A Brief History of Piers Galveston

The table fork was unknown in the Middle Ages, except for those belonging to Piers Galveston, who owned three for eating candied pears. Some version of this sentence appears in literally hundreds of books, articles, and blog posts relating to eating utensils. Not only is it not true, but it is such an unusual statement. If only Piers Galveston owned table forks, in Medieval Europe, wouldn’t that make him the inventor of the table fork? Or, at least, the patron of the actual inventor? Who was he and why has he been relegated to, perhaps, the most famous person to be found in a footnote?

The attached image is an 1872 painting by English artist Marcus Stone of Edward II and Piers Galveston and does not appear in my paper.

2 Responses

  1. Katja

    Hi Caleb!
    What a fascinating subject! I love the way you write, it’s so entertaining while still being incredibly educating. This is a well-written paper that flows well, is quite interesting, and includes a solid bibliography of sources.

    I would suggest consulting a proofreader or copyeditor for future papers (Hi! I’m happy to do so!) because there were a few typos, but certainly nothing egregious. I also would suggest supporting your statements more frequently with in-text citations or footnotes, please, since it wasn’t always clear from where your research came.

    Okay, you *know* I want to focus on the forks rather than the guy! 😉

    I haven’t read a ton on utensil history in my research but I do know a bit, and I’ve never heard of this guy in connection to fork history. So, thank you, I learned something new! 🙂 It’s *really* strange that he, an Englishman, is connected to fork history since at this point most current research supports dining forks in Europe being used only in parts of Italy. I just checked a few of my books and I don’t see him listed, so now you make me want to deep dive, you frustrating person, you. 😉
    Books I’m consulting are Giovanni Rebora’s Culture of the Fork, Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork, Bridget Ann Henisch’s Fast and Feast, and C. Anne Wilson’s Banquetting Stuffe. I’d love to chat more with you about this online because now you’ve put an itch in my brain.

    Overall, fascinating paper and thanks for entering!
    Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina, OP, OL, CB, Thescorre

  2. Caleb

    Thank you , very much. I had fun writing it. Normally, I would have provided full citations, but I was running out of time to get this project finished. I might revisit the paper to stick the end-notes in. I have enough notes to create them. I do find it fascinating that such an interesting person was boiled down to the 3 silver forks that were found in his abandoned possessions. Not the belt made if lion skin. Not the 100 silver shields (no size was listed so… were they jewelry sized? Or were they full sized for processions?) Not the ruby that was worth the equivalent of around a million bucks that was found in his clothes after he was executed. Not he fact that he stole somewhere close to a billion dollars in today’s money, from the royal treasury, in cash, goods, and lands. Just the three forks that were somewhat common among the upper classes of England for eating surgery, sticky sweets. Edward II’s personal inventory lists two sliver forks also for eating candied pears. https://www.shutterstock.com/editorial/image-editorial/art-manuscript-various-5850778gd is an image from the Hrabanus Mauras Glossaria (1023). This is the earliest example of people eating with table forks, in art, that I could find. Eventually, I will finish up my table fork paper and resubmit it to the CA. Here is a part: https://calebreynolds.blogspot.com/2015/09/some-brief-notes-about-table-forks.html