I have a glimpse into the life of mid-sixteenth century European royalty for you today. My source is The Foreign Quarterly Review, Volume 11, published in 1833 – although the same piece appeared in several other journals of the same year.
We now turn to the miscellaneous matter in these volumes, consisting of extracts relative to the finances, military regulations, ceremonies, entertainments, &c. of those times, and of descriptions of Germany, Denmark and England, by Italians, at different epochs. From the more miscellaneous extracts we shall select what has, perhaps unreasonably, tickled our fancy, namely, an account of the eatables daily supplied for the use of Leonora, Queen of France, during a visit she paid to her brother Charles V at Brussels, in the year 1544, and then conclude with some of the Italian portraitures of northern countries.
“Queen Leonora received daily for her mouth (omitting vegetables, soups, pastry, and the like), 128 lbs. of beef, sheep, 1 calf, 2 swine, 2 fat capons, 18 fowls, 4 partridges, 2 woodcocks, 2 pheasants, 2 hares, 24 quails or turtle doves."
Perhaps the reader will conclude, as we did whilst reading the list, that this was an ample provision for her majesty’s whole household? Not at all: it was her private bill of fare, for here follows the allowance for her train.
“For the kitchen of the suite were daily supplied 2 oxen, 18 sheep, 3 calves, 12 swine, 60 capons, 48 fowls and pigeons, and 40 head of game.”
“Leonora” was Eleanor of Austria (1498 –1558.) She was born Archduchess of Austria and Infanta of Castile and via strategic marriages became firstly, Queen consort of Portugal and later, of France. She and her siblings virtually comprised the entire royal families of Europe at the time: her brothers were the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, and her sisters Queen Isabella of Denmark, Queen Mary of Hungary, and Queen Catherine of Portugal. Perhaps luckily, she escaped marriage to Henry VIII of England when he chose her aunt (who also happened to be his brother’s widow,) Catherine of Aragon instead.
In honour of this royal pawn, I give you a right royal recipe from The Cookbook of Sabina Welserin (c. 1553.)
Wild game marinated in peppersauce
Boil fresh game in two parts water and one part wine, and when it is done, then cut it into pieces and lay it in a peppersauce. Let it simmer a while therein. Make [the sauce] so: Take rye bread, cut off the hard crust and cut the bread into pieces, as thick as a finger and as long as the loaf of bread is. Brown it over the fire, until it begins to blacken on both sides. Put it right away into cold water. Do not allow it to remain long therein. After that put it into a kettle, pour into it the broth in which the game was boiled, strain it through a cloth, finely chop onions and bacon, let it cook together, do not put too little in the peppersauce, season it well, let it simmer and put vinegar into it, then you have a good peppersauce.