Alcohol, Violence, and Disorder in Traditional Europe
By (author) A. Lynn Martin
Publication date:01 October 2009
Length of book:272 pages
PublisherTruman State University Press
Traditional Europe had high levels of violence and of alcohol consumption, both higher than they are in modern Western societies, where studies demonstrate a link between violence and alcohol. A. Lynn Martin uses an anthropological approach to examine drinking, drinking establishments, violence, and disorder, and compares the wine-producing south with the beer-drinking north and Catholic France and Italy with Protestant England, and explores whether alcohol consumption can also explain the violence and disorder of traditional Europe.
Both Catholic and Protestant moralists believed in the link, and they condemned drunkenness and drinking establishments for causing violence and disorder. They did not advocate complete abstinence, however, for alcoholic beverages had an important role in most people's diets. Less appreciated by the moralists was alcohol's function as the ubiquitous social lubricant and the increasing importance of alehouses and taverns as centers of popular recreation.
The study utilizes both quantitative and qualitative evidence from a wide variety of sources to question the beliefs of the moralists and the assumptions of modern scholars about the role of alcohol and drinking establishments in causing violence and disorder. It ends by analyzing the often-conflicting regulations of local, regional, and national governments that attempted to ensure that their citizens had a reliable supply of good drink at a reasonable cost but also to control who drank what, where, when, and how.
No other comparable book examines the relationship of alcohol to violence and disorder during this period.
—Thomas Brennan, Professor of History, U.S. Naval Academy