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An army of blue-blooded gannets….?

RII procession - 1

One hears about the dreadful expense occurred by the nobles who played host to various monarchs. But grand houses weren’t the only destinations for our perambulating kings and queens. For instance, in January 1398, on his way to Parliament in Shrewsbury, Richard II travelled with his young French wife, five dukes, four earls, three bishops, and a French chamberlain.

RII procession - 4

If the queen was with him, then so too would be her ladies, and the ladies and servants of the noblemen. And heaven knows how many others in the household of all these personages. To say nothing of all the men-at-arms, archers and so on.

RII procession - 2

Not Richard II, I know, but it gives an idea of the never-ending column.

This enormous horde descended upon Lilleshall Abbey after dinner on 24th January. (Phew, good timing—one less expense at least!) They stayed all the following day, and departed for Shrewsbury on 26th. I wonder if the abbey food stores echoed with emptiness? And long would it take to replenish the shelves and cellars left bare by this army of blue-blooded gannets?

RII procession - 3

Let’s hope, for the abbey’s sake, that it was a long time before a monarch descended upon it again!

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One thought on “An army of blue-blooded gannets….?

  1. sighthound6 on said:

    How the court was fed might be a study in itself. We are talking anything up to 1000 persons, include many who would expect the best, multiple courses with multiple dishes.

    Of course there was that thing called “purveyance” where court officials went to market and took whatever they wanted at a price they set. They did not pay in cash either (normally) but in tallies that could be cashed at the Exchequer (if you were lucky and there was money in it.)

    This system did not serve to make any king popular and the scope for corruption is blindingly obvious. Also if you were some guy in (say) York or Chester, and you had to go down to Westminster to get your cash (if you were lucky) you would not be a happy bunny. I suspect (don’t know) that your best hope would be to sell your tallies to someone at a discount and take the loss.


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