The sweet banquet in early modern England

Stewart, Frances Louise (2016) The sweet banquet in early modern England. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In early modern England, the ‘banquet’ was a distinct meal type consisted solely of confectionery and fruit, accompanied by alcoholic distilled waters and wine. This dining practice has thus far received little scholarly attention, and this thesis provides the first full study of the sweet banquet. It takes account of a wide range of primary sources, including visual and material culture, architecture, household papers, inventories and literature in tracing the development of the banquet at court and its dissemination to the nobility, gentry and ‘middling’ sorts. That the practice of banqueting was ubiquitous at this time is a major new finding.

The banquet is revealed to have fulfilled a range of well-defined social functions. An important element of court ceremony under both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, it expressed contemporary ideas about kingship and articulated England’s place on a European stage. From the mid sixteenth century, the banquet is shown to have been central to elite sociability beyond the court. It was an important indicator of group membership, and a key site for relationship building and the demonstration of social status. Close attention to primary sources reveals that the banquet was intended as a recreation of the ancient symposium, a new finding which undermines the widely held assumption that Tudor visual culture did not engage with the continental renaissance. Finally the gendered nature of the banquet is considered in relation to feminist theory. This sheds new light on the relationship between public and private in early modern England, the gendered nature of space within the country house, and the extent to which feminine agency was possible in a patriarchal society. Overall, this study of the banquet is indicative of the value of studying ephemeral cultural practices, and the wide range of insights that this can generate.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Neher, G.
Keywords: Elizabethan architecture; Tudor art; Tudor food; Sugar banquet; Gender
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 33750
Depositing User: Stewart, Frances
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2016 13:17
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 08:41

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