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The Culture of Food in England 1200–1500$
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C. M. Woolgar

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300181913

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300181913.001.0001

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Hunger and Famine

Hunger and Famine

(p.214) Chapter Eleven Hunger and Famine
The Culture of Food in England 1200–1500

C. M. Woolgar

Yale University Press

This chapter analyses how people thought about food during times of hunger and famine, from the very poorest to the elite; how notions of social obligation related to the food supply, and how these were made manifest through systems of almsgiving; and how other groups dependent on such charity, such as the mendicant friars, might be treated. The different resources available to different sections of society occasioned important social comment: those who composed the political songs of the early fourteenth century were outraged at the levels of consumption in aristocratic households and especially by the way in which low-status guests were fed poor quality foods — an offence against traditions of hospitality. At the same time, these elite institutions made a virtue of giving food, of entertaining the poor, and often doing so with extravagant ceremony and elaborate plate.

Keywords:   hunger, famine, almsgiving, charity, food consumption, hospitality, elite institutions

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