Kings and queens throughout history had to face all manner of political intrigue. Many of them possessed dozens of enemies within the court who wanted nothing more than to see them dead, and had to deal with shadowy assassins being paid to pour vials of odd-looking black powder into the soup. It was therefore common practice to employ a royal food taster to consume some of the food and wine before the king sat down for his dinner. This way, it would just be a lowly peasant who died, and not someone important whose parents were first-degree blood cousins.
Now, the job wasn’t all bad. The food taster got to eat some of the finest meals of the time – roast suckling duck, candied yams, several types of stinky cheese. . . it was only a taste, though, and then the royal advisor would make sure that he wasn’t twitching uncontrollably or foaming at the mouth. If he was, they’d know that the food was poisoned and send for a new platter of plum pudding. The royal food taster would then get tossed into a ditch with all the other food tasters, which, depending on the political climate, could be quite large. If you’d like to know more, please consult with your local duke or baron for exciting employment opportunities.