ranks and this entire structure of medieval banquets and customs was controlled by the government and feudal system. Kings and queens were at the top, followed by the nobles, knights, and peasants.
Medieval Banquets Custom
- In Reign of William the Conqueror: During the reign of William, the conqueror, the royal banquets were served on the trestle table which was reserved for the king. The remarkable part of these banquets was that they were served on square-shaped stale bread plates called a trencher. Once the banquets used to end, the trenchers were gifted to the poor as alms and to honour the King, King’s food was cooked separately from other royals. The entire table used to be covered with embroidered linen tablecloths and gold and silver cutleries. Game birds, turbot, venison, and fish were common foods served at medieval banquets during the reign of William the Conqueror.
- In the Reign of Edward IV: During the reign of Edward IV, more elaborated banquets and feasts were followed. There were special servants serving the king, called servants of honour who had a higher ranking than the other servants. An individual table was reserved for the king and his chosen guests where fine wines and food were served. , Furthermore, throughout the reign of Edward IV, medieval banquets were accompanied by theatrical performances.
Medieval Banquets in France
French Medieval banquets were distinct from other medieval banquets. Many French medieval writers described medieval banquets in their books. Here is the illustrated description:
- The banquet table used to feature a centerpiece of a green lawn encircled by peacock feathers, green branches, and fragrant flowers.
- The lawn was also silver-coated.
- Many banquets used to have a cage with various live birds from throughout the world.
- The feast commenced with a hare civet, a quarter of stag left in salt overnight, a stuffed chicken, or a veal loin.
- The feast’s final two courses largely consisted of German sauce, pomegranate seeds, and sugar plums.
- At the feast, a giant pie and surmounted pies were also served.
- Generally, roe deer or a pig were prepared at most medieval banquets.
- Jelly was coloured crimson to signify the crests of the honored guests, and half-and-half was served.
- In addition, white cream, cheese, strawberries, and plums were commonly served during French feasts.
Medieval banquets and medieval parties were identical to any other type of celebration that involved eating, drinking, and enjoyment. The only thing that made it different was that it was more formal and was marked as significant events. Feasts in the Medieval Era were casual events with fewer norms and restrictions In totality, medieval banquets, and feasts served as a new mode of entertainment in medieval people’s lives.