What did people in the Tudor period eat?

As part of our 'History Extra explains' series, leading historians answer the burning questions you were too afraid to ask...

What did people in the Tudor period eat?

Rank, station, and even religious customs affected what you ate throughout the Tudor period.

Meat was forbidden on a Friday, when people ate fish instead. However, Henry VIII tended to be flexible, and often included certain meats, declaring them to be ‘fish’.

Certainly the Tudors ate a wider variety of meat than we do today, including swan, peacock, beaver, ox, venison, and wild boar. They did not eat raw vegetables or fruit, believing them to be harmful. Water, especially in cities like London, was polluted, and wealthier individuals drank wine. Everybody drank diluted ale and small beer.

Bread was an important staple of the Tudor diet; the most expensive was manchet bread, which was eaten only by the wealthy.

Lauren Mackay is the author of Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and his Six Wives through the Life and Writings of the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys (Amberley Publishing). 

For more burning historical Q&As on the Tudors, ancient Rome, the First World War and ancient Egypt, click here.
 

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