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Author Topic:   Question dealing with Kings
hobgobln13
Member
posted 08-04-2001 10:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hobgobln13   Click Here to Email hobgobln13     Edit/Delete Message
I have some questions about life in medieval times. I am writing a screenplay that is set in medieval time. It is, however, supposed to be taking place on another planet that is in it's medieval time. My questions are what were the kings duties, what did they do for parties, what did they use to cook food, what did they eat, what did they wear (especially the king). Any questions that can be answered would be much appreciated. Please email me at Hobgobln13@aol.com

Thanks,
JT

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 08-05-2001 05:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
Hi JT,
Any answers to your questions should be posted here, not e-mailed to you, so that others may benefit from them.

As for your question, it would be much easier to give you answers if you could be more specific about the period. Courtly life became more organized and settled as time passed.

I can answer from a 14th century Western European perspective.
The king did not have many formal duties at that time like royalty today, given that they are now more symbolic than anything else which is reflected in their actions.
The king, or queen, would rule their kingdom pretty much as they saw fit, their main obligations being to their supporters(the lords, barrons, earls etc.) in the form of granting titles, lands etc. to keep their support. The king was often the head of the chivalric order and therfore had duties in granting knighthood, but he was by no means the only one able to do so. The king would also issue permits for building of castles and towns although granting rights for establishment of some business enterprizes was possibly done through his 'servants/supporters' who were granted the lands on which the activity was to be carried out. But all these things are not really duties, but simply acts in the running of the kingdom.
OK. Parties food and clothing. The clothing was very specific to the period and too complicated to explain here.
Parties were basically called feasts around the 14th century. Nobles and sometimes royalty would attend and there would be lots of eating and drinking. The food would ofcourse vary with the region, but meat was consumed in copious quantities, mostly just using a knife, sometimes with a plate made from half a round of bread scooped out. The food would be elaborately decorated, especially for visiting royalty.
Bread was baked in wood fired, dome ovens usually made of brick and still used today in some places. They make great pizza!! Meat was commonly spit roasted, in later times weight/gravity wind up mechanisms were constructed to turn the spit over the coals, replacing the servants. Meat may also have been baked in the ovens, but I don't know for sure. Vegetables were cooked in big pots hung over the fire. It wasn't until after 1492 that such things as potatoes, tomatoes, corn, capsicum(peppers) and others were brought back from the new world, so the fare was pretty limited up till then. Drink was either wine, beer or sider once again depending on the region.
Froissart mentions some formal respects paid by one royal to a visiting royal before a feast, and this kind of formality may have been common, but I don't know anything about it. Books on knighthood may be able to elaborate.
I guess, like any political gravy train, it was sometimes put on to impress and soften people to your cause and there would have been much discussing of politics during the feasts.

Hope that helps.

Erik

hobgobln13
Member
posted 08-05-2001 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hobgobln13   Click Here to Email hobgobln13     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks Erik. That helps a bunch. I will be able to use thie information greatly. Thanks again.

~Jake~

Merlin
Senior Member
posted 08-07-2001 06:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Some more points about the life of medieval kings:
Most important is the fact, that the royal court in Germany, France, Burgundy or Italy was almost always moving from one place to another. The kings had a widespread net of palaces, abbeys and castles where they could stay for some days or weeks in every part of the kingdom. The reason for that: A medieval kingdom had not much in common with a modern state; the political might was bound to a person and the king therefore had to show himself in his functions as representative of the kingdom and the church, judge, warlord etc. Every year the court organized meetings of the earls and counts of every part of the kingdom, where the noblemen had to swear on their personal loyality to the king. In return, they got documents which granted their possessions (land, rights, castles) and titles.
The voyage of the court could go over long distances: f.e. from northern Germany to southern Italy in only a few months, crossing the alps with hundreds of horses, tents and all a court and an army needs.

KnightsHonor
Member
posted 08-08-2001 12:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KnightsHonor   Click Here to Email KnightsHonor     Edit/Delete Message
Good info
I've been looking for information on the aforementioned subjects for awhile now.

About the feasts. Meat was often heavily seasoned, to hide the spoiling. And there was cheese if I remember right.
Birds such as swan and pheasant were also served.

Good luck with you're screenplay hobgobln,
I'd be interested in reading it when you're done.

------------------
"My honor is my life."

Check out my site: http://www.geocities.com/elcamino245/MedievalTeens.html

hobgobln13
Member
posted 08-10-2001 05:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hobgobln13   Click Here to Email hobgobln13     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks for all of your help everybody! I have yet another question! What did they sleep in, hay? What the king slept in must have been better than others.

Thanks again,
Jake

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Jake Tuttle

Gordon
unregistered
posted 08-10-2001 08:03 AM           Edit/Delete Message
Read the other mail at http://www.castlesontheweb.com/quest/Forum8/HTML/000050.html
for some data.

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'Demeure par la verite'
Visit; Gordon's Scottish Castles Resource Page

Merlin
Senior Member
posted 08-10-2001 11:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
In his palaces and castles, the king had a bed of his own. I know of a 11th century-text which says that emperor Heinrich IV. got very angry when he found out that the count who had to look for one of his palaces in Germany used his bed during his absence...

KnightsHonor
Member
posted 08-25-2001 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KnightsHonor   Click Here to Email KnightsHonor     Edit/Delete Message
Hey Hobgobln,
How go's the screenplay? Did the info we gave you help?

Good luck with you're writting.

Knights Honor

------------------
"My honor is my life."

Check out my site: http://www.geocities.com/elcamino245/MedievalTeens.html

hobgobln13
Member
posted 08-25-2001 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hobgobln13   Click Here to Email hobgobln13     Edit/Delete Message
Yes, thanks for all of your help. I might need some more help in setting up the castle. Thanks again.

Sincerely,
Jakei Tuttle

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Jake Tuttle

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 08-25-2001 10:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
Quoting KnightsHonour "About the feasts. Meat was often heavily seasoned, to hide the spoiling. And there was cheese if I remember right."

Yes, cheese has been around a long time.

I don't know where this stupid notion, that people in the past ate rotten meat, came from. Don't assume that these people were stupid and and no tastebuds.
People in the past were able to preserve some foods so that they could last for months without refrigiration, either drying, fermenting, curing or salting it.
Peasants had little access to game meat as the lord/king had vast areas of forest set aside as hunting grounds, forbidden to peasants, so the peasants hardly had the problem af surplus meat going rotten before being eaten.
Now, as for the king, a person with vast hunting estates, servants to hunt and prepare game and money to purchase any locally produced foods, would hardly have to resort to eating rotten meat, let alone serve it up at a feast.
Spices were used to make the food taste great, just as they are today, unless ofcourse you are a descendant of the English who seem to have a genetic predisposition to not being able to grasp the concept.

Erik

duncan
Senior Member
posted 08-26-2001 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
Or that no trade or commerce happened untill very late in the middle ages. Many bills of laden exists from early in the 11th c and before with countrys like Spain, China, Turkey and others.
Most of these records are in public domain.
Happy researching


I have to add that a pheasant is hung up in a cool dry place and is alittle ripe before it is eaten.

[This message has been edited by duncan (edited 08-27-2001).]

KnightsHonor
Member
posted 08-30-2001 12:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KnightsHonor   Click Here to Email KnightsHonor     Edit/Delete Message
I did not mean it to sound as if the meat was rancid nor to make it sound like they went around eating moldy, rotten meat. However you must admit that no mater how well preserved meat was, it must have begun to go bad even if ever so slightly. I'm not an expert on medieval food. If the information I posted was wrong it's beacuse the source of my information was wrong to begin with.

Anyway sorry if my info was off a bit.
Good luck to every one in all their endeavors

------------------
"My honor is my life."

Check out my site: http://www.geocities.com/elcamino245/MedievalTeens.html

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 08-30-2001 07:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
No problem KnightsHonor, don't consider our corrections to be condemnations. What you stated is a very popular misconception, but at least now you are informed.
You might be surprised at just how well meat can be preserved. Pork for example. In Spain and Italy I've eaten the very dry, red, strong flavoured cured hams that are a speciality, parts of Spain are famous for it. You can see the pork legs hanging from ceilings in shops and bars all over spain and they hang there for up to 2 years. The fact that the meat is quite dry and has been dipped in brine(I think) stops it going off. It tastes GREAT! This technique has been around for a long time. Even in parts of Asia they do something similar. They cut the legs and head off a whole pig carcass and extract the insides, bones included, from a cut along the belly. This cut as well as the cuts at neck, anus and legs are sewn back up and the whole thing treated(with salt/brine I think) and then kept in the house for a long time until eaten.
So meat does keep when treated correctly and the knowledge has been around along time.

This type of preservation works on the princial of osmotic gradients. The things that make food go off, bacteria and fungi, are living things and therefore cannot survive at 'salt' concentrations above a certain level. Simply put, water moves from low to high 'salt' concentrations, so if the ham is saltier than the inside of the bacteria, water will move across the cell membrane from the bacteria to the ham, literally drying out and killing the bacteria. Drying something or adding salt or sugar causes it to become too 'salty' and no longer suitable for sustaining microscopic life within it.
Products such as salted fish, jam, beef jerkey, dried fruit and so on all rely on this principal to stop them from going off.
I hope I explained that OK.

You're right Duncan about pheasant, and most other game meat for that matter, being hung up for a period before being eaten. I'm not sure of the purpose of it, but I've eaten quite a few meals of wild game(including rabbit, deer and duck) and I can assure you it tastes great and is not 'off'. No. No. the spices aren't hiding the off taste I tell you!

Erik

duncan
Senior Member
posted 08-30-2001 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
One of the best meals i've had was wild Pheasant, Irish Potatoes, fresh veggies, hand churned butter, stone hearth baked bread, and very old red wine.
Sure beats fast foods!

KnightsHonor
Member
posted 08-30-2001 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KnightsHonor   Click Here to Email KnightsHonor     Edit/Delete Message
Thank you for setting me strait Eric
You're explanation of the preserving process was very comprehensive, by the way.

------------------
"My honor is my life."

Check out my site: http://www.geocities.com/elcamino245/MedievalTeens.html

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 08-31-2001 08:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
You're welcome KnightsHonour.

"wild Pheasant, Irish Potatoes, fresh veggies, hand churned butter, stone hearth baked bread, and very old red wine" Hmmmmm!!!! That sounds fantastic Duncan. Did you do the bread yourself?
I've got a pile of firebricks sitting out the back, all I have to do is design and build the oven and get cooking.

Erik

duncan
Senior Member
posted 08-31-2001 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
The whole meal could have been fixed here in the house and we do often cook in our large fireplace using chaldrons and spits, but no, that one was in an old tavern which added something to the meal.
Our butchers around here have a 'thing' against hanging any meat for even a week, which leaves it tough and less tasty so we cure what comes in freash by several methods.
Erik if you have the room and the time to build an out door type fireplace and oven like the ones used to suplement many castle indoor kitchens i would.
The food if done right is worth the work!

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 09-01-2001 09:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
The type of wood fired oven I'm intending to build is a brick, enclosed dome oven with brick floor, an age old design. I will build a small one using wedge shaped firebricks, so it will be vaulted instead of domed.
I've seen them in a few castles and as far as I know were used mainly for bread baking. I don't understand, though, why not all castles have such an oven, given that they are not difficult to build and would be put to regular use in food preparation, even if limited to bread baking, for the castles inhabitants.
I had long been interested in these ovens, but after travelling through Italy and sampling the superior pizza that is produced in them I decided I had to get one.

Erik

duncan
Senior Member
posted 09-03-2001 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
I like the vaulted ovens the best as they have a good heat distrubution and don't have hot spots on the floor like the beehives do.
My thoughts on why more Castles don't have the ovens is something as useful as that would be the first to go when stone was filched from a site.
When you get yours built try a roast cooked in a heavy cast iron pan with of course the proper spices and veggies.
The fire in the box under the oven has to be watched closely at first for the right temp. but that is the only problem i know of when you use it to cook with.
Did you plan on haveing a door on yours like they do in Italy? I like their pizza's and i have been told about picking it up with the fingers, the shop owners take that as an insult and will through you out of the place. Of course its hard to imagine trying to pick up a slice that is 2+inches thick with all the toppings and sauce.
I seem to post when its about lunch or dinner time, oh'well.....

[This message has been edited by duncan (edited 09-03-2001).]

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 09-03-2001 11:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
Ahh....stone scavanging sounds as a likely reason for the absence of the ovens.

I'm intending to try making pizzas, foccacia, lamb and chicken roasts, bread and the like. But first I'll have to get my act together and build the thing. These ovens don't actually have a fire box underneath, the fire is lit inside the oven well prior to cooking and the oven then works on the heat absorbed into the brick as well as that liberated by the coals, which are swept to the edge. You're right about having to be careful about the fire when it is first lit. Moisture in the brick and mortar needs to be evaporated out with a very small fire, otherwise it can split the bricks and mortar.

I'll have to have a door for it for baking bread and roasts, but pizza and foccacia is done without the door, but with a very hot oven.
Pizza in Italy is in fact very thin with a thin layer of topping. This is the genuine pizza. The thicker 'pizza' we are used to in other countries is in fact foccacia with topping, which you can also get in Italy, but it is not pizza. I have eaten both types in Italy, usually as takeaway, and done so with the fingers, just like the locals also do. When eating pizza in the resturant I did so with the knife and fork provided, I don't know if it is a rude to use the fingers, but it would not be easier. I only ate pizza once in a resturant, usually I sampled other great dishes that can be had in Italy, and they were certainly very good.
I'm hungry, time for lunch.

Erik

duncan
Senior Member
posted 09-04-2001 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
Well its a late dinner tonight and here i am again talking about food.
My sister spent 20 years straight in Italy and returned alittle over a year ago, so it might be different now as shes never said any thing about the thin type being over there or that the thick type is not pizza, and she seems to still think the locals who use their fingers to eat it with would still get thrown out of a place. Maybe it's where she was at and in what city.
One good point about her being over there is she now can cook where as before she couldn't boil water with out burning it.
I didn't know you were speaking about a oven of that type. I've had experence with out door cooking of that sort but not in a building.
That kind of oven would seem to be abit more difficult then the others to use.

[This message has been edited by duncan (edited 09-04-2001).]

hobgobln13
Member
posted 09-05-2001 02:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hobgobln13   Click Here to Email hobgobln13     Edit/Delete Message
Hey Guys,

I appreciate all of the help you guys have given me but the recent posts I have noticed have had really nothing to do with the topic. I don't mean to sound like an ass, it's just that I really need some help setting the castle up, so if you can help, could you post something on the board or email me. Thanks again for all of your help. I have been able to establish a better setting thanks to your contribution to this message board. I hope to talk to you all soon.

~Jake~

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Jake Tuttle

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 09-06-2001 06:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
Sorry JT, threads sometimes go off topic, but it was an interesting deviation.

What exactly do you need regarding the setting up of the castle. This thread may be helpful; http://www.castlesontheweb.com/quest/Forum12/HTML/000247.html

More specific questions will generally be more likely to get you an answer.

Erik

PS Mead is another common alcoholic drink, I left it out in the first reply.

hobgobln13
Member
posted 09-06-2001 08:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hobgobln13   Click Here to Email hobgobln13     Edit/Delete Message
That thread helped a bit. I have another question dealing with royalty. Let's say a king was killed in a war, and he had no other family left to take his place. What would they do to get a replacement? Would they find someone who they thought would fit the job for a king? Any help would be much appreciated, as this is a big conflict I am having. Thanks for all of your replies.

~JT~

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Jake Tuttle

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 09-07-2001 05:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
Good question. I guess it depends on the situation. In the later middle ages the blood lines were complex but well known, so finding a relative, no matter how distant, was possible.
Power vacuums are often filled by the next most powerful person, so the situation could cause war to erupt leading to a powerful lord being insrtalled as king, the kingdom being incorporated into a neighbouring kingdom or the kingdom being split up.
Unfortunately I can't give you specific examples of similar events in history except for the case of the french throne in the 14th century, the king died leaving the English queen as the closest heir to the throne, which the French ofcourse would not have, so they installed someone else, but still in that family lineage as far as I remember.
I hope someone else can help you out a bit better with your question.

Erik

Merlin
Senior Member
posted 09-10-2001 05:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
A realy though one! A general answer is impossible, because every medieval kingdom had its own tradition and laws regarding access to the throne. The german tribes of the 4th/5th centuries (Francs, Goths, Burgundians, Vandals, etc.) mostly had 'war-kings': the warriors of the people made someone king by acclamation (collectively calling his name during a meeting) and by make him stand upon a shield. Then he was king for life, but after him the next best warlord in the people would be elected, and the blood-line didn't matter much.
In the late 5th and early 6th century some noble families became strong enough to establish a dynasty, as the Merowingians in France or the Gibichides in Burgundy. But still it wasn't the eldest son who became the only king: If a king died, the kingdom was splitted up in as many parts as there were sons. So France became a real puzzle, and if a strong king wanted to rule the whole kingdom alone, he had to kill his brothers, uncles and cousins - and that's exactly what happend several times, as you can read in the 'historia francorum' of bishop Gregor of Tours and the Chronicle of 'Fredegar'. The same tradition still existed under Charlemagne. That is the reason why the empire of the Francs was splitted up definitely under the sons of Louis the Pious and became the kingdoms of France, Germany and Italy.

Tradition changed after the end of Charlemagnes dynasty in all three kindoms. In France, the descendants of Hugo Capet formed a new dynasty, where the eldest son became the only king. In Italy, dynasties changed very fast until the kindom was integrated in the german empire during the 10th century. Germany itself went back to the old tradition of election. Only if a king and emperor was successfull he could form a dynasty, but on several occasions the earls and bishops elected someone else.
This worked good until the 13th century. Then the earls and bishops started to elect noblemen with not much power to the throne, so that they could rule more independently in their own areas. Example: In 1273 they elected Rudolf of Habsburg to the throne ( 1291), who was only count of the Aargau (today a part of Switzerland) and had not much possessions and no large army of his own...
But even in kindoms with a law that the next of kin should follow to the throne, not everything was always clear. Example: The 'war of the roses' in England. But I think we've got other moderators here at CQ who know more about that than I do...

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