This month at That Shakespeare Girl, we are exploring a Shakespearean Christmas. This week, we are looking at one of the most popular breakfast drinks at Christmas during Shakespeare’s time, which is Malmsey. It’s a sweet dessert wine that, turns out, is just as steeped in mystery as it is in sugar. Featured prominently in both¬†Elizabethan rumor¬†and Shakespeare’s Richard III, this sweet Christmas wine will help carry us into the holiday season by starting things off with a good legend.

Malmsey was a sweet dessert wine popularly drank at Christmas breakfast in the 17th century. Imported from the Canary Islands, and even called “Canary” in Shakespeare’s England, this wine plays a prominent role in Shakespeare’s Richard III.

In the play, this wine is what fills the “malmsey-butt” into which the First Murderer threatens to drown George, Duke of Clarence.

Watch this week’s video to discover why Richard III can count as a Christmas play, the legend surrounding the death of the Duke of Clarence and why Parliament didn’t get their way, and lastly, how many gallons make up a “malmsey-butt” anyway.

To explore more, download the free research guide that lists all of the links, sites, books, and information I used to put together this video. Enjoy!

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