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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 1622: Fit for a King: Feasting on Royal Occasions

Thursday 7 July 2016, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Paul Webster, School of History, Archaeology & Religion, Cardiff University
Paper 1622-aSubtle Messaging: The Coronation of Henry VI
(Language: English)
Vanessa Jane King, Department of History, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Social History
Paper 1622-bThe Wedding-Feast: Philip the Good and Isabella of Portugal's Wedding Celebration and the Pinnacle of the Festivities
(Language: English)
Romina Westphal, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Index terms: Art History - Decorative Arts, Performance Arts - General
Paper 1622-c'Greater than any Caesar had known': Sumptuous Banquets and High Status Manhood at the Court of Henry VIII
(Language: English)
Emma Levitt, Department of History, University of Huddersfield
Index terms: Gender Studies, Heraldry

Paper -a:
Descriptions of feasts are generally restricted to lists of courses and subtleties. An exception can be found in the account of the banquet following the 1430 coronation of Henry VI in Paris where subtleties were used to publicly proclaim the legitimacy of Henry's dual monarchy. This paper discusses the choice of motifs used. Reference to other examples will allow expansion on links between food and politics.

Paper -b:
Abstract withheld by request.

Paper -c:
Tudor feasting was an extravaganza of excess. Henry VIII's court was at its most splendid on feast days, which marked the major festivals throughout the calendar year. This paper will argue that these court festivities were much more than occasions for merely conspicuous consumption. They were an opportunity for Henry VIII to demonstrate his high status manhood: his most powerful and intimate courtiers waited on him, he was the frequent recipient of royal and foreign visitors, and the wealth of his court was highlighted through his lavish hospitality.

Another aspect of this paper is to highlight the men of the court, who performed key roles in court entertainment that included: jousts, masques, pageants, and banquets. My analysis of these men will determine their place on the social hierarchy of manhood at Henry's court that was shown through where they ate, whom they ate with, and whom they served, as dining became a manifestation of rank and favour.

One final aspect that this paper explores is the relationship between Henry's appetite for food and the effects on the male body. It was particularly important for Henry as a jouster to present a body that was suited to the physical demands of the tiltyard. Thus Henry's expanding girth in later life signalled a loss of manhood, spurred on by his inability to exercise self-restraint, when it came to his love of rich food.