Medieval Feast

Medieval Feast – Banquet

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 Feast

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.

Medieval Feast Jester

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:

A Medieval Feast (Reading Rainbow Books) Paperback – September 25, 1986

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook Hardcover – May 29, 2012

Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony Paperback – 1999

The Medieval Cook book! Top 10 Recipes for a Medieval Feast!

Medieval Celebrations: Your Guide to Planning and Hosting Spectacular Feasts, Parties, Weddings, and Renaissance Fairs Paperback – April 13, 2011

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