Medieval & Early Modern Household and Conduct Texts

Paul Lacroix, Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period  (in English translation, London and New York, ?1874)

Isidore of Seville (c. 560-636), Etymologiae, Book XX: De penu et instrumentis domesticis et rusticis (Latin, early 7th cent.)   From the edition of Isidori Hispalensis Episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum libri XX, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford 1911).  This final section of Isidore’s etymological encyclopedia discusses tableware and kitchenware, other household furnishings, vehicles, farm and garden tools, and horse equipment.

Charlemagne, Capitulary De villis (Latin, early 9th cent.)  In a modern English translation by James Harvey Robinson (1904).

Asnapium: An Inventory of One of Charlemagne’s Estates (Latin, c. 811) In a modern English translation by Frederic Austin Ogg (1907).

Walahfrid Strabo, Hortulus (Latin, c. 842-848)  A Carolingian monk’s description of his garden.  This website provides the original Latin text with a clickable modern German translation; the text can be searched for references to individual plants or can be read straight through.

Monasteriales indicia: Monastic sign-language (English, mid 11th cent.)  127 signs (including signs for food items and tableware), used by Benedictine monks at times of the day when speech was forbidden, from the Old English text in British Library MS Cotton Tiberius A. III, discussed by Juan C. Conde-Silvestre, in “The code and context of Monasteriales Indicia: a semiotic analysis of late Anglo-Saxon monastic sign language,” Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: International Review of English Studies, 36 (Jan. 2001), 145-169.

Dental hygiene recipes from a variety of sources (11th-17th cent.)  Eleven recipes for mouthwashes, teeth-whiteners, breath-fresheners, and toothpastes, in modern English translation.

Burgundio Pisano (trans.), Liber de vindemiis (Latin, 2nd half of 12th cent.)  Latin translation of a Greek treatise on harvesting grapes, winemaking, and the care and emendation of wine, by a Pisan who spent several years in Constantinople.  Edited by Francesco Buonamici in Annali delle Università Toscane, 28 (1908).

The Pipe Roll of the Bishopric of Winchester (1208-9) (Latin), ed. Hubert Hall (1903); and  The Pipe Roll of the Bishopric of Winchester (1210-11) (Latin), ed. N. R. Holt (1873).  Read these entire volumes, or click here for an English translation of the entry for the manor of Downton, Wiltshire (1208-9) from Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History (1936; rpt 1965).

Henri d’Andeli, La bataille des vins (French, early 13th cent.)  Poem describing the respective merits of various wines (Ms. Paris, B.N. fr. 837, ff. 231-232v; and Ms. Berne, Bibliothèque municipale, 113, f. 200v) From the edition by H. Héron (1881).  Click here for a partial parallel translation into modern French, by Bernard Gineste.

John of Garland, Dictionarius (Latin, early 13th cent.)  Not a household or conduct text, but a manual for teaching Latin, by John of Garland, an English teacher of Latin grammar in Paris.  He wrote it sometime between 1218 and 1229, mostly in the form of a walking-tour of Paris, and it contains numerous references to shops and vendors of all kinds, including food-sellers, as well as descriptions of household furnishings.  Garland added a commentary with French glosses around 1229-30 while in Toulouse.  The Latin text here is based on the edition by Thomas Wright in A Volume of Vocabularies (1857), with a modern English translation by Barbara Blatt Rubin.

Selected correspondence of Ralph de Neville (Latin, early 13th cent.)  Sample letters from the extensive surviving correspondence of Ralph de Neville (d. 1244), Bishop of Chichester and Chancellor of Henry III, in the English translations published by W. H. Blaauw in 1850, and  with some Latin transcriptions by Blaauw and by W. W. Shirley.  Among them are letters concerning the management of Neville’s estates and the provisioning of his houses.  See also Additional correspondence of Ralph de Neville.

Guillaume de la Villeneuve, Les crieries de Paris (French, 13th cent.)  Poem recording the cries of the street-sellers of Paris, many offering raw and cooked foods (Ms. Paris, B.N. fr. 837, ff. 246-7).   Original text, from the edition of E. Barbazan et D.Méon (1808), with a modern French translation by Madeleine Jeay.  Click here for an online dictionary to this text and to other French poems of the 12th-16th centuries.  (If the Hyperlistes site is unavailable, click here for another copy of the poem .)

Bishop Robert Grosseteste’s Rules (Anglo-Norman and Latin, 1240 x 1242)  English translation by Elizabeth Lamond (in Walter of Henley’s Husbandry, 1890), of the household rule written by Bishop Grosseteste for the widowed Countess of Lincoln.  Click here for another copy.

L’ornement des dames/Ornatus mulierum (Anglo-Norman, 13th cent.)  Extracts, in modern English translation, from a collection of beauty recipes  (Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 1470, ff. 276r-279v) edited by Pierre Ruelle (1967).

La bataille de Caresme et de Charnage (French, 13th cent.)  Poem describing a ‘battle’ between Lent and Carnival (Paris, BnF Ms. Fr. 837, ff. 21-24).  From the edition by Grégoire Lozinski (1933).

D’un mercier (French, 13th cent.)  Anonymous poem describing a mercer’s wares (Ms. Paris, BnF fr. 19152, f. 42v-43).  Original text from the edition of Philippe Ménard (1970), with a modern French translation by Madeleine Jeay.

Diet rules (Dutch, 1252)  From a manuscript in the Bodleian Library (Junius 83), edited by A. Van Loey (Middelnederlands Leerboek, 1947), and translated into English by Eli Steenput.

Assize of bread and ale (Assisa panis et cervisie) (Latin, 1256)  In English translation, from Statutes of the Realm, ed. A. Luders, 11 vols. (London, 1810-28), vol. 1, pp. 199-200 (taken from British Library, MS Cotton Claudius D. ii, fol. 252v).  For the date of the assize and discussion, see James Davis, “Baking for the Common Good: A Reassessment of the Assize of Bread in Medieval England,” Economic History Review, 57:3 (2004), 465-502.

Household account of Eleanor, Countess of Leicester (Latin, 1265)  From the edition by T. H. Turner in Manners and Household Expenses of England in the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1841).  Eleanor de Montfort’s household account, from 19 February to 29 August 1265, is on pp. 1-85, with Notes and Appendices on pp. 86-92.

Walter de Bibbesworth, Le Tretiz (Anglo-Norman, c. 1250-1300)   A verse treatise on country life and household duties, designed to instruct English children (“beaus duz enfauns,” line 183) in French vocabulary.  Edited by William Rothwell (1990), from Cambridge University Library MS Gg. 1. 1.

Bonvesin de la Riva of Milan (c. 1240 – c. 1315), De quinquaginta curialitatibus ad mensam (Italian [Milanese], later 13th cent.)  Click on “Les bonnes manières de table” for this extract from De la Riva’s verse guide to table manners, in a modern French translation (“Les 50 contenances de table”).  Click here and scroll down for the original text .

Roman de la rose: Duenna’s advice on table manners for young women (French, late 13th cent.)   From Jean “Clopinel” de Meun’s continuation of the poem by Guillaume de Lorris, in English translation by F. S. Ellis, The Romance of the Rose (1900).

Bishop Grosseteste’s Rules, Walter of Henley, Seneschaucy, and Husbandry (Anglo-Norman and Latin, c. 1240-1300)   Extracts, in English translation,  from four English treatises on household and estate administration, edited by Elizabeth Lamond in Walter of Henley’s Husbandry (1890).  Click here for a glossary of technical terms used in these four treatises.

De l’Oustillement au villain (French, 13th cent.)  This anonymous poem (from Ms. Paris, B.N. fr. 837, fol. 119v) includes a description of the furnishings and utensils to be found in a peasant’s house.

Walter of Henley (Anglo-Norman, late 13th cent.)  English translation, from  Elizabeth Lamond’s edition (1890).  Click here for another copy.

Seneschaucie (Anglo-Norman, late 13th cent.)  English translation, from Elizabeth Lamond’s edition (1890).  Click here for another copy.

Husbandry (Anglo-Norman, late 13th cent.)  English translation,  from Elizabeth Lamond’s edition (1890). Click here for another copy.

Payments made by the executors of Eleanor of Castile, Queen of England (Latin, 1291-1293)  From the edition by T. H. Turner in Manners and Household Expenses of England in the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1841).  The payments by Queen Eleanor’s executors are on pp. 93-145.

Household expenses of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, 1313-14 (English, 1603)  From John Stow’s Survay of London (2nd edn, 1603).

Antonio Pucci [c. 1310-1388], Proprietà di Mercato Vecchio (Italian, 14th cent.)  Pucci’s poem describes the offerings of the Old Market of Florence.

Geoffroi des Nés, La Desputoison du vin et de l’iaue (French, ?14th cent.)  Poem on the relative merits of wine and water (Ms. Paris, BnF fr. 24432, ff. 26v-29), from the edition of Achille Jubinal (1839).

Account roll (compotus) of the manor of Presteigne (Latin, 1384-5)  Includes a photograph and Latin transcription of the beginning of  the roll, with a modern English translation.

Eustache Deschamps, Ballade 350 (French, late 14th cent.)     Poem lamenting the unpleasant fare of Lent.  Edited by Queux de Saint-Hilaire (1878), vol. 3, pp. 75-76, from MS. Paris, B.N. fr. 840, f.116. (If the above link does not work, click here for another copy of the text.)

Eustache Deschamps, Pour les nouveaulx mariez et de leur mesnage  (Ballade 1451, French, late 14th cent. )
Poem describing newlyweds’ household goods and furnishings, ed. Gaston Raynaud (1891-1901),  vol. VIII,  pp. 137-38.

A Collection of Ordinances and Regulations for the Government of the Royal Household . . . Also, Receipts in Ancient Cookery (London: Society of Antiquaries, 1790)  Valuable collection of royal household regulations from the reign of Edward III to that of William and Mary, together with an edition of British Library, MS Arundel 334.

Some medieval English medical recipes (English, late 14th- early 15th cent.)   A selection of heath and beauty recipes, from British Library, Harley MS 2378.  Transcribed by Martha Carlin.

The Ménagier of Paris: The art of gardening (French, c. 1393)  English translation from Eileen Power’s influential but incomplete and now superseded edition (The Goodman of Paris, 1928), pp. 195-204(For an authoritative English translation of the entire work, see The Good Wife’s Guide (Le Menagier de Paris): A Medieval Household Book, trans. Gina L. Greco and Christine M. Rose (Cornell University Press, 2009).

Treasure roll of Richard II (French, 1398-9)  Website describing a detailed inventory of the English king’s jewels and plate, made at the very end of his reign.

Expenses of Aragonese ambassadors in England (Latin, 1415).   Food, lodging and travel accounts, in English translation, from Analogues of Chaucer’s Pilgrimage, ed. R. E. G. Kirk and F. J. Furnivall (1908), pp. 5-7.

 A Generall rule to teche euery man that is willynge for to lerne . . . to serve a lorde or mayster (English, 15th cent.)   How to serve meals in a great household, from British Library, MS Add. 37969, ff. 2-8, edited by R. W. Chambers (1914).

William Wey, What to bring on a sea-voyage to Jerusalem (English, 15th cent.)  From The Itineraries of William Wey (1857).

Will of Joan Buckland, of Edgcott, Northamptonshire (English and Latin, 1450)  This is Document 1 in an online collection of 63 wills from the diocese of Lincoln, 1450-1544.  Buckland’s will includes a detailed list of her household effects.  From Andrew Clark, ed., Lincoln Diocese Documents, 1450-1544 (1914).

Frederick J. Furnivall, ed., Manners and Meals in Olden Time [also known as] The babees book (English, Latin, and French, 15th-16th cent.) The full title of  this collection is: The babees book, Aristotle’s A B C, Urbanitatis, Stans puer ad mensam, The lytille childrenes lytil boke, The bokes of nurture of Hugh Rhodes and John Russell, Wynkyn de Worde’s Boke of keruynge, The booke of demeanor, The boke of curtasye, Seager’s Schoole of vertue, &c. &c. with some French and Latin poems on like subjects, and some forewords on education in early England (Early English Text Society, original series, vol. 32, 1868).  The above link is to a digitized version of this book that includes convenient hotlinks to individual texts, but which omits portions of the volume, including Part II.  For a complete version of the book, click here.

Urbanitatis (English, c.1460)  Conduct manual for boys in verse,  from the edition of  Frederick J. Furnivall in The Babees Book (1868), pp. 13-15.

John Russell, Book of Nurture (English, c. 1460)  Extract, in modern English translation, concerning the duties of the panter, butler, and carver in a noble household.  From The Babees’ Book: Medieval Manners for the Young: Done into Modern English From Dr. Furnivall’s Texts, by Edith Rickert.

Household expenses of Sir John Howard, later Duke of Norfolk (English, 1462-1469)  From the edition by T. H. Turner in Manners and Household Expenses of England in the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1841).  Howard’s household accounts are on pp. 149-621.

Olivier de la Marche, “Le service du vin,” from L’état de la maison du duc Charles de Bourgogne dit le Hardy (French, c. 1467-77.)  Click on “Le service du vin selon Olivier de la Marche” for a modern French translation by Bruno Laurioux of this extract from De la Marche’s Mémoires.

Recipes for making colored wax and ink (English, 15th cent.)  From Huntington Library, MS HM 1336.

Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York (English, March 1502 – March 1503); and Wardrobe Accounts of Edward IV (English, April – September 1480)   Edited by Nicholas Harris Nicolas (1830).

The Little Children’s Little Book (English, c. 1480)   Guide to manners for boys, from The Babees Book, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall (1868), pp. 16-24.

Un dittié des choses qui faillent en menage et en mariage (French, ?15th cent.) Poem on the things that one needs in a household (Ms. Paris, BnF fr. 12483, ff. 217-218).  Original text from the edition of Achille Jubinal (1842), with a modern French translation by Madeleine Jeay.

Watelet de tous mestiers (French, ?15th cent.) Poem on the various trades and crafts (Versailles, Bibliothèque municipale 4 Mi 162).  Original text from the edition of Anatole de Montaiglon et James de Rothschild (1878), with a modern French translation by Madeleine Jeay.

The Babees’ Book: Medieval Manners for the Young (English, 15th-16th cent.)  The greater part of Furnivall’s Babees Book and Queene Elizabethes Achademy, in a modern English translation by Edith Rickert and L. J. Naylor (1908).

“Ballad of a Tyrannical Husband” (English, 15th cent.)  A farmer exchanges chores with his wife.

Les honneurs de la table (French, 1491)  Photograph of a manuscript  of the second of three known French verse guides to table manners, inserted into the end of a book of hours written in 1491.  Paris, Département de manuscrits, Rothschild VI. 3. 6.

The Treatyse of Fishing with an Angle (English, 1496)  The former attribution of this treatise to Dame Juliana Berners, c. 1456, is no longer tenable, since a fragment of the text survives in a manuscript of the mid 14th century. The modern English translation offered here includes illustrations of fishing rods and other fishing implements from Wynkyn de Worde’s printed edition of 1496.  Click here for a  transcript of the edition of 1561 ; and here for  another modern English translation.

Les Cris de Paris (French, c. 1500)  Photographs of four of the collection of 18 colored woodcuts illustrating the cries of the street-sellers of Paris (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, RES EST-264).

The Boke of Kervynge (English, 1508)  Treatise, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, on carving and serving food, with recipes for hippocras and sauces, seasonal menus, and the duties of various servants.

Hans Brask, Calendarium Oeconomicum (Swedish, 1513-27?)    (If this link fails, click here for another version, or here for an archived version.)  Brask (1464-1538) became bishop of Linköping in 1513.  The excerpts given here from his household manual list seasonal menus for his household and seasonal duties of his servants, month by month; other excerpts list menus for New Year’s week (also, click here for a fuller archived version), and servants’ rations (click here for an archived version).  If, when you click on links to this site, you are transferred to its main menu, you can find the materials listed here by clicking on “Bills of Fare” and “Library.” Edited by Martin Skjoldebrand, with English translations, from an edition of the original manuscript published by Per Kylander in “Calendarium oeconomicum avskrivet ur en gammal på Linköpings bibliotek förvarad hushållsbok (fr. 1513–27) efter biskop Brask,” Linköpings bibliotheks handlingar, I (1793), 263-74.  See also Hans Hildebrand, ed., “Matordningen i biskop Hans Brasks hus,” Konglike Vitterhets Historie och Antiqvitets Akademiens Måanadsblad, 157 (1885), pp. 1-21, and 159 (1885), pp. 141-2.  See also a summary of the seasonal menus and tasks by Horace Marryat (1862).

Inventory of John Asserby (English, 1527) From Andrew Clark, ed., Lincoln Diocese Documents, 1450-1544 (1914).  (Click on “SIXTY-THREE LINCOLN DIOCESE DOCUMENTS” and either search for “Asserby” or scroll down to document XXIII.)

Master [John] Fitzherbert’s Book of Husbandry (English, first edition, 1523)   A housewife’s duties.  (For a similar extract  from Fitzherbert,
click here.)

Rolls of expenses of Sir John Nevile of Chete for his daughters’ weddings and at assizes (English, 1526-30)  From Samuel Pegge’s edition of The Forme of Curye (1780).  Click here for a description by Pegge of the rolls (pp. 163-164).  The expenses are for: the wedding of Nevile’s daughter Mary to Gervas Clifton, 17 Jan.  1530 (pp. 165-170); the marriage of Nevile’s daughter Elizabeth to Roger Rockley, 14 Jan. 1526 (pp. 171-178);  Sir John’s expenses as sheriff of Yorkshire at the Lent assizes, 19 Hen. VIII (pp. 179-182); and Sir John’s expenses at the Lammas assizes, 20 Hen. VIII (pp. 183-185).

Expenses of the anniversary feast of the Guild of the Holy Trinity, Luton (English, 1527-8)  From Samuel Pegge’s edition of The Forme of Curye (1780), pp. 186-188.

Hans Sachs, Ein Tischzucht (German, 1534). A poem on table manners, by the celebrated poet-shoemaker, Hans Sachs, with a modern English translation. For an image of the original printed poem, with its woodcut illustration, click here.

Hugh Rhodes, The Boke of Nurture and Schoole of good manners for man and for Chylde (English, 5th edn, 1577)   A courtesy book in verse by Hugh Rhodes, “of the Kinges Chappell” (fl. 1540).

Thomas Tusser, A hundreth good pointes of husbandrie (English, 1557)  Guide for farmers and their wives, listing each month’s labors.

New Year’s gifts received by Queen Elizabeth I, 1561-1600 (English)   Extracts from contemporary accounts, taken from John Nichols, ed., The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth (3 vols., 1823).

A London household’s dinner conversation, from The French Schoolmaster (French and English, 1573)  Excerpt from a French-English conversation manual, by Claudius Hollyband.

Manual de mujeres en el cual se contienen muchas y diversas recetas muy buenas (Spanish, 16th cent.)  Contains culinary, medicinal, and household recipes.  Click here for an  English translation of a selection of the recipes.

Sir Thomas Cockaine, A Short Treatise of Hunting (English, 1591)  How to hunt the fox, hare, roe, stag, buck, otter, and marten, with a brief description of signals to be sounded on the hunting horn.

Anthony Browne, Viscount Montague: “A Booke of Orders and Rules” (English, 1595)  Viscount Montague’s household ordinances, published by Sir Sibbald David Scott, Bart., in Sussex Archaeological Collections, 7 (1854), pp. 173-212.

Paul Hentzner, Description of Elizabeth I and her court at Greenwich in 1598 (Latin, 1612)  This extract, translated into English, describes the queen, her reception of visitors, and how her meals were served.   It is taken from Horace Walpole, ed., and Richard Bentley, trans., Paul Hentzner’s Travels in England During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1797), pp. 33-37.   Click here for the  complete text  of Hentzner’s Travels in England, together with Sir Robert Naunton’s Fragmenta Regalia (1797, rpt 1892).

“F.B.,” Rules . . . For Children to Write By (English, 1611)  Extract from a manual of penmanship, including recipes for making ink.

Ben Jonson, To Penshurst (English, c. 1616)  Poem praising the model household of the Sidneys at Penshurst Place, Kent.

John Taylor, The Praise of Hemp-Seed  (English, 1630)  Poem examining the uses of hemp-seed and the trades and industries that depended on its products, including those of the mercers, grocers, vintners, drapers, haberdashers, tailors, skinners, dyers, apothecaries,  comfit-makers, sailors, shoemakers, saddlers, and paper-makers.

Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton, The Compleat Angler (English, 1653 (Part I) and 1676 (Part II)

Thomas Barker, Barker’s Delight: or, The Art of Angling (English, 1659)  This is the second edition of Barker’s work; according to the title page it is “much enlarged.”  The full title reads: BARKER’S DELIGHT: OR, THE ART OF A N G L I N G.  Wherein are discovered many rare Secrets very necessary to be known by all that delight in that Recreation, both for catching the Fish, and dressing thereof.

Colonel Robert Venables, The Experienced Angler (English, 1662)  The full title reads:  The Experienced Angler: or Angling Improved.  Being A general Discourse of Angling; Imparting many of the aptest wayes and choicest Experiments for the taking of most sorts of Fish in Pond or River.

Hannah Woolley, The Gentlewoman’s Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex (English, 1675)   Begins with chapters on the education and deportment of women, and follows with culinary recipes, medicinal recipes, advice to servants, model letters, and witty dialogues.

Mary Evelyn, The Ladies Dressing-Room Unlock’d (English, 1690)  Delightful satire in verse of a guide to manners and fashion, including a glossary of terms concerning dress, by John Evelyn’s daughter. The full title reads: The Ladies Dressing-Room Unlock’d, and Her Toilette Spread, Together, with a Fop-Dictionary, and a Rare and Incomparable Receipt to Make Pig, or Puppidog-Water for the Face.

The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie, 1692-1733 (English)   Published by the Scottish Historical Society in 1911.