Mead Primary Sources

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Mead (sometimes: "meath") is a fermented, alcoholic beverage made primarily of water and honey.

There are many sub-types of mead with their own names:

a mead containing spices
a mead containing fruit
a mead containing vinegar

among others, some of which are period names (metheglin, oxymel) and some are not (capsicumel).


Name Date Country Language English Translation Description Panels
De Re Rustica by Columella ~50 CE Rome Classical Latin 1745 translation, others exist. Roman farm manual, contains mead recipes - De aqua mulsa facienda
Naturalis Historia by Pliny 79 CE Rome Classical Latin 1601 translation, [1855], others exist. A survey of the natural world, contains references to mead.
Opus agriculturae (Palladius on husbondrie) ~400 CE Rome Classical Latin Middle English version ~1420 Book on agriculture provides a recipe for mead, "De Idromelle." The digitized manuscript is OCR'd poorly, so you may need to go to the scanned edition.
Trossingen 58 Grave Find 580 CE Germany Archaeological, book in German This grave find contained a bottle with pollen grains indicating a mixed fermented beverage including honey. 6th Century CE Hopped Mead
Aqrabadhin of al-Kindi 800-870 CE Abbasid Caliphate Arabic Available This medical formulary contains a recipe for a spiced pyment.
al-Kitab al-Ṭabīḫ of Abu Muhammad al-Muthaffar ibn Nasr ibn Sayyār al-Warrāq 900-1000 CE Iraq Arabic available, in print The earliest known Arabic cookbook, it has several mead recipes in it.
Geoponica 900-1000 CE Byzantine Empire Greek available A Byzantine farm manual, contains mead, cyser, pyment, and rhodomel recipes.
Random Notes from the Scholar's Cottage by Zhang Bangji ~1131 CE China Literary Chinese Available This mead recipe claims to be from the famous poet Su Shi. It uses Chinese yeast cakes instead of barm. 12th Century Chinese Mead
Tractatus de magnete et operationibus eius, folio 20r 1300-1400 CE England Text in Latin, Recipes in (middle) English in English, transcription available The earliest known English mead recipe. 6th Century CE Hopped Mead
Ein Buch von Guter Speise ~1350 CE Germany German Available This recipe book contains a mead recipe.
Le Ménagier de Paris 1393 CE France French Available in print This guide to a woman's proper behavior in marriage and running a household contains two recipes for bochet.
Palladius on Husbondrie 1420 CE English See Opus agriculturae.
Arnold's Chronicle 1503 CE England English (In English) This chronicle contains a recipe for a braggot called Braket.
The fyrst boke of the introduction of knowledge made by Andrew Borde, of physycke doctor. A compendyous regyment; or, A dyetary of helth made in Mountpyllier 1542 CE France (author English) English (in English) This discussion of domestic hygene and medicine contains a brief but descriptive mention of mead and metheglin on page 257.
Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus by Olaus Magnus 1555 CE Rome Latin Available, in print This history of Scandinavia includes several mead recipes.
Maison rustique, or The countrey farme 1564 CE France French Period English Translation A comprehensive text on running a country estate.
The Haven of Health by [Thomas Cogan] 1584, first edition England English (In English) This manual of health provides recipes for metheglin and braggot.
The Feminine Monarchie by Charles Butler 1609 England English (in English) This handbook of beekeeping contains several mead recipes.
The Closet of Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened 1669 CE England English (in English) Post-period, but likely based on period techniques. Comprehensive, and reasonably detailed. Contains a truly disgusting number of mead recipes. To Make White Mead

See Also

Elska á Fjárfelli of Aethelmearc's list of recipes