Friday, December 29, 2006

The King bans Coffee.

Today, December 29th …

The proliferation of coffee houses in seventeenth century London made King Charles II nervous. Coffee houses were ideal places to chew the political fat, which could perhaps include ideas of dissent and decapitation – so in view of his father’s fate Charles’ reaction is not surprising. So what is a King to do? Ban them of course, which Charles attempted to do by a Proclamation issued on this day in 1675.

Naturally, it does not do for a King to publicly proclaim insecurity about his head, so Charles argument was that coffee houses disturbed the peace of the realm and promoted idleness and some scurrilous and defamatory rumour-mongering.

By the King
Suppression of Coffee-Houses.


Whereas it is most apparent, that the Multitude of Coffee-Houses of late years set up and kept within the Kingdom, the Dominion of Wales, and the Town of Berwick on Tweed, and the great resort of Idle and disaffected persons to them, have produced very evil and dangerous effects; as well for that many Tradesmen and others, do therein mis-spend much of their time, which might and probably would otherwise by imployed in and about their Lawful Callings and Affairs; but also, for that in such houses, and by occasion of the meetings of such persons therein, diverse False, Malitious and Scandalous Reports are devised and spread abroad, to the Defamation of His Majesties Government, and to the Disturbance of the Peace and Quiet of the Realm; his Majesty hath thought it fit and necessary, That the said Coffee-houses be (for the future) put down and supressed, and doth (with the Advice of his Privy council) by this Royal Proclamation, Strictly Charge and Command all manner of persons, That they or any of them do not presume from and after the Tenth Day of January next ensuing, to keep any Publick Coffee-house, or to Utter or sell by retail, in his, her, or their house or houses (to be spent or consumed within the same) any Coffee, Chocolet, Sherbett or Tea, as they will answer the contrary at their utmost perils.

And for the better accomplishment of this his Majesties Royal Pleasure, his Majesty both hereby will and require the Justices of the Peace within their several Counties, and the Chief Magistrates in all Cities and Towns Corporate, that they do at their next respective General Sessions of the peace (to be holden within their several and respective Counties, Divisions and Precincts) recall and make void all Licences at any time heretofore Granted, for the selling or retailing of any Coffee, Chocolet, Sherbett or Tea. And that they or any of them do not (for the future) make or grant any such Licence or Licences to any persons whatsoever. And his Majesty doth further hereby declare, that if any person or persons shall take upon them, him or her, after his, her or their Licence or Licences recalled, or otherwise without Licence, to sell by retail (as aforesaid) any of the Liquors aforesaid, that then the person or persons so Offending, shall not only be proceeded against , upon the Statute made in the fifteenth year of his Majesties Reign (which gives the forfeiture of five pounds for every moneth wherein he, she or they shall offend therein) but shall (in case they persevere to Offend) receive the severest punishments that may by Law be inflicted.

Given at our Court at Whitehall, the Nine and twentieth day of December 1675, in the Seven and twentieth year of Our Reign.

God save the King

The proclamation was to take effect on January 10th, but due to pressure from his own ministers (who loved their coffee), it was withdrawn on January 8th.

Hannah Woolley’s famous book ‘The Accomplished Ladies Delight … ’ was published in the same year. It did not contain any coffee recipes – it was still an exotic and expensive beverage, and it was a long time before it sank to the level of a mere culinary ingredient. The book did have some recipes for other beverages that must have been just as risky to the peace and quiet of the realm, such as cock ale, capon water, artificial malmsey – and ‘Usquebath’ (i.e whisky)

To make good Usquebath.
Take two Gallons of good Aquavitae, four ounces of the best liquorice bruised, four ounces of Anniseed bruised, put them into a Wooden, Glass, or Stone Vessel, and cover them close, and so let them stand a week, then draw off the cleerest and Sweetest with Molosso’s and keep it in another Vessel, and put in some Dates, and Raisens stoned; keep it very close from the Air.

Monday’s Story …

New Year Breakfast.

A Previous Story for this Day …
Last year on December 29th we had a story about Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup, called 'The Battle for Food'.
On this Topic ...

For other interesting primary documents on tea and coffee, see Thomas Gloning's site.
If you love coffee as an ingredient, please look a the Archive of Coffee Recipes.

Balzac's famous dissertation “The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee” is also on the Companion site.

Quotation for the Day …

Wherever it has been introduced it has spelled revolution. It has been the world's most radical drink in that its function has always been to make people think. And when people think, they become dangerous to tyrants. William Ukers.


Anonymous said...

Let us not forget Bach's Kaffee Kantata - "Oh, how sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses, mellower than muscatel wine!"

Though to be honest, I prefer tea myself.

The Old Foodie said...

me too, I'm a tea drinker.

Anonymous said...

I've become enamoured of 'white tea'lately - it doesn't have the tannic bite of a black tea, but it has plenty of tea flavor. My favorite tea, though, is English breakfast tea (Twinings). Yours?

The Old Foodie said...

Favourite? If it's tea, I like it! English breakfast is my favourite "ordinary" tea (or maybe its Darjeeling, I cant decide), but I drink a lot of green tea these days. A lot. I recently bought a variation on Earl Grey called "Girlie Grey" which was delicious too. Different teas for different days, moods, occasions. Must do a story on tea.