Choral Evensong in Rochester NY, May 19 2013

Hope this PDF file uploads and displays correctly. Both my staff will be singing in a choral evensong service on May 19.

Please click the link to see the flyer.



We've been walking all over your books for hundreds of years!

We’ve been walking on your books for hundreds of years!

I’ve been asked about the photo of the book I’m sitting on. The book is in the State Archives of Dubrovnik, and I first saw the photo in a twitter message from @EmirOFilipovic (a medievalist on the faculty of the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia) to @erik_kwakkel (a medieval book historian at Leiden University in the Netherlands). My staff1 has been following Kwakkel for quite a while, now, because he posts lots of photos of old, old books, with clever comments. I sent a message to Mr. Filipovic asking permission to use his photo, but he hasn’t replied. I hope he doesn’t mind!

Update: Mr. Filipovic’s blog post about this photograph has additional information about the book and about the State Archives of Dubrovnik.

Update: Mr Filipovic has given permission to use the photo. Thank you, sir!

Lottie’s Birthday Banquet ~ Medieval Beverages

medieval banquet

Lottie’s Birthday Banquet

@Deaf_Lottie has just turned 18, and her friends are hosting a banquet in her honor. Some wonderful chefs are planning the meal at a medieval castle, and they were kind enough to allow me to select appropriate beverages. With the help of my Staff2 (he cooks) and Staff1 (with her passion for all things medieval and renaissance) I think we have something to suit everyone’s taste: mostly 14th century recipes, some slightly-out-of-period 15th c./16th c. items, and a few modern favorites I couldn’t bear to leave out.

Cold drinks

#1. Olde Feral Tom (medieval version)

a good strong ale

Olde Feral Tom

PERIOD: since beginning of recorded history / SOURCE: Encyclopedia Britannica
Strong ales have been part of the human experience since long before recorded history began. Our friends at the Cat and Trumpet found casks of their signature brew in a back room in their cellar, sealed up since the Hundred Years’ War.

#2. Red Wine

claret in gold goblet


PERIOD: Since the 11th c. | SOURCE: castle inventories
Claret, a red wine from Bordeaux, has been popular in England since the marriage of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquataine.

#3.White Wine

hock white wine


PERIOD: Since the 9th century | SOURCE: Royal household accounts
This white wine from Germany is served tonight in elegant goblets, family heirlooms from the 9th century.

#4. Vanilla Methyglin

vanilla mead

Vanilla Methyglin

This modern variation on a traditional mead recipe—vanilla beans simmered in a mixture of honey and water, then fermented with champagne yeast—is served at cellar temperature.

#5. Niptinis and Meowgaritas


Niptini / Meowgarita

And, of course, no anipal pawty would be complete without a Niptini or Meowgarita! Although these delightful beverages weren’t known in medieval England, our barktenders have offered to supply the cocktails.

#6. Cold Almond Milk

almond milk

Almond Milk

PERIOD: England, late 15th c. | SOURCE: MS Pepys 1047
To make cold milk of almonds: Put boiled water in a pot and do thereto add broken sugar or clean clarified honey so that it be somewhat sweet, and a little salt, and the almonds. Soak for 6-8 hours, then set it on the fire, and when it is at the boiling, skim it clean and then take it off and let it cool and strain it. Cast the almonds in a mortar and pound them small, then return to the same water and mix well. Put in a clean wine-skin, and chill in a cold stream.

#7. Lemon Drink

lemon drink

Lemon Drink

PERIOD: Spain, 13th c. / SOURCE: Anonymous Andalusian MS
Take lemon, after peeling its outer skin, press it and take the juice, and add sugar or honey. Mix with cold water or chilled white wine.

#8. Lavender Water

lavender water

Lavender water will soothe a well-fed belly.

PERIOD: England, 15th c. / SOURCE: Thornton Manuscript (MS Lincoln Cathedral A.5.2)

Soak a number of lavender petals in a pitcher of water holding twice as much water as petals for one night. Press, but do not squeeze, the water from the petals. Mix into the water enough honey or sugar as to taste, and serve cold.

Hot drinks

#9. Hyppocras



PERIOD: 14th c. / SOURCE: “Sip Through Time” compendium
To a quart of claret, add 8 ounces of honey. Stir in generous amounts of spice mixture (cinnamon, Mecca ginger, nutmeg, Grains of Paradise, dried cassia flowers, and galingale, all ground together) and simmer for several hours. May be served hot or allowed to cool.

#10. Lamb’s Wool (a traditional wassail)

lamb's wool

Lamb’s Wool

PERIOD: pre-12th c. | SOURCE: Earliest reference to wassail was Geoffrey of Monmouth
A festive winter drink made from apples, butter, dark beer, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. When whipped into a froth, the top looks like the wool of a spring lamb.

#11. Roasted Barley Water

roasted barley water

Roasted Barley Water

PERIOD: 14th c. / SOURCE: A Medieval Home Companion
Roasted pearl barley mashed, added to boiling water, and stewed. Strain out the mash, and pour the hot barley water over the rind or pulp of a lemon. Refreshing, aids digestion, and prevents tooth decay.

#12. Tisanes

catnip tisane

Catnip tisane

PERIOD: 14th c. / SOURCE: “Sip Through Time” compendium
Steep herb leaves or bark in boiling water. May be made with sage, chicory, mint, or—of course—catnip.

What, no coffee or black tea?!?

Sorry, caffene addicts, but coffee and tea didn’t reach Europe until long after the medieval period. Perhaps the kind folks at the Cat and Trumpet would be willing to sneak you a cuppa or two?

Practicing uppercase

Midnight with manuscriptStaff1 said that if I learned to use uppercase letters, I could have my own blog. So…I’m practicing. I don’t like it; typing makes my dewclaws hurt. But, here it is: my very own blog! (Maxwell and Cavendish don’t have <sniff>. I’m special!)