The Lord of the Castle often entertained guests in the Great Hall of a Castle, his guests were treated to lavish feasts.
This was a time for royalty to celebrate with their family and friends, important nobles and knights were often invited to attend and this was a time to celebrate, relax and feast on the best meats and drink the best ales and wines.
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. Feasts were commonly a gathering of kings’ or nobles’ family and friends in which an abundant supply of the finest foods and drinks were supplied at a grand table.
The Banquet was usually a more formal and pomp affair, commonly used on a very important occasion, such as when other important kings, nobles, knights, or clergy visited.
Medieval banquets and medieval feasts were very similar celebrations and both involved plenty of eating, drinking, and celebration, however, medieval banquets were generally considered to be more formal, important meetings of large groups of important people that marked very significant events, whereas feasts where more common informal celebrations of lesser events such as birthdays, with the emphasis on eating and drinking and having a good time!
Great medieval banquets commonly had more courses than medieval feasts, feast usually had around 3 courses whereas banquets could have around 7 or 8 which many more dishes served at each course sometimes as many as 20 dishes would be served at one course!
During feasts and banquets, the most important guests would sit at 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 lord’s food in case it had been poisoned. The Lord’s dogs would probably be lying around the table waiting for left-over food to be thrown.
The guests would eat the food with their fingers as there were no knives and forks at that time and medieval food was served on slices of stale bread as plates.
There were lots of staff on hand at a medieval feast or 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, and hog, and plates of vegetables and berries would be prepared. There would usually be soldiers guarding the entrance to the Banqueting Hall.
At banquets 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, whereas a feast was commonly less formal.
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.
The medieval banquet was usually arranged for very special occasions and very important nobles such as Dukes and Barons were commonly invited family, and friends would dress in the best clothing for the occasion, fancy robes hats, and garments would be worn by all.
Medieval people commonly would wear a copper brooch with some design like a dagger to this kind of medieval banquet. The Lord and Lady who had arranged the banquet usually wore the finest clothes and jewelry of all the guests.
The dress code was not as formal for a medieval feast, although it was still considered an honour to attend a feast and people would dress accordingly.
There was usually quite a lot of entertainment at a medieval banquet and also medieval feasts attendees were entertained by medieval musicians such as minstrels and entertainers like troubadours would entertain guests 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, minstrels and other entertainers such as jugglers would also help to keep the guests entertained.