Medieval Domesticity: Home, Housing and Household
25th Annual Medieval Studies Conference
Saturday March 12-Sunday March 13, 2005
Putting Dinner on the Working-Class Table in Late Medieval London

Martha Carlin, University of Wisconson, Milwaukee

The dining standards and provisioning arrangements of the magnate households of medieval England are well documented and have been intensively studied. Medieval London’s aristocratic townhouses, and their roles as centers of conspicuous consumption, have also been the subject of extensive scholarly investigation. However, the shopping, cooking, and eating options of medieval London’s middle and working classes have received comparatively little attention. This paper will begin by surveying the types of evidence available for such a study, and the logistics of shopping and cooking for a working-class household. It will conclude with an examination of food costs and household income in late-medieval London, and use these to test current scholarly assumptions about rising wages and standards of living in England in the period after the Black Death.

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