When the Lord of the Castle was not involved in any battles he often entertained guests with medieval banquets/feasts at his Castle, these lavish feasts were held in the great hall of the castle. It was a time to celebrate and relax and a feast could go on all night.
Feasting was a very important part of medieval life for Kings in medieval times, it was a way for them to lift their own spirits and the people around them. Only the lords families, knights and close friends and associates usually attended these medieval banquets and the finest foods, wines and ales were served in abundance.
The High Table | Focus of the Medieval Feast
The most important quests would sit at the head table called the high table with the lord and lady. The lord and lady would sit on ornate chairs under a canopy that displayed their coat of arms and emblems.
Next to the lord could be a food tester, these were usually needed to test the lords food in case it had been poisoned. The Lords dogs would probably be lying around the table waiting for leftover food to be thrown. The quests would eat the food with their fingers as there were no knifes and folks at that time and food was served on slices of stale bread as plates.
Medieval Christmas feast in a castle
Medieval Feast | Staff
There were lots of staff on hand at a Medieval banquet to serve the food and fill the drinking cups with wine or ale, pages and or squires who were training to become knights under the guidance of the Lord would usually help serve food and drinks.
Cooks would be working away in the kitchen roasting meats such as chicken, hog and plates of vegetables and berries would be prepared. There would usually be soldiers guarding the entrance to the banqueting Hall.
Medieval Feast| The Menu and Service
Heralds would play trumpets to signal the arrival of the next course of food, there could be as many as five courses at a medieval banquet and there were some unusual foods such as roast swan served.
A typical medieval banquet menu could look something like this:
First course – potage (a thick soup of meat and vegetables boiled and mashed)
Second course – stuffed peacock – stuffed with various ingredients and roasted over an open fire
Third course – roasted wild boar – this was usually a full boar that was roasted and served whole
Fourth course – pears in red wine
Fifth course – selection of nuts that were available locally
Most meals were washed down with wine or beer, they were served in large 3 handed drinking cups so that the wine or ale could easily be shared and people at the feast would drink from the same cup.
Medieval Feast | Dress code
The medieval banquet was a special occasion and people invited knights, family and friends who would dress in the best clothing for the occasion, fancy robes hats and garments would be worn by all.
Medieval people would wear a copper brooch with some design like a dagger to this kind of medieval banquet. The Lord and Lady who had arranged banquet usually have the finest clothes and jewelery of all the guests.
A jester entertains lords at a medieval feast
Medieval Feast | Entertainment
There was usually quite a lot of entertainment at a medieval Banquet, medieval musicians such as minstrels and entertainers like troubadours would entertain quests before the start of the medieval banquet to create a good atmosphere.
Colorful Jesters would be responsible for making the Lord and Lady and their guests laugh and singers, jugglers would also help with the entertainment.
Medieval Feast Facts:
The guests seated around the Lord and Lady would be positioned in order of their importance
Spiced porridge was often served called “frumentry” at a medieval feasts
“Frumentry”, was usually served with the first course at a medieval feast
Long tables were laden with various meats, stuffed birds and pastries
People ate with their hands at the medieval feast and there was no cutlery
There were no plates and people ate off slabs of stale bread called trenchers
Feast guests were entertained by musicians, minstrels and jesters
Medieval feasts were held in the great Hall of the Castle
Medieval feast could go on late into the night
Important guests and people close to the King would sit at the high table
The king had a food tester to test that is food had not been poisoned
Medieval people drank from the same large cup that would have several handles
People wore the finest clothes to the medieval feast as it was a special occasion
Links to Great Medieval Feast Resources for Further Reading: