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Napkins are of more modern date. Forks, with which the Romans were unacquainted, were also unknown to the French till the end of the fourteenth century: we meet with them for the first time under Charles V.
Our ancestors, in those days, ate nearly every thing that we do now; nay, their cookery possessed refinements to which we at this day are utter strangers : Roman civilization had not perished in the kitchen. Among the dishes in the highest request, I find mention made of dellegrous, maupigyrum, and karumpie. What were these? There was served up pastry of obscene forms, which were called by their proper names : ecclesiastics, matrons, and young ladies, rendered these grossnesses innocent by a modest ingenuity. Language was then stark naked. The translations of the Bible in those days were quite as crude and more indecent than the text. The Instruction du Chevalier Geoffroy la Tour Landry, gentilhomme angevin, à ses filles will furnish a specimen of the freedom then taken in language and instruction.
Beer, cider, and wine of all sorts, were consumed in abundance. Mention is made of cider under the second race of kings. Clairet was clarified wine to which spices were
added ; hypocras, wine sweetened with honey. In 1310 an English abbot entertained six thousand guests, before whom were set three thousand dishes. At the wedding feast of the Earl of Cornwall, in 1243, thirty thousand dishes were served up; and, in 1251, sixty fat oxen were furnished by the Archbishop of York alone, for the marriage of Margaret of England with Alexander III., King of Scotland. The royal repasts were enlivened by intermezzi : all sorts of music were performed ; the clercs sang songs, roundelays, and virelays. “ When the king (Henry II. of England) goes abroad in the morning,” says Pierre of Blois,
you see a multitude of people, running hither and thither, as if they had lost their wits : horses dash one against the other; carriages upset carriages ; players, public women, gamesters, cooks. confectioners, singers, barbers, dancers, boon companions, parasites, make a horrible noise : in short, the confusion of foot and horse is so hideous that you would imagine the abyss had opened and hell vomited forth all its devils.”
When Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, travelled, he had two hundred horsemen in his train, consisting of knights, esquires, pages, clergymen, and officers of his household.
This cavalcade was followed by eight carriages, each drawn by five strong horses : two of these carriages contained beer, one conveyed the furniture of his chapel, another that of his chamber, and another that of his kitchen ; the last three were filled with provisions, apparel, and various other articles. He had, besides, twelve horses laden with coffers, containing his money, gold plate, books, clothes, and the ornaments for the altar. Each carriage was guarded by a very large bull-dog, having a monkey on his back. (Salisb.)
It was found necessary to enact sumptuary laws for the table. These laws allowed the rich only two courses and two sorts of meat, with the exception of prelates and barons, who were at liberty to eat what they pleased. They limited traders and artizans to the use of meat at one meal only; for all the other meals they were obliged to content themselves with milk, butter, and vegetables.
UPON the roads the traveller met with litters, mules, palfreys, and carriages drawn by oxen, with wheels in the antique fashion. The roads were of two kinds, turnpike-roads and by-roads. Their width was regulated by law. The turnpike-road was required to be fourteen feet broad. The by-road might be shaded with trees, but no trees excepting such as were capable of affording shelter were permitted to border the royal roads. It was the vassals of the feudal lords who cut the infinite multitude of cross-roads by which the country is intersected. These were the times of the marvellous in everything
The almoner, the monk, the pilgrim, the knight, the troubadour, had always adventures to tell or to sing of. In the evening, seated on the benches in the chimney-corner, they listened to the romance of King Arthur, of Ogier the Dane, of Lancelot of the Lake, or the story of the goblin Orthon, a great newsmonger, who came in the wind and was killed in a large black sow. (Froissart.)
Among these tales was to be heard also the sirvante of the jongleur against a felon knight, or a narrative of the life of a pious personage. These lives of saints, collected by the Bollandists, displayed an imagination not less brilliant than the profane stories; incantations of conjurors, tricks of swindlers and idlers, chases of were-wolves, redemption of slaves, attacks of robbers, travellers saved, and who marry the daughters of their hosts on account of their beauty (St. Maximus); lights which at night reveal the grave of some virgin amidst the bushes ; castles which appear suddenly illumined (St. Viventius, Maura and Brista).
St. Deicole, having lost his way, met with a shepherd and begged he would tell him where