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Tudor Trivia – Feeding the Five Hundred

Tudor Trivia

A snippet of interesting trivia relating to the Mary Rose, and Tudor life in general. Updated most Tuesdays.

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Feeding the Five Hundred

With a crew of 500 mariners and soldiers to feed, it was important that food on the Mary Rose was rationed, to prevent it running out (although, with Henry VIII’s ships rarely going further than France, supplies were never more than a few days away by supply boat!)

 

So, what would a working sailor get to keep them going on those sea voyages?

 

Monday – 1lb Biscuits; 2lb Beef; 1 gallon Beer

Tuesday – 1lb Biscuits; 2lb Beef; 1 gallon Beer

Wednesday – 1lb Biscuits; 1/4 fish; 2oz Butter 4oz Cheese; 1 gallon Beer

Thursday – 1lb Biscuits; 1lb Pork; 1 pint of Peas; 1 gallon Beer

Friday – 1lb Biscuits; 1/4 fish; 2oz Butter 4oz Cheese; 1 gallon Beer

Saturday – 1lb Biscuits; 1/4 fish; 2oz Butter 4oz Cheese; 1 gallon Beer

Sunday – 1lb Biscuits; 1lb Pork; 1 pint of Peas; 1 gallon Beer

These would probably be supplemented by seasonal vegetables, were available.

 

Meat would be fresh for the first few days, then salted for the rest of the voyage, soaked a few days before to make it edible

Fish would also be salted, rather than caught fresh – with 500 men to feed, you couldn’t rely on catching enough. While a fishing kit was recovered, it was probably for recreational purposes, rather than for providing food.

Biscuits would be baked for four hours to made the hard, ensuring they lasted for a long time, then soaked in beer or broth to soften them for eating. Unlike modern biscuits they were savoury rather than sweet.

Beer would be small beer, only around 1-2% proof, just enough for the fermentation process to kill off any harmful bacteria in the water (not that they knew about bacteria at the time, but the link between drinking water and getting diseases was recognised)

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