The Economics Of Wine During The Tudor Monarchy

The line of rulers with the surname Tudor ruled England throughout the Tudor era. Even now, many still refer to them by that moniker. The Battle of Bosworth Field, in which Henry Tudor defeated Richard III, is commonly seen as the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.

The conclusion of the Wars of the Roses allowed Henry VII to accede to the throne of England and take the title of king. Henry VII and Elizabeth of York had seven children. Their oldest child, Arthur the Prince of Wales married Catherine of Aragon. She was the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Argon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. However, Arthur was never able to become king as he died in 1502 before he could fulfill his ambition.

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Because the water was not deemed safe to drink throughout the Tudor period, ale was the preferred beverage. At this time the alcoholic concentration of beer was lower than it is today. Additionally, wine was a popular beverage among the country’s upper classes, most of which was imported from other countries in Europe. Although a small amount of wine was sourced from vineyards in the south of England.[1]

Henry VIII’s Legendary Hospitality

The custom of pouring wine down public fountains during celebrations was common throughout the Tudor period. An example of the monarch’s philanthropy was displayed for the population, most of whom would have been drinking beer.

Tudor Monarchy

Figure 1. Henry VIII

Hampton Court has recreated a 16th-century wine fountain to give visitors a taste of Henry VIII’s legendary hospitality. The dispenser is based on the “Field of the Cloth of Gold” image in the palace. All week long, on weekends and holidays, wine may be purchased straight from the fountain’s faucet by anybody visiting Base Court.

Tudor Monarchy

Figure 2. The Cloth of Gold Painting

When Hampton Court functioned as Henry VIII’s pleasure palace, he drank a lot of beer and wine, as shown by the enormous cellars. Spectacular parties and feasts kept guests entertained at this place.

Tudor Institutions and Wine Consumption

Early Modern organizations, including the court, church, and tavern, drank wine throughout the Tudor period. The consumption of wine in English social gatherings grew along with the growth of these institutions. As depicted in popular culture, the extravagant lifestyle of the English court entailed vast quantities of wine.

This fee, known as a “right of passage,” allowed him to get his supply by taking one cask from each side of the ship’s mast.However, in many situations, he claimed a far more significant number of barrels of wine.

A large quantity of wine was included in the king’s prize for his court, which represented a considerable portion of the costs for courtly banquets. While this lifestyle lasted for most of the Interregnum, the last few years were marked by an increasing reliance on technology. During the Restoration period, a monarchical court and its culture were resurrected. Consequently, there was a constant presence of wine appreciation in court life throughout the era.[6]

Tudor Monarchy

Figure 3. Tudor’s Court with Wine Fountain

A Tudor institution that required a lot of wine consumption was the church. As part of the Catholic Church’s rituals wine must be drunk during Mass. Despite the Protestant Reformation’s turbulence, wine remained an important part of English culture’s religious life. Even when England split from the Catholic Church, English churches continued to celebrate Mass with wine. While England underwent major doctrinal changes throughout Tudor and Stuart times, the wine remained an important part of society because of its religious significance and social acceptability.[7]

Figure 4. The Tudor Church

The bar was the second most popular place to drink wine. Bars were subject to a strict set of laws enforced by the Vintners’ Guild, which governed wine storage, price, serving vessels, and other facets of the company. Wines from all over the world were not kept in plenty in Taverner’s homes because, at the time, anybody who drank white wine, claret wine, or red wine was not authorized to sell any other kind of wine.[8]

To a large extent, this cultural preference for alcohol resulted from societal conventions that discouraged water consumption. A combination of poor sewage infrastructure and the widespread belief that drinking alcohol is good for you led to water supply contamination. Foods and beverages that dried and warmed the body were also essential in the cold and rainy conditions of England.

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On this day

April 6, 1605: An Englishman named John Stowe was killed. On the subject of bar wine limits, he authored a lengthy article. When it came to the early Tudor era, taverns couldn’t keep or sell a variety of wines from diverse varietals or regions together. Still, his observations shed insight on this issue. His survey of London is often regarded as his most significant contribution.[9] Thus, he believed the Tudor rulers were more accountable for worshipping wine than anything else.

Want to read more? Try these books!

The Tudors- The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty Tudor History- A Captivating Guide to the Tudors, the Wars of the Roses, the Six Wives of Henry VIII and the Life of Elizabeth I (Key Periods in England'...

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[1] André Simon, “The wine trade of England, past and present.” (a lecture delivered at Vintners’ Hall, 20th November 1911, London), 16.

[2] Susan Rose, The Wine Trade in Medieval Europe: 1000-1500. (London: Bloomsbury, 2011), 51.

[3] André Simon, History of the Wine Trade in England, Volume 1 (London: Wyman and Sons, 1906), 6 298-9

[4] Simon, “The wine trade of England, past and present,” 24-5.

[5] Susan Doran and Glenn Richardson, ed., Tudor England and its Neighbors (New York: Palgrave 10 Macmillan, 2005).

[6] John Shovlin, “War and Peace: Trade, International Competition, and Political Economy” in 12 Mercantilism Reimagined. ed. Philip Stern and Carl Wennerlind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

[7] C.G. A. Clay, Economic Expansion and Social Change: England 1500-1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge 17 University Press, 1984), 104.

[8] Charles Ludington, The Politics of Wine in Britain (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 2.

[9] Catherine Pitt, The Wine Trade in Bristol in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (Bristol: University of 20 Bristol, 2006), 38-44.

Categories: This Day in Wine History | Articles, Wine History In-DepthTags: , By Published On: September 5, 2022Last Updated: February 27, 2024

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