France is known as the land of bread– and during the fifteen and sixteenth centuries, this could not have been more true.
Back then, the average French person consumed anywhere between one and a half to two and a half pounds of bread every single day. Those in the upper echelons also enjoyed dining on meat and washing it down with two liters of wine every evening.
For the poorer residents, though, bread made up the bulk of their diet. And even though the gluten was enough to keep the French kicking during standard periods in history, times of wheat scarcity threatened widespread starvation.
Although, this reality was never more serious in Paris than during a siege.
The capital and highly populated city had suffered multiple sieges throughout history– beginning when the Vikings besieged in 1845 to 1870 at the hands of the Prussians.
And amidst those times of scarcity, Parisians were forced to eat anything they could get their hands on. They ended up cooking everything from street rats and military horses to even zoo animals to curb their hunger.
Still, nothing compared to what occurred in 1589– when the Parisians were so desperate for food that they actually ate bread made from human bones.
That year, following King Henri III’s death, his cousin– Henri III of Navarre– was next in line to take over the French throne. Despite being baptized as a Catholic, though, the King of Navarre had been raised in Protestantism.
This made things very complicated since France had been in the middle of the Wars of Religion– a prolonged time of conflict between the Catholics and Protestants that lasted thirty-six years and claimed about three million lives.