Hábitos alimentarios de los siglos XVI y XVII a través de la obra de Cervantesrelación con la morbi-mortalidad de la época

Supervised by:
  1. M. Carmen Martínez Para Director
  2. María Victorina Aguilar Vilas Co-director

Defence university: Universidad de Alcalá

Fecha de defensa: 19 November 2015

  1. Luis A. García Moreno Chair
  2. Francisco Zaragoza García Secretary
  3. Vicente Pérez Moreda Committee member
  4. Rosaura Farré Rovira Committee member
  5. Benito del Castillo García Committee member
  1. Ciencias Biomédicas

Type: Thesis


The growing interest in the study of food science is currently verifiable, not only within nutritional and bromatological aspects, but also in what has been called the knowledge of the everyday "uses y customs" of the population. In this work (paper, assignment), we have tried to unravel the historical evolution in the dietary habits of the population, in the Spanish golden age, basing it on the literary contributions of Miguel de Cervantes and diverse historical, medical and bromatological essays of the era. Dietary habits and customs do not happen by chance nor are they relevant to a certain historical moment; but, on the contrary, they have ancestral roots and are justifiably influenced by different factors. This paper is divided into several different sections. Firstly, we establish the bases of eating habits and its determinants - environmental, religious, technological, cultural, etc. – and we outline the current status of historical research on diet. Therefore we understand that eating habits are part of the identity of a people and these habits do not change abruptly in contrast they evolve slowly and smoothly. This reflection led us to dedicate a second section to the knowledge of society around this time, in order to delve deeper into the everyday life and the gastronomy during the Spanish Renaissance. Once defined the basics that characterize our eating habits, this dissertation goes on to examine the dietary differences between the social classes of the time. In addition we take into consideration the effect the religious influence had on all aspects of their daily life. The true purpose of this report is to evaluate the nutritional status during the Spanish Renaissance and, in turn, establish the causes and consequences of this. To do this, once we had ascertained the dishes consumed in Cervantes time, we then had to examine the scientific, medical knowledge available in the 16th century, in order to be able to understand their nutritional knowledge. Finally, this report applied scientific knowledge to justify the nutritional status of the contemporaries of Cervantes on the basis of the effect of factors such as lifestyle habits, diseases of the time, as well as methods of preparation, utensils used, food hygiene... This is established using a comparison between the recommended nutritional pyramids of today with those that we understand were present during the Renaissance. Dividing the latter into two so as to be able to consider the bipolarity between the rich and the poor in this historical period. At the same time, we classify into different food groups, the foods that are related to the work of Cervantes, as well as an incomplete list of food, which includes those significant to each of the groups of diseases most relevant and which are mentioned in the texts of the Alcala author. In conclusion with all of this, we intend to establish the cause of the relationship between diet and health in Spain at the time of Cervantes