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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Elizabethan Fact Bites

I've been doing a lot of research for my current wip which is set in the early 1600s and I found this link about life in Elizabethan England called the Compendium of Common Knowledge. Maggie Pierce Secara has done an extraordinary job cobbling little fact bites that are easy to digest and fun to learn.

Go on other there and take a look for yourself. It's an addictive site that will have you clicking to its many links. Below are a few things that surprised and tickled me.

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The metric system has not been invented yet, so:
Land is measured in acres.
Beer is measured in gallons and pints.
Distance is measured in miles, feet, and inches.


I never realized the Brits used "miles" at one point in their history.

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Some servant wages for 1550, Ingatestone Hall, Essex, (the country manor of Privy Secretary Sir William Petre): By the quarter:

The laundress, cook, butler, and the children's nurse were paid 10s each. The youngest housemaid got 5s, as did a part-time brewer.


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Beer can be flavored with just about anything, including pepper, ivy, rosemary, and lupins. Beer in England is mostly made without hops, and is usually flat.

So is it still flat? Doesn't sound very appetizing. But what do I know of beer?

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The Pope published a writ (1570) absolving English Catholics from allegiance to the Queen, since she is (he says) a heretic. Anyone who kills her is pre-absolved from the sin of murder.

LOL! How terribly logical of the Pope.

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Children are the property of their parents, and give them the respect a servant gives his master. Or else.

Wives are the property of their husbands. See previous admonition.

You just know I would've been an insolent wench back then.

9 comments:

Heather B. Moore said...

Very interesting.

I didn't realize the metric systme hadn't been invented yet. I remember reading that they thought water wasn't good for you, so they drank the ale/beer. Of course the water was probably impure due to their sanitation conditions.

Maria Zannini said...

True. I guess flat beer is better than bad water. The Japanese started the tea ceremony for the same reasons. If I have a choice between flat beer and tea, I'll take the tea. :o)

Anonymous said...

Beer made without hops is ale by definition.

Sorry. I couldn't resist! I suffered for my research and now you have to suffer too. :-)

I tried to use my LJ identity but for me at least there's no drop down menu by choose an identity.

daw

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, I was hoping you'd drop by and explain flat beer. Thanks!

I can handle this kind of suffering. You did all the work. lol

Thanks for letting me know about the absent drop down menu. I'll test it on another machine when I get the chance.

Anonymous said...

It's possible I have to be signed in to Google to see a drop down menu. I have a Google account somewhere.

Medieval ale was mostly flat because it was fermented in open tubs and only for a few days. The records show that in some places it was illegal to sell it more than four days old because it soured very quickly.

daw

Maria Zannini said...

If it were only a few days old, I imagine it wasn't very strong.

When did hops come along, Daw?

Anonymous said...

In England, late 15th century.

Ruv Draba said...

Thanks for posting this link, Maria. I love sites like this!

I never realized the Brits used "miles" at one point in their history.

Brits inherited the mile from the Romans, and the British Empire is probably the main reason that miles got spread around the world prior to metric conversion.

Beer in England is mostly made without hops, and is usually flat.

Beer was an extremely important bevvy in British cities, as the water was often undrinkable. Many labourers in physically demanding jobs would be paid in beer in part (to keep them rehydrated), and would sometimes drink several pints a day on the job - which sometimes led to industrial accidents. This practice continued through the Industrial Revolution - when the accidents often got quite bad.

Children are the property of their parents, and give them the respect a servant gives his master. Or else.

As well as child labour, this led to some quite bizarre practices, such as Baby Farming -- an early and sometimes barbaric form of child-care.

Maria Zannini said...

Goodness, Ruv! You're a regular compendium of info yourself. I have never heard of baby farming. Amazing!

Thanks for stopping by.