Sunday, July 05, 2009

Question from Elizabeth M - Food for prisoners

I know this is an unusual question. I enjoy watching The Tudors, despite its inaccuracies. When Anne is kept in her Tower room, her waiting women throw out her food--some fruit, bread and cheese. Was that staple fare for imprisoned people. As Queen, would she not have been given something a bit better? Granted, she probably did not eat much, but as a high ranking prisoner, wouldn't she have received better sustenance than ordinary prisoners?


Roland H. said...

According to the royal accounts, Anne was given 25 pounds I believe (in Tudor currency) for her needs in the Tower.

Anonymous said...

The only specification I know of for the diet of a prisoner was for someone being "pressed" to plead guilty or not guilty, The "worst bread" (Coarse and full of bran, made with rye flour and sometimes ground peas) once every other day, Nothing else at all on those days. On the days bread was not ptovided, one drink of water from the nearest pond or puddle. This was intended to be a hardship, to encourage the prisoner to plead. Other prisoners, if they could afford it, could have cooked food (and ale, beer, or wine} brought in from the outside-- London was full of "carry-out" cookshops.

Bread came in several varieties, from "worst" to fine white bread. Cheese was for the working poor, though it might be used in cooking in grander kitchens. Fresh fruit was seasonal, and even in the high season a luxury. It would not have been available in May.

Given the short time Anne was in the tower, twenty-five pounds would have enabled her to eat and drink moderately well, though perhaps not to have fine wine, sweets, or spices. The food served to her would also feed her personal attendents.