A new study has found that kings in the early Middle Ages did not eat as historians believed.
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A study by scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh is changing modern ideas about food preferences among the elite of the ancient English kingdoms. This work also presents a new look at the relationship between different social groups in the early Middle Ages in England, according to the Daily Mail.
In the territory of modern England, after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, several Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were formed. They were so named because they were founded by representatives of the Germanic tribes of Angles and Saxons, who moved here from Europe.
Historians have long speculated that the Anglo-Saxon kings and nobles ate much more meat than the rest of the population, but a new study shows that they actually ate a lot of vegetarian food.
Cambridge researchers claim that very few people in early medieval England ate much meat before the English kingdoms were conquered by the Vikings in the 9th century. The ancient Scandinavians were famous for their abundant consumption of protein foods.
And scientists from the University of Edinburgh have found that even kings ate mostly more plant-based foods than we thought. But at the same time, they concluded that the farmers arranged rich feasts for the elite, in which meat was served. Scientists believe that in this way the farmers paid the food tax and did not do it for a whole year, as modern historians believe.
Meat banquets like these were an opportunity for kings to diversify their vegetarian diet, according to a new study.
According to scientists, during such celebrations, people could receive more than 4 thousand calories from food, which is 2 times more than what is now recommended as a daily dose. Each of the attendees at the banquet received about 4140 kcal when they ate 700 grams of meat, 350 grams of fish, as well as a large amount of cheese, honey and drank a lot of beer. Meat products included dishes with lamb and beef. Fish dishes also consisted of cooked salmon and eels.
The researchers also found that the early medieval diet was much more uniform across all social groups than previously thought. The scientists made their conclusions by studying the data stored in ancient times about food. The researchers also conducted an isotope analysis of human skeletons from 5th-9th century burials.
“We believe that meat dishes were served to the royals and nobles of that time only certain days of the year, when the farmers delivered a lot of meat to the court as payment for the food tax. “Meat was not part of the diet of the ancient kings in England,” said Sam Leggett of the University of Edinburgh.
Scholars have also suggested that the long-held claim that such lavish celebrations were the prerogative of the elite alone is fundamentally wrong.
“We studied the lists of products provided for the preparation of such banquets. Even if we take into account the huge appetite of all those present, at least 300 or more people should have eaten this amount of food at a time. “We believe that in addition to the nobles, some farmers were present at the royal banquets, which radically changes our understanding of the society of that time,” says Leggett.
Scientists are now conducting isotopic analyzes of the remains of some Anglo-Saxon kings, which may provide more answers to the question of what the kings of ancient England actually ate.