IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 1522: Welcome to Late Medieval England: Drunken Priests, Cunning Cooks, and Communal Vice

Thursday 4 July 2013, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Renée Michelle Ward, Department of English & Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario
Paper 1522-aPrepotacio: Sin and Pleasure of Priests in Chaucer's England
(Language: English)
Tatiana Leonova, European Association of Archaeologists, Ufa
Index terms: Daily Life, Religious Life
Paper 1522-bSubversive Pleasures of Abstinence and Abundance: Wynnere and Wastuore, Mum and the Sothsegger, and Why I Can’t Be a Nun
(Language: English)
Joanna Ludwikowska, Department of English Literature & Literary Linguistics, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Mentalities, Social History
Paper 1522-cThe Pleasures of the Palate and the Circumvention of Ecclesiastical and Social Regulations in English and French Medieval Recipes and Cookery Books
(Language: English)
Dino Meloni, Centre d'Études Médiévales Anglaises (CEMA), Université Paris IV - Sorbonne
Index terms: Daily Life, Mentalities, Social History

Paper -a:
The story of Lot and other Biblical characters testify that over-indulgence in drinking wine leads to a sin though not mortal. In the Christian world drinking wine was allowed to the clergy. Bishops’ visitations of the14th century prove that the cleric’s thirst for the enjoyment of wine was widespread. So what incited priests to drinking wine and why did their contemporaries consider parish priests to be good sots if not confirmed drunkards? The search for the inner mainspring of such style of behavior is the chief object of my paper. Bishop’s registers and especially visitations of a number of English dioceses confirm that the world of short-time enjoyment incited priests not only to problems and dangers endured by the clergy and parishioners because of the Black Death. I believe the inner world, the search for masculine ‘ego’ determined various forms of strengthening the priests’ masculinity, including gross enjoyment.

Paper -b:
The emergence and later persecution of the Lollards was both an effect, and a cause for social changes in England of the 14th and 15th centuries. The paper will investigate three 15th-century texts: Mum and the Sothsegger, Wynnere and Wastuore, and Why I Can’t Be a Nun in the context of how much the Lollard doctrines and preaching influenced 15th-century concepts of social (communal) vice and virtue, leading to their diversification and mollification. The texts give testimony to the changing approaches to material and spiritual richness, strikingly similar to some of the revolutionary ideas spread by the Lollards.

Paper -c:
During the fourteenth century, the Church played an essential role in regulating food consumption – epitomised by periods of fasting and feasting throughout the year. If the alternation of meat days and lean days became a fundamental part of medieval society, people’s experience of these cycles differed according to status. Fasting was not necessarily synonymous with renunciation of the pleasures of the palate, the effect of which – although considered sinful by some – was the emergence of adapting cooking practices and the tactful transgression of these rules by skilful cooks of wealthy courts and households for whom the flirting of pleasures with ecclesiastical rules was an ambitious professional enterprise. The skills of these cooks are recorded in the numerous recipes contained in over a hundred European manuscripts, dating from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century.

Pleasure and sinfulness regarding food have very often been pictured by medieval artists; however this analysis aims at focusing not so much on the artistic and critical vision of society conveyed by writers, poets, and painters, but on the concept of pleasure in medieval cooking from the standpoint of thirteenth to fifteenth century French and English recipes. In what way are rules and regulations exposed in such late medieval cooking manuscripts ? To what extent are the pleasures of the palate and the circumvention of rules illustrated ? How do artists’ pictures of the time parallel the testimony left by contemporary recipes?