Pearsons Renaissance Shoppe Blog

Delicious Non-Alcoholic Renaissance Drinks Part 2

As we continue our series about non-alcoholic Renaissance drinks, we’re going to talk about some of the more ornate drinks. These drinks might be a little harder to replicate today, but with a little imagination and ingenuity, you can probably come up with a delicious recipe using today’s ingredients. When you are wearing authentic Renaissance period clothes, you will certainly complete the look with beverage that comes as close to what people actually drank back then. If you come up with any great recipes, or if you find any more Renaissance drinks, let us know in the comments section. Who knows – maybe we’ll have a Part 3, featuring your ideas!

  • Sekanjabin is a very exotic-sounding drink and it was made using a variety of sweet vinegar and sugar. We’ve never tried it, and although vinegar and sugar does not sound all that appetizing, it was quite popular during the Renaissance.
  • Honey has been a wonderful beverage ingredient for so many years, it seems! During the Renaissance, there was no shortage of honey in drinks. One of the most popular drinks to use honey was called Clarea of Water. This drink was a mixture of water, honey, and various types of spices, depending on what was local. The ingredients were mixed together and boiled. The drink would be cooled before it was served.
  • We thought we’d conclude our series with a quick and easy recipe for a drink that is just as popular now as it was back then: Rose/Lavender soda! This recipe comes from a cookbook dating back to around 1400:
    • 1 part rose/lavender petals
    • 2 parts water
    • 2 parts sugar/honey
    • Soak a number of petals in a pitcher of water holding twice as much water as petals for one night. Press, but not squeeze, the water from the petals and reuse them as needed. Mix into the water enough honey or sugar as to taste, and serve cold.

Delicious Non-Alcoholic Renaissance Drinks Part 1

Visit any Renaissance Faire and you will see a huge assortment of delicious Renaissance fashion drinks. From mulled wine to mead, there are plenty of tasty drinks that are great representations of what people in the Renaissance era drank. But suppose you don’t drink alcoholic beverages? It may seem like all you hear about is drinks with alcohol, but there were plenty of non-alcoholic drinks consumed during the Renaissance – some of them are still available today! Here are some of the most popular non-alcoholic drinks from this great time period!

  • While there may have been a strict class system during the Renaissance, one thing was for sure: people of all classes enjoyed milk! Milk was accessible to everyone, and it came from goats, cows, and mares.
  • An interesting brew that can be replicated today was sage water. Sage water was made by soaking sage in water overnight. This brew was used to cleanse the palette during meals.
  • We’ve all had a tasty Shirley Temple at some point. The grenadine-and-ginger ale combination is one of the best drinks around! Of course, people in the Renaissance era didn’t have Shirley Temples per se, but they had their own version of grenadine, called granatus. Granatus, like grenadine, was made using pomegranates and was most popular in Arabic countries.

Our Favorite Renaissance Playwright, Shakespeare!

Here at Pearson’s, it’s obvious we love everything about the Renaissance period – the fashion, the history, the art. We are also huge fans of Renaissance theatre. We’ve seen many versions of plays by the great English Renaissance playwrights like Christopher Marlow, Ben Jonson, and, of course, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is arguably one of the world’s most well-known playwrights, and with good reason. His plays are generally considered some of the best examples of theatre ever. Despite the popularity of his work, his life’s story isn’t as ubiquitous. Rather than give you a full biography of his life, we pulled together some interesting facts about “The Bard” that you might not know!

  • Though he wrote some plays while Elizabeth was queen, he is mainly considered a Jacobean writer.
  • Astronomers must be fans of Shakespeare – most of the moons that orbit Uranus are named for characters in his plays!
  • Even though he was incredibly prolific, Shakespeare did stop writing plays for a time and concentrated on writing sonnets. He only did this, however, because The Plague had caused many playhouses to shut down.
  • If there are any Trekkies reading this, you will be pleased to learn that two of Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, have been translated into the fictional language of Klingon.

 

Happy (Medieval) New Year’s!

Last month, we highlighted some holiday food traditions of the medieval period. While we’ll probably never get used to some of the recipes in that medieval cookbook, we certainly had a fun time reading about them! This month, we’re going to look at another holiday: New Year’s! Did you know that Julius Caesar declared January 1st the start of the new year because the month is named after the Roman god Janus, who was said to look into both the future and past with his two faces? Here are some facts about how people in the medieval period celebrated New Year’s.

  • The Council of Tours, a gathering of medieval Roman Catholic officials, abolished January 1st as the start of a new year in 567. It took Europe 561 years to agree that January 1st could be considered the start of the new year. The first nations to accept the date were Eastern European nations in 1362.
  • Before January 1st was adopted, countries in medieval times observed New Year’s on different days. For example, some countries chose to celebrate on December 25th while others considered March 25tgh the start of the new year.
  • England, in particular, had a tough time deciding when they wanted to celebrate the new year. Initially, they chose December 25th. Once William the Conqueror came into power, the date was changed to January 1st. Later, it was changed again to March 25th. It wasn’t until 1752 when January 1st became the final choice.

 

Medieval Bakers and Logos

 

At Pearson’s Renaissance Shoppe, we don’t just sell medieval costumes. We love learning about the medieval era in history, and we aren’t alone! We’re finding great articles online every day all about some of the quirkier aspects of life during the medieval period. Recently, we came across an interesting article from GIZMODO about the connection between modern logos and medieval bakers.

According to Gizmodo, London in the 13th century came alive when pipes were installed to deliver clean water to the citizenry. As life became easier as a result of the clean water, businesses flourished. However, with booming businesses comes the business of swindlers.  

In order to protect the population of London from the shady practices of huckster bakeries, Henry III created a law that regulated food, called the Assize of Bread and Ale. This law regulated the size and weight of bread, flour purity, and pricing of said items. This law also protected the bakers themselves. Bad bakers could have easily raised the price of their bread out of proportion to grain prices. The result would have punished other bakers and lead to mass starvation. 

How did bakers let people and authorities know that their bread was up to snuff? Logos! A law was developed that required bakers to imprint their products with a unique symbol to make it easier to trace the bread to the baker. Hence, the start of logos!

Have a Medieval Style Holiday!

Now that the holidays are in full swing and you can’t seem to go anywhere without hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” At Pearson’s Renaissance Shoppe, the holidays are really special to us. Not only do we get to be festive and celebrate with our friends and family, we also take some time to learn a little bit about medieval and Renaissance era holiday traditions. Today, we found some great information about what exactly people in the medieval era ate during this festive time.

Did you know that people in medieval times actually celebrated twelve days of Christmas? That’s a lot of celebrating! Wealthy people and people of nobility were able to feast upon fresh meat and flavor them with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper from India and Indonesia. Wealthy people were also able to afford sugar, so sweets were plentiful for the upper class people in the medieval period during the holidays.

Less fortunate people would still celebrate with food, but the food wouldn’t be as luxurious. Less expensive meat like sausage and bacon were eaten, and while sugar may not have been plentiful, poorer people still indulged in dried apples and honey.

No matter how you celebrate the holiday this year, keep some medieval style in mind. Take a look at The Forme of Cury, a cookbook written around 1390. This will give you some inspiration and who knows – maybe you’ll find your next holiday tradition!

Keeping Warm in the Medieval Era

 

It’s finally sweater weather! As we pull our sweaters and coats out from storage, we can’t help but wonder: how did people in the medieval era keep warm? We’ve all seen living conditions in movies and in previous Pearson’s Renaissance Shoppe blog posts and articles, and it really doesn’t seem like there was much of a barrier between medieval people and the blistering cold winter.  

The folks at the BBC did some of the hard work for us. Recently, they ran an article about what medieval people, specifically Robin Hood, might have done to stay warm during winter. The first defense against the cold was wool. Most of their clothing was made out of wool, with an extra next-to-body layer of linen. These materials were often layered to add to their effectiveness. Unfortunately, especially for someone like Robin Hood, perspiration limited the effectiveness of these materials. Medieval people had to remove layers until they cooled down (and dried off).

Medieval folks had winter accessories, albeit slightly different from ours. Their wool coats often came with a hood that would cover their coifs – a type of tight-fitting cap. They also wore gloves, but they were slightly different from the gloves we wear today. These gloves featured two fingers and a thumb, almost like today’s mittens.

Medieval Coffee Buzz?

 

As the weather continues to get colder, we all cling to specific drinks to keep us warm. Some prefer hot apple cider while others swear by hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. At Pearson’s Renaissance Shoppe, we are avowed coffee drinkers. We love a piping hot cup of Joe to start off these cold mornings and enjoy a toasty cup after dinner. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a world without coffee! Unfortunately, for those living in the medieval period, a coffee-less world would be their fate.

So, when did coffee finally make it to Europe? Well, according to National Geographic, the beginning of coffee is the stuff of legend. According to the legend, an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi took note of a strange red berry his goats were eating. These red berries turned out to be coffee beans. After sampling some of the red berries himself, he noticed what would become the world’s first coffee buzz!

Coffee became a food and wine staple in Africa, and soon it spread to Arabia and Muslim countries. The first recorded instance of roasted coffee beans brewed into a warm drink happened around 1000 A.D. This beverage grew in popularity and eventually made its way to Europe in the 17th century. That’s right: Europe had to wait more than 800 years for their coffee! We can’t even stand the drive-through at Starbucks!

Top Medieval Myths…and the Truth! Part 2

Whenever movies or TV shows are created that are based on specific time periods, and certain artistic licenses are taken, myths can be created and perpetuated for many years. This may be one reason why the medieval era is rife with popularly believed myths. At PearsonsRenaissanceShoppe.com, we love the medieval period, as evidenced by our detailed medieval costumes, so whenever we hear one of these myths, we just have to speak up and clarify. As we conclude our short series on medieval myths, we hope that we have inspired you to learn more about this fascinating period in our history!

  • The common image of knights is one of nobility, chivalry, and honor. While they were certainly these three things, knights were also young soldiers who were warriors at heart. At the beginning of the 11th century, as lords fought over land, knights would often show up to the small villages and massacre everyone. To try to stop the violence, the Pope at the time sent many knights to the Middle East as part of the First Crusade. This only created more violence.
  • Life in the medieval period was hard, unpleasant, and ultimately too short, right? That’s what most people think when they think of the medieval era. While the average life expectancy was 35 years, it’s important to remember that this was before vaccinations against childhood diseases were invented. Even though the image of a peasant doing back-breaking manual labor for an uncaring lord is common, it isn’t completely accurate. Peasants generally worked about 8 hours a day with generous breaks and naps (naps!). They also had Sundays off, long Christmas and Easter holidays, and days off for saint feast days. That doesn’t sound too bad, huh?

Top Medieval Myths…and the Truth! Part 1

One of the most mythologized times in history is the medieval era. People have so many misconceptions about the medieval period that separating fact from fiction can become quite the chore! We strive for accuracy with all out medieval costumes, so it is important to us that we help our customers learn about the medieval period, free from the myths. Today, we gathered some of the most commonly believed myths about the medieval era.

  • Many people believe that there weren’t any advancements in science for a variety of reasons. Some say the church would do anything to suppress any new scientific ideas and research. This is not true. In fact, it was the Catholic monks who set up monasteries all over Europe who would bring along extensive libraries. During this period, the church established many of England’s well-known universities, like Oxford and Cambridge, and translated many works by Aristotle and Plato, giving way to the Renaissance era.
  • The common belief is that everyone in the medieval era was dirty and smelled pretty bad. The fact is that medieval people actually washed quite often! A custom of medieval people was to offer a bath to guests when they entered each other’s home. Soap was also a very popular item back then, being made in England, Italy, Spain, and France.