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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Re: Diet and Size
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0864.  Friday, 28 October 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Best <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Oct 94 08:19:18 PDT
        Subj:   Diet and Size
 
(2)     From:   Piers Lewis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Oct 1994 11:16:55 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0859  Great Ones
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Best <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Oct 94 08:19:18 PDT
Subject:        Diet and Size
 
On diet, upper and lower classes. I very much doubt that Elizabethans had
"nourishing" diets for more than six months of the year at most. The northern
climate, and the necessity of killing off a good portion of livestock in the
fall to allow the rest to stay alive in the winter, must have meant that the
winter months were on the whole very lean indeed. We tend to forget, with
everything now available year round, how important dried and salted meats and
butter were -- and they are of course far less loaded with vitamins.
 
Foreign visitors to England commented on the quality of their roast meats, but
also on the scarcity of vegetables in the diet of the well-off. Scurvy was
rampant in the winter, and was probably more prevalent in the upper classes
where they ate white bread and *cooked* "sallats," if vegetables were to be
found. Medical treatises of the time have many recipes supposedly designed to
help the bleeding gums and loose teeth that were the result of scurvy, and a
lot of them actually advise against the use of fruits, since they loosen the
bowels. The lower class diet of whole bread, pease, and ignorance of medical
knowledge may actually have been more nourishing.
 
Size? I don't know much about this one, but thought that some of the evidence
came from upper-class things like armour and costumes that have survived.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Piers Lewis <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Oct 1994 11:16:55 -0600
Subject: 5.0859  Great Ones
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0859  Great Ones
 
If the size of most late-medieval suits of armor is a reliable indicator, the
average height of a well-nourished male noble in the 14th and 15th centuries
was about 5'6"--or less.
 

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