Weekly study3 hours
A History of Royal Food and Feasting
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Explore the history of royal food through the tastes of five key monarchs.
From the Tudors to the 20th century you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists from the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces, and indulge in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces. We’ll take an intimate look behind the scenes at some of the most incredible palaces in England; Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace, Elizabeth I at the Tower of London, George I at Hampton Court Palace, George III at Kew Palace and Victoria at Kensington Palace.
Week 1: King Henry VIII and Hampton Court Palace
- The Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace and catering to the king, his court and servants.
- The celebrations and christening of Edward VI.
- Henry’s expanding waistline and the science behind his assumed, heavy protein diet.
Week 2: Elizabeth I and the Tower of London
- Palace or a prison? Elizabeth I’s relationship with the Tower.
- The expansion of Elizabeth’s empire, discovery of new worlds, exotic foods and their influence on eating habits.
- Surviving or thriving; life as a prisoner at the Tower, and some daring escapes.
- Sir Walter Raleigh; his life as a prisoner in the Tower, experimenting with herbal plants, including his Great Cordial recipe.
Week 3: George I at Hampton Court Palace
- How chocolate came to be an integral part of the English court and why George I had his own chocolate maker.
- Lavish entertainments using chocolate to showcase kingship and wealth.
- The science of chocolate.
Week 4: George III at Kew Palace
- The Royal Kitchens at Kew Palace and how it catered for the Royal family.
- George III; flamboyance versus frugality
- The mad king. George’s medical treatment and the food he ate following his first bout of mental illness.
Week 5: Victoria and Kensington Palace
- Young Victoria and the celebrations in 1836 when she turned 17.
- The rise of the middle class queen. New technology and the Victorian food revolution.
- Victoria’s eating habits and her favourite foods.
- The democratisation of tea and cake.
Learning on this course
You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Investigate a range of evidence including: artefacts, documents and diary entries to draw conclusions about monarchs and key food events from the past.
- Explore common misconceptions about the palaces, monarchs and their impact on changing dietary tastes from Henry VIII to Queen Victoria.
- Investigate the flavour intensity, nutritional value and medicinal benefits of food past and present.
- Discuss typical flavour combinations of the era based on a selection of historic recipes and flavour experiments, adapted for learners to try for themselves at home.
Who is the course for?
This course is intended for anyone with an interest in history, food and food science. It doesn’t require any reading before you start or previous experience of studying the subject.