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A few words on the natures and habits of the European peoples from Andrew Boorde who travelled about Europe in the early sixteenth century.

Printed in An Introduction to Knowledge, Frederick J. Furnivall, ed.

(London, 1870)


p. 147, regarding the people of Flanders:

Flanders is a plentiful country of fish and flesh and wild fowl. There shall a man be cleanly served at his table, and well ordered and used for meat and drink and lodging. The country is plain, and somewhat sandy. The people be gentle, but the men be great drinkers; and many of the women be virtuous and well disposed .... In Flanders ... the people will eat the hinder loins of frogs, and will eat toadstools.

p. 149, regarding the people of Holland:

In Holland is a good town called Amsterdam; and yet right many of the men of the country will quaff till they be drunk, and will piss under the table where they sit. They be gentle people, but they do not like Scottish men. The women in the church be devout, and often are confessed in the church openly, laying their heads in the priest's lap, for priests there do sit when they hear confessions, and so they do in many provinces annexed to [Holland]. The women be modest, and in the towns and the churches they cover themselves and part of their face and head with their mantles ...

pp. 156-157, regarding the people of 'Low-Germany', or the Netherlands:

The people be gentle and kind-hearted. The worst fault that they have: many will be drunken; and when they fall to quaffing, they will have in divers places a tub or a great vessel standing under the board [table], to piss in, or else they will defile the house, for they will piss as they do sit, and the other while the one will piss in another's shoes. They do love salt butter that is resty, and barrelled butter.

p. 160, regarding the people of Germany:

The people of High Almain [Germany], they be rude and rusticall, and very boisterous in their speech, and humbly in their apparel .... they do feed grossly, and they will eat maggots as fast as we will eat comfits. They have a way to breed them in cheese. Maidens there in certain places shall drink no other drink than water, unto the time she be married; if she do, she is taken for a common woman .... the country is plentifull of apples and walnuts; the mountains is very barren of all manner of victuals ...

p. 163. of the people of Denmark:

The Danes have been good warriors; but for their poverty I do marvel how they did once get England; they be subtle-witted, and they do prowl much about to get prey. They have fish and wildfowl sufficient. Their lodgings and their apparel is very simple and bare:

In my apparel I was never nice,
I am content to wear rough fryce. [frieze]
(Boorde occasionally wrote little bits of doggerel to illustrate his case.)

pp. 168-169, of the people of Poland:

The people of the country of Poland be rude [Boorde means simple], and homely in their manners and fashions, and many of them have learned craftiness in their buying and selling; and in the country there is much poverty and evil fare in certain places. The people do eat much honey in those parts, they be peacable men; they love no war, but love to rest in a hole skin.

p. 197, of the people of Lombardy:

In Lombardy there be many vengable cur dogs, the which will bite a man by the legs if he [be not] ware. They will eat frogs, guts and all. Adders, snails, and mushrooms, be good meat there. In divers places of Italy and Lombardy they will put rosemary into their vessels of wine.

pp. 198-199, of the people of Spain:

Spain is a very poor country .... I know nothing within the country of riches, but corn. Biscay and Castile is under Spain. These countries be [full] of wine and corn, but scarce of victuals; a man shall not get meat in many places for no money; other while you shall get kid, and bacon, and salt sardines, which is a little fish as big as a pilchard .... And all your wine shall be kept and carried in goat skins, and the hair shall be inward, and you shall draw your wine out of one of the legs of the skin. When you go to dinner and supper, you must fetch your bread in one place, and your wine in another place, and your meat in another place; and hogs in many places shall be under your feet at the table, and lice in your bed.

p. 200, of the people of Castile:

Castile is a kingdom lying betwixt Spain and Biscay; it is a very barren country, full of poverty. There be many fair and proper castles, plenty of apples and cider, and there be water mills to forge iron, and there be mountains and hills, and evil fare, [and] lodging; the best fare be in priests' houses, for they do keep tippling houses .... if any man, or woman, or child, do die, at their burying, and many other times after that they be buried, they will make an exclamation saying, "why didst thou die? haddest not thou good friends? mightest not thou have had gold and silver, and riches and good clothing? for why diddest thou die?" crying and clattering many such foolish words; and commonly every day they will bring to church a cloth, or a pillow carpet ["pilo carpit"], and cast over the grave, and set over it, bread, wine, and candlelight; and then they will pray, and make such a foolish exclamation, as I said afore, that all the church shall ring; this they will do although their friends died seven year before, and this foolish use is used in Biscay, Castile, Spain, Aragon and Navarre.

Please also visit Old London Maps on the web as many of the maps
and views available there have plans and depictions of gardens from
the medieval period through to the late nineteenth century.

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