History of Food: 16th-century Rome

An introduction to food history through 16th-century Rome. Examine the food that was cooked and served in high-ranking ecclesiastical households, whether at banquets or more informal meals. We will also examine the forms of presentation and etiquette expected at table.

By the end of this taster course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the role of food in elite households in 16th-century Rome.
  • Assess the importance of meals and etiquette.
  • Place the history of 16-century food in Rome in a wider historical context.

History of Food: 16th-century Rome

Room G36A, Paterson's Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh
Start date
2 hours
Day(s) and Times(s)
Mon 14 Aug, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Subject Area
Lucinda Byatt
Room G36A, Paterson's Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh
Time of Day

The two-hour course will cover a range of issues arising from an overview of several household manuals printed in Rome in the sixteenth century. These will include a brief look at the structure of the households of these princes of the Church, before turning to questions concerning the quantities of food required and what recipes were used throughout the year. We will also examine the service of food, including carving, and the development of table etiquette.

Discussion focused on historical sources.

Core Readings

Albala, Ken, 2002. Eating Right in the Renaissance. Oakland: University of California Press

Berger, Harry, 2000. The Absence of Grace: Sprezzatura and Suspicion in two Renaissance Courtesy Books, Stanford: Stanford University Press

Dean, Trevor, 1995. ‘The Courts’, The Journal of Modern History 67, Supplement: The Origins of the State in Italy, 1300-1600, S136-151

Guerzoni, G., 1999. ‘Liberalitatis Magnificentia, Splendor: The Classic Origins of Italian Renaissance Lifestyles’, History of Political Economics, 31: 332-78

Partner, Peter, 1976. Renaissance Rome, 1500-1559: A Portrait of a Society, Oakland: University of California Press

Della Casa, Giovanni, 1958. Galateo, or, the Book of manners. Translated by R. S. Pine-Coffin, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Class Handouts

A handout will be provided.

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