King Richard III Was A Total Booze Hound: Three Litres A Day
AT least one of the previous Kings of England was a complete booze hound, so we’re told. King Richard III, whose twisted skeleton was found under a car park, drank three whole litres of booze a day. They’ve worked this out by analysing dem’ bones and looking at what the micro-structure tells us about what he ate and drank.
The thing is, there’s not actually all that much surprise about it:
Not only that but the monarch, dubbed a “bunch-backed toad” by Shakespeare, was also partial to a lavish banquet, with research showing he ate exotic meat including swan, crane, heron and egret.
For the time it wasn’t actually all that exotic. Swans were “royal” birds, as they are still today and egrets and heron were common enough on the tables of those who had hunting rights. Most of which still belonged to the King actually. It’s worth noting that there were no pheasants in the UK at that time (they’re later imports) and no turkeys (which really come from America so none of those pre-Columbus) and the chicken of the day was a particularly scrawny beast.
Much meat still came from hunting and those are the large birds indigenous to Britain so it’s not all that surprising that rich people ate them.
As to the three litres of booze, sadly they don’t mean he was downing three bottles of gin a day. Rather, something like a bottle of wine a day and a few pints of beer. And that wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for the time either. Drinking something fermented was going to be safer than trusting the water supply and we’ve various records showing that nuns had an allowance of 8 pints of beer a day. And it wasn’t just for liquid either: beer’s a good way of getting calories out of barley and into humans. It was a basic, nay essential, part of the diet. It also wasn’t all that alcoholic, being known as “small beer” (about the strength of a shandy today perhaps).