routine alcohol consumption in medieval anglo social evolution


u might call me a late bloomer when it comes to learning certain things i should have learned in school.

booze. medieval england and germany, ok?

so i’m reading these historical fiction books that take place back then and they’re always drinking wine and ale even at breakfast and during the day. i’m like hmm that’s weird. how’d they ever get anything done?  i assume it was their drink of choice because they were excessive or something as these books are about royals.

so i’m reading about catherine of aragon and she goes to england and she’s like omg they don’t drink water here cuz its dirty. instead they drink ale and wine all the time. she explains to arthur, to whom she was first married and loved very much (supposedly), that in espana they’d piped in clean water from the mountains directly into the cities and of course directly into the palace where she’d lived.

she was also appalled that the english did not have running water for cleaning themselves as they did in espana. (as influenced by the arabs.)  oh and it was a moorish african doctor in this book that told catherine to boil english water b4 drinking it when everyone else was telling her to drink ale and vino. (no wonder so many women miscarried back then!) i could go on about these kinds of interesting tidbits but i wont.

so i’m thinking… if a culture (specifically, mediaeval england) for decades if not centuries evolved with *everyone* consuming alcohol daily, would that make them perpetually sleepy or put a damper on productivity? how the hay did they get anything done?! maybe they built up a tolerance to booze? i suppose they would have.  …. i wonder if more ppl died back then from liver disease?

i wonder if it was the introduction of coffee to england that ppl stopped consuming wine and ale like fratboys and drank coffee and tea instead? (i read somewhere, i forget what book it was, an author positing that the reformation was sparked by mass consumption of caffeine — it made everyone perky and talkative.)

and when and who introduced drinking water regularly by everyone? was it simultaneous with tea and coffee consumption?

the most interesting question – when ale and wine was no longer consumed regularly by everyone, i wonder how all aspects of culture were affected?  i imagined ppl got more shit done and could think clearer. i bet there were influences we wouldn’t even think of. i’d love to go back in time and observe such things.

so…. maybe the reformation happened cuz ppl stopped being alcoholics and switched to being caffeine addicts?

i didn’t study this shit in high school or college. i was a lame student when it came to history. but, i find it interesting now.

anyhoo, if anyone comes across this and knows of any academic writings on this subject please send them to me. TIA.

update: found this interesting rink: http://historyundressed.blogspot.com/2008/10/medieval-beverages-tasty.html

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About bettyx1138
https://bettyx1138.wordpress.com

2 Responses to routine alcohol consumption in medieval anglo social evolution

  1. Bob Petrie says:

    Fast forward to colonial America. Hard cider was hugely popular by everyone, at all times of the day. In fact, Johnny Appleseed’s apples were used more for cider than for nutrition. See http://www.pbs.org/thebotanyofdesire/viewers-guide.php for reference, then watch the entire special which is fascinating in so many ways.

    • bettyx1138 says:

      thanks bob!

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