The food supply of the temperate lands of early-medieval western Europe, and the ways in which its peoples dealt with the central problem of feeding themselves, has been subjected to a variety of interpretations in recent years. Vern Bullough and Cameron Campbell's study of the medieval diet and female longevity concluded that early-medieval women suffered from iron deficiencies triggered jointly by poor nutrition and frequent childbearing and that these deficiencies contributed substantially to their average early age of death. Ann Hagen's overview of Anglo-Saxon patterns of food production and consumption suggested that most of the early English population routinely lived at marginally adequate or outright substandard levels of nutrition. Similar conclusions were reached by Renée Doehaerd in her study of the early-medieval economy. Michel Rouche, on the other hand, asserted that the typical Carolingian—including the peasants—had access to a monotonous, but abundant, supply of foodstuffs and may have consumed an average of 6,000–9,000 calories per day. Richard Hodges likewise decided that Anglo-Saxon peasants were reasonably well fed, based on the heavy food rents per hide demanded during the reign of the West Saxon king Ina.
Original Publication Citation
Pearson, K. L. (1997). Nutrition and the early-Medieval diet. Speculum, 72(1), 1-32. doi: 10.2307/2865862
Pearson, Kathy L., "Nutrition and the Early-Medieval Diet" (1997). History Faculty Publications. 1.