King Henry VIII and Fine Dining

King Henry VIII and Fine Dining

Visit Daniel Diehl On Readers Gazette

Research for my historical novel, Nothing Left Sacred, a look at England's King Henry VIII and his violent, oppressive war with the Roman Catholic Church, prompted a lot of research into life in the late Middle Ages and, this being Henry VIII, a lot of that research had to do with food. fortunately, I had already co-authored a book on the subject entitled Medieval Celebrations (Stackpole Books) and that information brought provided an insight into the subject closest to the hearts of people at all times, fine dining.

If you know only one or two things about England’s fat king beyond the facts that he had six wives and had two of them beheaded, it is probably that he was a monstrously fat pig. Nobody porks up to 450 pounds without doing some serious table time. And while Henry must have eaten almost constantly, the popular image of medieval table manners is far from the truth. Popular myth, heavily influenced by Hollywood, often envisions medieval feasts as debauched bacchanalias where bones were thrown on the floor to be eaten by the dogs and drunken brawls were an expected part of the evening’s entertainment. Little could be farther from the truth. Medieval society demanded strict adherence to codes of chivalry in war and peace, to showing absolute respect toward women, and to the proper observation of religious duties at all times - not a social structure likely to sanction drunken orgies at the dinner table. Medieval table manners, if not as complex and rigid as those of the Victorians, were certainly more tightly structured and demanding than our own.

Medieval Banquets

That being said, the variety and elaborateness of the dishes served at medieval banquets were limited only by the wealth of the host and the creative talents of the kitchen staff. At major feasts, every effort was made to provide the broadest and most interesting variety of dishes that the season and the host’s pocketbook would allow. Holiday menus, even in midsize manor houses and small castles, could be astonishing in both abundance and complexity. Four or five courses, called removes, each containing ten to sixteen dishes, were not uncommon. When Henry IV was crowned king of England in 1399, his coronation banquet must have been impressive, even for its time. The entire meal was dutifully recorded by Jean de Froissart in his Chronicles.

First Remove:
Meat in pepper sauce, Viaund Ryal [a crustless cheese and ale quiche], Boar’s head and tusks [mostly as a decoration for high table], Grand Chare [a meat dish], Cygnets [baby swan], Fat Capon [a type of chicken], Pheasant, Heron, Lombardy Custard [custard with dried fruit], Sturgeon, a Subtlety [an elabo­rate dessert].

Second Remove:
Venison in frumenty [a wheat custard], Jelly [a cold, jellied meat], Stuffed Boar, Peacocks [probably redressed in their own feathers before being served], Crane, Roast Venison, Coney [rabbit], Bittern [a seabird], Pullets [half-grown hens], Great Tarts [probably a meat and fruit pie], Fried Meat, Leech Custard [date paste with wine syrup], and a Subtlety [desert].

Third Remove:
Quince in comfit [quinces probably stewed in wine], Egrets, Curlews, Partridge, Pigeons, Quails, Snipes, Small Birds, Rabbits, Glazed meat-apples [meatballs], White meat leche [poultry stewed in wine], Glazed eggs [probably hard-boiled and painted with an edible glaze], Fritters [similar to doughnuts, sometimes made with ground meat in them], Doucettes [a custard and bone marrow pie], Pety perneux [quiche tarts with currants and dates], Eagle, Pottys of lylye [unknown], a Subtlety.

Just for fun, I have included below five fun, tasty medieval recipes from my book ‘Medieval Celebrations’ in the hope that you might want to try some of them yourself. I guarantee that I have prepared each of them myself and while they may offer different taste combinations than you are accustomed to, each and every one of them is finger-licking good. Please feel free to copy these and try them for yourself. Bon apatite.

Pork in Spicy Syrup

4-lb. pork roast with bone
2 c. malmsey or other heavy, sweet red wine
4 tbsp. cooking oil or butter
1⁄2 c. currants
3⁄4 c. vinegar
3⁄4 c. sugar
2 onions, finely chopped
3⁄4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground caraway seeds
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1 c. chicken stock or bouillon

Remove the skin from the pork roast, and prick the fat layer, all over, with a sharp knife or large serving fork. Sauté the onions and currants in the oil. When the onions have become transparent, remove from the fire and add the wine, vinegar, sugar, spices, garlic, stock, and seasonings. Place the pork roast in a covered stew pot and spoon the marinade over it. Cover the pot, and place it in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours, turning the roast and spooning the marinade over it every 11⁄2 to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cover the roast and place it in the oven, allowing 30 to 35 minutes per pound. During the last hour of cooking, remove the lid, spoon additional marinade over the roast, and return to the oven uncovered to allow the roast to brown. Remove the roast to a serving platter and pour the remaining marinade into a pitcher. Serves 8

Fruit and Salmon Pie

1 lb. cooked salmon cut into 1-inch pieces, or a similar amount of canned salmon, flaked
1⁄2 lemon
1 c. sweet red wine
1 c. figs, chopped
1⁄2 c. dates, pitted and quartered
1⁄4 c. raisins
1⁄4 c. currants
11⁄2 tbsp. pine nuts
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. pepper
1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄8 tsp. mace
1⁄8 tsp. ground ginger
1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell and top crust

2 tbsp. milk
1⁄4 tsp. pulverized almonds
1⁄8 tsp. saffron

Preheat oven to 375° F. Place the salmon in a bowl, squeeze on the lemon, and stir to distribute evenly on the fish; set aside. Simmer the figs in wine for 10 minutes, or until soft. Remove figs and place in a mixing bowl. In the same wine, simmer the dates for three minutes, then remove dates to a separate bowl. To the figs, add all of the spices except the pine nuts. Add the raisins and currants and mix well. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the pie shell, and sprinkle the pine nuts across the mixture. Alternate the salmon and dates on the surface of the pie. Close the pie with a top crust, and crimp the edges. Pierce the lid with a fork, and make a small vent hole in the center. Combine the ingredients for the glaze, and brush on the surface of the pie. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until well browned. Each pie serves 6 to 8.

Lemon Rice with Almonds

2 lemons
4 c. water
2 c. uncooked white rice
2 c. dry white wine
2 c. fresh (or frozen) peas
11⁄3 c. currants
11⁄3 c. coarsely ground almonds
2⁄3 c. honey
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt

Grate the zest from the lemons. Squeeze the lemons, reserving the juice and pulp. Discard the membranes and seeds. In a large saucepan, bring the water, rice, salt, cinnamon, butter, and lemon juice, pulp, and zest to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir once during the simmering process. Add the peas to the rice for the last 7 minutes. While the rice is cooking, simmer the almonds and currants in the wine for 7 or 8 minutes. When the rice is cooked, remove from the fire, and fluff with a fork, adding the wined almonds and currants as you stir. Dribble the honey on the surface of the dish just before serving. Serves 6.

Chestnut Torte

1 c. coarsely ground or finely chopped chestnuts
2 eggs
2 bulb ends of scallions or spring onions finely chopped
¾ c. shredded mild cheese
½ c. heavy cream
2 tbsp melted butter
1/8 tsp salt
Dash of white pepper

8 inch pie shell baked for 5 minutes @ 400 degrees f. Preheat oven to 375 degrees f. In a medium sized bowl, lightly beat the eggs. When beaten add the cream, scallions and seasonings. In another bowl combine the chestnuts, cheese and melted butter. Fold the chestnut/ cheese mixture into the eggs and cream. Pour the mixture into the partially baked pie shell, place into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top of the pie and edges of the crust are golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Serves 6 – 8.

Herb Fritters

4 c. flour
3 c. lukewarm water
1 c. finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, savory, sage, marjoram, chives, rosemary
2 pkgs. (1⁄2 oz.) dry yeast (active)
1 tsp. salt
frying oil
honey to garnish

Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup warm water. In a bowl, mix together the flour, herbs, and salt. Stir the yeast water into the mixture, and add enough water to make a smooth, thick batter. Stir until free of lumps. Cover the batter and let rise for 1 hour. Heat the frying oil. Drop the batter into the hot oil a large spoonful at a time. If you are not deep frying the fritters, turn them once. Serve and garnish with honey. Makes 20 to 24 golf-ball-size fritters.

For dozens of medieval recipes, along with absolutely everything else you need to host a complete medieval feast or wedding please see ‘Medieval Celebrations’ by Daniel Diehl & Mark Donnelly (Stackpole Books, 2011) available on at:

Visit Daniel Diehl On Readers Gazette.

Images used for the article can be viewed on their copyright sites by click the image except.
Dining room scene from the Luttrell Psalter used for our social media card

ReadersGazette.Com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


© Copyright 2015 ReadersGazette.Com and on behalf of their authors, all rights reserved.

Scroll Down To Leave A Comment.

Written by Daniel

Visit RG Member 627
Below you can TWEET or SHARE this Article.
click the book image to see more about the book.

Research for my historical novel, Nothing Left Sacred, a look at England\'s King Henry VIII and his violent, oppressive war with the Roman Catholic Church, prompted a lot of research into life in the late Middle Ages and,...

Medieval Celebrations 2nd Edition: Your Guide to Planning and by Mark P. Donnelly Daniel Diehl

This fullcolor, revised edition of Medieval Celebrations offers readers plans for weddings, holiday parties, and Renaissance fairs, ideas for properly decorating the dining hall, lyrics and music for songs and dances, recipes for food and drink, patterns for period costumes, and even games and plays.......

Please Leave A Comment

ReadersGazette.Com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Amazon USA - Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies & TV Shows Anytime - Start Free Trial Now

Shop Amazon - Contract Cell Phones & Service Plans

Join Amazon Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students

Shop Amazon - Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

Amazon UK

Amazon UK Deals in Electronics and PC

Amazon Prime UK 30-day Free Trial

Amazon Prime Video UK 30-day Free Trial

Amazon Prime Music UK 30-day Free Trial

Audible UK 30-day Free Trial

Kindle Unlimited

Fast, FREE shipping and more. Prime members also enjoy exclusive access to movies and TV shows, music, unlimited photo storage and Kindle books.
Try USA Prime for FREE
Try UK Prime for FREE


Immerse yourself in inspiring voices by master storytellers who bring books to life, illuminating characters and taking you deep inside the story.
Try USA Audible for FREE
Try UK Audible for FREE


Click the image to view

Make Your Own Christmas Tree Decorations

Christmas is coming and one of our own family traditions as is the tradition of most families is the dressing of the Christmas tree. Each year, out would come the Christmas box, which was carefully... continue reading click image.

Indie Authors and Amazon Hachette Deal

Amazon And Hachette have finally resolved their difference but neither is telling us at the moment the contents of their agreement. David Naggar, said in a statement "We are pleased with this new... continue reading click image.

Miss Marple

Elspeth McGillicuddy is not a woman usually given to hallucinations. But when she witnesses what appears to be a woman being strangled on a train and no one else sees it, no one reports it and no... continue reading click image.

Kindle Voyage: Our First Impressions

Breaking News... Amazon are releasing the Kindle Voyage in October for the USA Market, here is our first impressions and comparisons based on all the data Amazon have released. On paper it looks... continue reading click image.

Rediscovering Enid Blyton and the Famous Five

My first Blyton book was a Noddy book, I can still remember sitting in bed as a four year old at my grand-parents house in Beddgelert, a little village that looked out over Snowdonia, the wind and... continue reading click image.


The ReadersGazette Article Section is where authors can post articles on any subject they like for our readers to enjoy. As long as the article will be of interest to the readers here and is... continue reading click image.

Pages: F  12 13 14

Try Video

Enjoy unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows. Anywhere, anytime.
Try USA Video for FREE
Try UK Video for FREE

Reading App

Read Everywhere with the Free Kindle Reading Apps.
USA FREE Kindle Reading App
UK FREE Kindle Reading App