Living History Lectures ~ Tames Alan

Historical, educational, hysterical. One costumed woman tells you like it WAS.

Random Historical Facts: Renaissance

Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, brought the Spanish fashion of eating salads with the main meal to England.

Posted 02/15/2011

During the Renaissance, most people slept on the rushes strewn on the floor of the great hall. You knew you were the guest of honor if they left the table set up, so you could sleep above the rest of the people and the vermin infesting the rushes.

Posted 08/01/2012

When the nobility of the Renaissance sat down to eat there was one plate and one cup for every two people, and even though they were provide with a two-pronged fork, spoon, and knife, most elected to eat with their fingers.

Posted 10/01/2012

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when one entered the eating hall, someone would be standing there with a bowl of bread and a bowl of salt. Each diner ripped off a piece of bread, dipped it in the salt and ate it to turn away any bad spirits that might have followed them from the church graveyard.

Posted 10/15/2014

During the Renaissance, part of a teacher’s education was to be taught how to flog a student.

Posted 09/01/2016

The plague of 1563 was so severe that the city authorities of London started to compile bills of mortality, recording the numbers of people who died in each parish. This marked the beginning of official health statistics.

Posted 01/15/2017

During the Renaissance, handkerchiefs measured 12 to 15 in. A smaller variety of 4 to 5 inches were usually given as presents by women to men as love tokens.

Posted 02/15/2017

Male literacy increased from about 10% in 1500 to about 25% in 1600. Female literacy went from less than 1% to about 10%.

Posted 09/01/2017

The term "pin money" comes from the 1500s when a woman's garment had pieces literally pinned on (the stomacher in particular) with small straight pins. Some invariably fell out, so a husband provided his wife with a small amount of money to replenish her pin stock - thus her pin money.

Posted 12/01/2017


In 1588, sailors in England's Royal Navy got one pound of biscuits and one gallon of beer per day as their rations.

Posted 05/15/2018

In Stratford in the 1560s there were an average of 63 children baptized every year and 43 children buried. Child mortality was higher in town because of the spread of diseases, but even in rural areas, 21% of children died before they reached their 10th birthday, two-thirds of them in their first year of life.

Posted 01/15/2019

Once Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean, he sailed for 98 days before reaching any habitable land.

Posted 04/01/2018

During the Renaissance, the bright red dye called Scarlet used to dye broadcloth came from Kermes; a parasitic insect that lives on evergreen oaks in the Mediterranean and which, when pregnant, is killed with vinegar, dried in the sun, and open to extract it's wormlike larvae. When rolled into little balls called grains and soaked in water, these produce a bright red dye called grains, hence the word ingrained and, in connection with the worms, Vermilion.

Posted 12/01/2018

During the Renaissance, 25% to 30% of all marriages were a remarriage.

Posted 05/01/2019

In 1564 the king of France, Charles IX, issued the Edict of Roussillon declaring that henceforth the year would always begin on January 1, not March 25 or Christmas or Easter. Venice, the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden had already shifted to the system by 1560; the Low Countries followed suit in the 1570s and 1580s; and Scotland also did so in 1600. This was most confusing for those living in Burwick, on the English-Scottish border, because England still started the year on March 25. Between January 1 and March 25 each year, the Scottish date was one year greater than the English one.

Posted 01/01/2020

One of the very few innovations that made the Renaissance game of football more like modern day rugby, apart from the medieval version, is that it is now played with an inflated leather ball rather than a pig's bladder filled with peas.

Posted 02/01/2020

During the Renaissance a man’s doublet could include as much as four to six pounds of bombast, made from rags, cotton, horsehair, or bran.

Posted 05/15/2020

In 1587, the first treatise on swimming, by Edward Digby, a fellow at Saint John's College, Cambridge, was published. It provided simple instructions for swimming safely, cheaply, and healthily. In 1595, it was translated into English by Christopher Middleton.

Posted 08/15/2020

In England, tennis, played in indoor courts, was so popular that £1,699 pounds worth of tennis balls were imported in the year 1559 to 1560

Posted 02/01/2021

Malaria, which the Elizabethan referred to as ague or fever, killed thousands in the marshy areas in 16th century England. No one suspected that it had anything to do with mosquitoes; rather people believed it was the corruption of air rising from the low-lying dank marshes, hence the term mal (bad)-aria (air).n.

Posted 04/15/2021