By Nile K. Blunt
PhD Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011
Abstract: This dissertation explores the ritual behavior and material culture associated with ceremonial dining at the court of King Charles I of England (b.1600 – d.1649). Employing archival sources that have heretofore been underutilized by historians of seventeenth-century England, this study reconstructs the king’s dining ceremonies and situates them within the broader context of the political, religious and cultural milieus of the court. The first chapter examines King Charles’s personal religious preferences, as exemplified by his English and Scottish coronations. Illuminating his religious convictions and exploring his fervent attachment to the Beauty of Holiness helps to reveal the material and ritual congruencies between dining ceremonies and religious rituals. The following chapter reconstructs these dining ceremonies and places them in the context of the ritual life of the court, while also charting the complex system of provisioning food for the royal household. This chapter illuminates how these ceremonies revived older modes of ritual kingship and aided the king in presenting a particular vision of his rule that was characterized by the conflation of the secular and the sacred. The following chapter explores the various roles of silver plate at court including its place in the material culture of dining and religious worship. The final chapter presents the Order of the Garter as a “case study” for the confluence of dining and religious ritual at court. The Garter Feast and Charles’ relationship to it help to demonstrate the sacral tone of his kingship as well as the “antique magnificence” that he promulgated. Ultimately, this dissertation demonstrates the ways in which dining ceremonies served as an expression of the core ideals of the kingship of Charles I.