Cheese in Medieval Manuscripts!

medieval cheese

Cheese on the Sexy Codicology Twitter Feed

It came from Walters Museum attracted our attention with this tweet:

With a title like that, we couldn’t but investigate!

Who would have guessed that cheese has such a wonderful story? Barbara Wells Sarudy from her blog explains to us the history of cheese, using beautiful miniatures from medieval manuscripts as support. The blog begins with stating that the oldest pictorial evidence of the existence of cheese dates back 4500 years, all the way back to the Sumerians of Mesopotamia. The post then proceeds to explain how cheese was made in the middle ages, explaining also what types of it you could find in that period (the Grana dates back to 1200!). Moreover, it also explain how it was used as value usable for payments in the same period. For example: did you know that Emperor Charles the Great issued created an annual tax on the church that totaled in 2 consignments of his favorite cheese? Which Barbara doesn’t tell, curiosity will kill us. But the most interesting aspect concerns the norms that existed at the time, concerning how large the cheese should be. It had to be standardized, due to the fact that it was one of the means of payment of the mandatory taxes for feudal lords. A beautiful little post full of curiosities, definitely worth a look! Should you be even more interested in the history of cheese, there is also a whole Wikipedia page just about that!

Giulio Menna
Giulio is an MA graduate in Book and Digital Media Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is also system librarian at Leiden University Library. Founder and developer of Sexy Codicology and the DMMmaps Project; lover of medieval manuscripts and of all things digital.