Food served many practical, symbolic, and ideological purposes in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Accepting sustenance and support from a patron, household, or religious institution constituted a bond of loyalty for both parties; much surviving correspondence is concerned with details of avoiding or offering responsibility. Some monastic orders, like the Cistercians and Carthusians – and plenty of saints, particularly female ones – responded to the perceived laxity by the imposition of much stricter fasting regulations upon themselves and their adherents. Protestant theologians almost universally condemned calendared fasting as superstitious, self-righteous, and disconnected from true piety, which arose from an individual’s relationship with God. Calvin declared that Rome attached ‘false and pernicious opinions’ to fasting, confusing dietary practice with religious devotion. Fasting became an individual rather than collective responsibility: between a person and their God, rather than mediated by the Church. It became ‘synonymous with’ humiliation, a means of asserting and provoking an awareness of one’s own unworthiness.