[Sca-cooks] Henry VIII diet

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sun Aug 16 07:29:11 PDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stefan li Rous" <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com>
To: <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
Sent: Saturday, August 15, 2009 10:22 PM
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Henry VIII diet

> From the Lochac list.
> <<<
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbgcDxAQSgQ is someone buying what
> Henry VIII ate in a week.
> I am not sure the alcohol level is right as I suspect both the ale and
> the red wine were not very alcoholic.

Ale and wine are produced through simple fermentation, so the alcohol 
content will be similar to what is produced today.  I suspect the ale was 
around six percent and the wine a little higher.  The wine would probably 
have been watered and shared with his cronies, but that is speculation.  10 
pints of ale (as they estimate) would have been 1.25 gallons (U.S. gallons, 
Imperial measure was still 300 years away).  Based on a couple of studies 
I've encountered, the daily per capita intake of in consumption spirits was 
a gallon of beer or wine depending on the area examined.  Henry, being 
royalty, would have been able to be above average.  Ale and wine were an 
important source of nutrients in the period diet and represent a quarter to 
a third of the daily caloric intake.  There was probably also an analgesic 
effect, not to be sneezed at in the days before painkillers.

The same studies place the daily intake of grain at the equivalent of two 
pounds of bread per day, although they didn't provide an estimate of his 
bread consumption.

> They don't say how they worked out what he ate, as in whether the info
> they have is extrapolated from one instance or if there are records of
> what was eaten in a week generally.

I suspect they are working from privy purse records as to what was sent to 
Henry's table.  They don't specify how much he ate of what he ordered.  They 
estimate he ate about 5,000 calories a day (seems to me that's about 3 half 
pound burgers, supersized with fries and soft drink), suitable for the young 
Henry, but not very good for the more sedentary Henry.

> On the other hand, it's clear from what gets served at SCA feasts that
> "no vegetables" is true! >>>
> I think the alcohol amount is correct, in part because I think the 
> average alcohol level in the beverages was lower.
> I'm not sure the comments on vegetables is correct. I wish I knew  which 
> records were used to construct this video.
> Comments?
> Stefan

IIRC, Henry was a noted carnivore and didn't much care for his veggies, but 
I would need to check.

Since, the authors of the video don't provide bibliographic information, one 
would need to run down available sources and see which meet the criteria.


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