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Yesterday, I was reminded of the Einstein quote:

“I am neither clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.” – Albert Einstein

I am no Einstein, but I have an unquenchable hunger for learning at least a little bit about many, many things. I am truly a Jacki of All Trades and a Master of None, but the sting of learning about a vast number of things has been eliminated by the Internet and by the free online MOOCs that are offered from outstanding universities now. The exceptional movies that are currently being made are also a big educational help. Today, I want to share more of what I have learned about Elizabeth I and about the foods that were cooked during her reign.

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Elizabeth I ascended to the English throne in 1558, and she ruled until 1603, which was 17 years before the Pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower.

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The Pilgrims left England because of the religious persecution that was taking place there at that time. The Pilgrims would have lived in England during the rule of Elizabeth I, who was Protestant, and their parents or grandparents may have lived during the reign of Elizabeth I’s sister Mary Tudor I, who was Catholic. Some of my ancestors had estates where hidden rooms concealed the Catholic clergy and other of my ancestors were executed because they were Protestant. I love all of the British historical movies, like Elizabeth, The Borgias, The Tudors, Victoria, and The Crown, but when  I watch those movies, my lack of historical background frustrates me.  Fortunately, that is a small problem in the 21st Century. With a quick search on Google, I can bring myself up to speed on most historical questions, and I also participate in free MOOCs, or free online college courses, to help me fill in the gaps.

After I watched the 1998 movie Elizabeth, I dug out enough English history to understand a bit about the Catholic-Protestant conflict during Elizabeth’s reign and during that of her elder sister Mary.

Henry VIII’s first wife was Catherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and their child was Mary Tudor, I.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn.

Elizabethan England’s Protestantism Stemmed from Henry VIII’s Marriage to Anne Boleyn

  • The Pope refused Henry VIII’s request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church.
  • Henry VIII started the Protestant Church of England.
  • Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and she was Protestant, too.
  • Many people never accepted Elizabeth as Henry VIII’s legitimate heir.
  • When Anne Boleyn failed to produce a male heir, Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed.

Because Mary I believed Elizabeth I to be a threat to her throne, she imprisoned Elizabeth at the Tower of London.

For quite some time, I have known that Elizabeth I was imprisoned at the Tower of London, and I always assumed that The Tower of London was nothing more than a dark dungeon, but that is not at all true.

While I was participating in the free MOOC A History of Royal Food and Feasting, I discovered that the Tower of London is actually a full castle. Because it was a very secure castle, many prisoners were kept there, but even after Elizabeth I became the Queen of England, she remained at The Tower of London. It was her palace.

The Tower of London is actually a group of several towers, and the White Tower [pictured above] was built in the 11th century. It is situated on the Thames River.

I learned in the course A History of Royal Food and Feasting that Elizabeth I had a sweet tooth and through that course, I was able to form a picture of how Queen Elizabeth’s royal kitchen may have functioned.

A photograph of sugar ships

Sugar Ships – Image Credit FutureLearn

A photograph of a reenactment in a Tudor kitchen, with a cook carefully painting a small ship, made from sugar paste.Sugar Ship – Image Credit FutureLearn

“Sugar had been used within Henry’s kitchens, but the expansion of the world allowed this precious ingredient to be more readily accessible.

“Sugar was a status ingredient; it was more expensive than honey (which had long been used as a natural sweetener) because of the requirement for it to be imported. Sugar grows as a cane but would be imported in a ‘loaf’ form. The highest grade of these sugars were the fine, white sugars which could easily be melted into a liquid and came from Madeira; next came Barbary or Canary sugar; and finally a coarser brown sugar which required less rendering down but was, as a result, more difficult to work with. However, even this coarse sugar was expensive; this was not an ingredient which all of Elizabethan England would have access to.”Image and Text Credit Future Learn Here

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In the 2007 movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Elizabeth is portrayed as being romantically interested in Raleigh, an explorer who had recently returned from The New World.

In the MOOC A History of Royal Food and Feasting, I learned about how the explorers enriched and expanded the types of foods that were available for cooking.

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I have prepared a very short history of the major players during the reign of Elizabeth I at jackikellum.com Here

Another free course to study the History of Royal Food and Feasting will begin in November. I talk about the royal kitchens during the reign of Henry VIII at jackikellum.com Here.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting Is More Than A Cooking Program. Because It Involves Footage from the Castles of five British Monarchs, It Is A Flavorful Way to Step Back Into England’s Royal Past.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting is part of the University of Reading’s free programming, and it can be accessed through a free MOOC offered by FutureLearn Here.

“From the Tudors to the 20th century you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists from the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces, and indulge in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces. We’ll take an intimate look behind the scenes at some of the most incredible palaces in England:”

  • Henry VIII at Hampton Court
  • Elizabeth I at the Tower of London
  • George I at Hampton Court Palace
  • George III at Kew Palace
  • Victoria at Kensington Palace

©Jacki Kellum September 17, 2017

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