I found my information from the following fascinating text. Furnivall, Frederick James, ed., Early English Meals and Manners: John Russell's Boke of Nurture, Wynkyn de Worde's Boke of Keruynge, The Boke of Curtasye, R. Weste's Booke of Demeanor, Seager's Schoole of Verture, The Babees Book, Aristotle's A B C, Vrbanitatis, Stans Puer ad Mensam, The Lytylee Childrenes Lytil Boke, for to serbe a Lord, Old Symon, The Birched School-Boy, &c., &c., with some Forewords on Education in Early England. Detroit: Singing Trees Press, 1969.
The first story I found interesting in this book is called The Boke of Curtasye . It seems to written by a man for men. Some of the material is common sense and still applies today, but other of it applies only to the time in which it was written. They even had the courtesy of "don't double dip" in the Middle Ages! Although it is stated as "don't put into the dish, bread that you have once bitten." It was circulated around 1430-40. I have copied its first book below.
The second story called On Rising, Diet, and Going to Bedis also very interesting, but might be a little late for our time period according to the publishing date. However, its contents are contained within a book of medieval manners and it seems to be very similar to the previous mentioned material. They thought that one should eat only twice a day. They skipped the "most important meal of the day" as we say today, or breakfast. Supper and dinner were the only meals eaten. They were not to drink between meals --- I would assume this meant filling alcoholic beverages. Supper, or lunch, was to be the largest meal of the day. This was to avoid consuming large amounts of food before going to bed. They also were to rub their body before going to bed to stimulate circulation. Undressing by a fire, and warming garments were also recommended to avoid catching a chill. Most importantly, they believed in stress relief! One was to "put off your cares with your clothes."
The Book of Courtesy
The First Book.
In this book you may learn Courtesy.
Every one needs it.
On reaching a Lord's gate, give the Porter your weapon, and ask leave to go in.
If the master is of low degree, he will come to you; if of high, the Porter will take you to him.
At the Hall-door, take off your hood and gloves.
If the first meal is beginning, greet the Steward, bow to the Gentlemen on each side of the hall, both right and left; notice the yeomen, than stand before the screen till the Marshal or Usher leads you to the table.
Be sedate and courteous if you are set with the gentleman.
Cut your loaf in two, the top from the bottom; cut the top crust in 4, and the bottom in 3.
Put your trencher before you, and don't eat or drink till your Mess is brought from the kitchen, lest you be thought starved or a glutton.
Have your nails clean.
Don't bite your bread, but break it. Don't quarrel at table, or make grimaces.
Don't cram your cheeks out with food like an ape, for if any one should speak to you, you can't answer, but must wait.
Don't eat on both sides of your mouth.
Don't laugh with your mouth full, or sup up your potage noisily.
Don't leave your spoon in the dish or on its side, but clean your spoon.
Let no dirt off your fingers soil the cloth.
Don't put into the dish bread that you have once bitten.
Dry your mouth before you drink.
Don't call for a dish once removed, or spit on the table: that's rude.
Don't scratch your dog.
If you blow your nose, clean your hand; wipe it with your skirt or put it through your tippet.
Don't pick your teeth at meals, or drink with food in your mouth, as you may get choked, or killed, by its stopping your wind.
Tell no tale to harm or shame your companions.
Don't stroke the cat or dog.
Don't dirty the table cloth with your knife.
Don't blow on your food, or put your knife in your mouth, or wipe your teeth or eyes with the table cloth.
If you sit by a good man, don't put your knee under his thigh.
Don't hand your cup to any one with your back towards him.
Don't lean on your elbow, or dip your thumb into your drink, or your food into the salt cellar: Thant is a vice.
Don't spit in the basin you wash in or loosely(?) before a man of God.
Another fascinating story from this book is called On Rising, Diet, and Going to Bed (from Sir John Darington's "Schoole of Salerne," 2nd part. The Perserbation of Health, or a Dyet for the Healthfull Man, 1624, p. 358. It is also translated below.
On rising, empty your bladder and belly, nose and lungs.
Cleanse your whole body.
Say your Prayers.
Walk gently, go to stool.
Work in the forenoon.
Always wear a precious stone in a ring; hold a crystal in your mouth; for the virtue of precious stones is great.
Eat only twice a day.
Don't drink between dinner and supper.
Don't have one fixed hour for your meals.
In Winter eat in hot, well-aired places.
Fast for a day now and then.
Eat more at supper than dinner.
After meals, wash your face, and clean your teeth, chat and walk soberly.
Don't sit up late.
Before bed, rub your body gently.
Undress by a fire in Winter, and warm your garments well.
Put off your cares with your clothes, and take them up again in the morning.
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