The answers to last week’s 5 True or False challenges are:
11. The statement that Tudors drank water with their meals was FALSE. People knew that drinking water made them ill so they rarely drank any. Most people – including children – drank ale or beer. Ale had been the staple drink but was now was giving way to beer, much to the disgust of older members of society who thought it a nasty, foreign brew. Ale and beer are made from barley, the difference between the two being the addition of hops to make beer. Unhopped ale spoilt very quickly so was brewed every few days. Ale tended to be flavoured with a substance called gruit – a bitter mixture of different herbs, including yarrow, heather and whatever else may have come to the brewer’s hand. In the lower ranks of society, ale was usually brewed by women, as part of the regular food production of the household. Good “ale-wives” or “brewsters” could make a living selling their excess which suggests that making a palatable brew wasn’t always easy.They sold the ale on their own premises – ale-houses. Ale came in different strengths, the first brew from the mash (the fermented mixture of water and barley) was strong ale, followed by the average strength brew from the second use of the mash. The third brew was called ‘small ale’ and was weak, and very bitter. It was the drink for breakfast and for children. It did, however, have a fairly mild alcoholic content, but some degree of alcohol was necessary to provide a safe drink! The extended shelf life of beer opened the way to production on a much larger scale. This caused a decline in home brewing, and the growth of “common brewers”, generally male, providing a product to be bought in by households or delivered to inns, rather than being drunk on the premises. Ale or beer produced commercially was subject to inspection by the local ale-taster or ale-conner. Instructions to the ale-taster at Worcester in Elizabeth I’s time included the following order: “You shall resort to every brewer’s house in this city on their tunning day, and there to taste their ale whether it be good and wholesome for man’s body, and whether they make it from time to time according to the price fixed.”
12. Queen Elizabeth had bad teeth from consuming too much sugar. This is very much TRUE. Most of the upper echelon in Tudor time had bad or non-existent teeth. The cause was sugar – people loved to eat sweet things and those at the top of the rankings had the added benefit of being able to buy sugar to sweeten things even more. There are stories that Queen Elizabeth’s teeth were almost black and also that she had some false teeth made of wood. I have no reason to beleive that these statements are true!
13. Town streets were kept clean and tidy in the Tudor times. FALSE. There was no specific arrangements for the removal of rubbish so rubbish was very rarly cleared away. However – the streets were a convenient place for people to ‘dump’ their rubbish! As a result the rubbish rotted and then started to smell. For the poorer classes they just coped with it but the ‘upper echelons’ would carry a Pomander – a small container filled with sweet smelling herbs – which they held close to their nose.
14. Queen Elizabeth always paid for the food she and her servants ate when visiting. Another FALSE I’m afraid. The Queen made many journeys around England, staying at the Great Houses. She travelled with a large number of staff and hangers-on. All had to be fed – and ‘mine host’ had to pick up the bill. A 4 day stay with Sir Francis Bacon in 1577 cost £577. That’s £12,000 plus in modern terms. A three-night visit to Lord North in 1578 cost him £762 – over £15,000 now. Queen Elizabeth visited Theobalds, the Hertfordshire residence of Lord Burghley, the Lord Treasurer, and stayed from 10th to 20th May 1591. I hate to guess how much that cost my Lord!
15. Rich Tudors put glass windows in to show off their wealth. This one is TRUE. Glass was very expensive and only the wealthy could afford it. The edict ‘if you’ve got it – flaunt it’ was very much apparent in Tudor times. Ordinary people just had unglazed windows with wooden shutters although some used pieces of animal horn to make a window that let in some light.
Right – that’s the last answer.
Now here’s the challenges for next week – the last one in this sequence.
16. Tudors thought gardens were a waste of time.
17. The first firework display in England was given for Queen Elizabeth
18. Queen Elizabeth wore a wig because he hair had fallen out.
19. Tudors used anethetics to ease pain.
and last but not least
20. William Cecil did not help much in Queen Elizabeth’s court