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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

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

C. M. Woolgar

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300181913.003.0011

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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