Historical rabbit holes, for those who are inclined.
These slender booklets from Historical Management Associates are the work of an organization dedicated to historical re-enactment in the UK. They are written with a stickler’s attention to historical precision and a conviction that nothing is too arcane to investigate. Some of the books are simple transcriptions of period manuscripts; others represent significant original research, as in Cattle Farming and Grazing Management, which is 52 pages long but cites 36 sources, many of them published in the 17th century.
From the introduction:
“In this brief work we attempt to give the flavour of Christmas food, drink and atmosphere for a typical small farmer of the late Elizabethan or early Stuart period. These men were the backbone of the population on England and Wales, merging at the poorest into the labourers and at their richest into the gentry. The table of each was furnished according to his means but at Christmas the purse strings were opened a little to allow a few delicacies and other specialities made during the year were brought out.”
Draws on material from five books published between 1580 and 1669.