Feasting during the Thirty Years war

Posted on January 28, 2021 by mario

«By the irony of fate the wine harvest of 1634, which should have been excellent, was trampled by fugitives and invaders after Nördlingen; that of 1635 suffered a like fate, and in the winter, from Württemberg to Lorraine, there raged the worst famine for many years. At Calw the pastor saw a woman gnawing the raw flesh of a dead horse on which a hungry dog and some ravens were also feeding. In Alsace the bodies of criminals were torn from the gallows and devoured; in the whole Rhineland they watched the graveyards against marauders who sold the flesh of the newly buried for food; at Zweibrücken a woman confessed to having eaten her child. Acorns, goats’ skins, grass, were all cooked in Alsace; cats, dogs, and rats were sold in the market at Worms. In Fulda and Coburg and near Frankfort and the great refugee camp, men went in terror of being killed and eaten by those maddened by hunger. Near Worms hands and feet were found half cooked in a gipsies’ [sic] cauldron. Not far from Wertheim human bones were discovered in a pit, fresh, fleshless, sucked to the marrow.»

«The English ambassador and his suite, travelling to the Electoral meeting at Regensburg, had looked in amazed horror upon a country where the villagers, instead of welcoming them, fled at their approach, thinking them to be more invading soldiers, where the roads were so unsafe that several of the ambassadorial train were set on and murdered within a stone’s throw of the highway and not four miles from Nuremberg. The journey was a nightmare to the peaceful Englishmen, and the man who recorded it writes with the air of one not trusting his own eyes, as though he were recording a dream, not a reality. ‘From Coln hither to [to Frankfort] all the towns, villages and castles be battered, pillaged and burnt’; at Neunkirchen they ‘found one house burning when we came and not any body in the village’, and later stumbled on two bodies in the streets, one of which had been newly ‘scraped out of the grave’. At Eilfkirchen they ‘dined with some reserved meat of our own for there was not anything to be found’; at Neustadt ‘which hath been a fair city, though now pillaged and burnt miserably…we saw poor children sitting at their doors almost starved to death’; at Bacharach ‘the poor people are found dead with grass in their mouths’; at Rüdensheim ‘His Excellency gave some relief to the poor which were almost starved as it appeared by the violence they used to get it from one another’; at Mainz there were ‘diverse poor people lying on the dunghills, … being scarce able to crawl for to receive His Excellency’s alms’; here too the town was ‘miserably battered’, so that the travellers slept and ate in their boat on the river, throwing the remains to the beggars on the quay, ‘at the sight of which they strove so violently that some of them fell into the Rhine and were like to have been drowned’.» – C.V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War