Food & Drink in the Tudor Times

Written by karen good
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  • Introduction

    Food & Drink in the Tudor Times

    The upper classes during Tudor times ate a rich and varied diet. The food was seasoned by a wide range of spices, and was influenced by both domestic and foreign tastes. The lower classes could not afford to eat as much meat, but enjoyed a more varied diet in times of plenty.

    Tudor royalty and their wealthy counterparts lived in well-built, fortified homes and castles. (Hever castle image by Kimprebble from

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    Meat, Fish, and Fowl

    The upper classes and nobility ate a great deal of flesh. Often, large quantities of highly seasoned meat, fish, and fowl were served in lavish banquets. The meats were served fresh or preserved by drying, smoking, pickling or salting, and provided most of the nutrition enjoyed by those who could afford it. They did not eat many vegetables or fruits. This diet was extremely high in fat and very salty, which likely contributed to health problems.

    The upper classes and Tudor royalty ate a variety of meat dishes. (dish from meat image by Sergey Goruppa from

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    Vegetables and Dairy Products

    The lower classes ate less meat, but kept vegetable gardens and raised chickens and other livestock, or purchased meat as they could afford. As a general rule, their varied diet probably made them healthier than their wealthy masters, especially as they got older.

    The lower classes during the Tudor era raised vegetables in their gardens. (vegetables image by dinostock from

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    The wealthy ate lighter bread called manchet, made of refined flours, which removed a good deal of the nutritional value. Poor people tended to eat much darker bread, called ravelled or carter's bread, which was less refined, and therefore more nutritious.

    Everyone in the Tudor era ate bread of one type or another. (Holy bread image by Gianluca Ciralli from

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    Few people in the Tudor era drank water, since it was usually badly polluted, but fermented drinks such as ale, beer, mead, cider and wine were widely available to everyone who could afford them.

    Beverages were fermented in wooden barrels during Tudor times. (Barrel image by Chad Perry from

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