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Bacchus and Civic Order

The Culture of Drink in Early Modern Germany

Ann B. Tlusty

Publication Year: 2001

In Bacchus and Civic Order, Ann Tlusty examines the social and cultural functions served by drinking and tavern life in Germany between 1500 and 1700, and challenges existing theories about urban identity, sociability, and power. Through her reconstruction of the social history of Augsburg, from beggars to council members, Tlusty also sheds light on such diverse topics as social ritual, gender and household relations, medical practice, and the concerns of civic leaders with public health and poverty. Drunkenness, dueling, and other forms of tavern comportment that may appear "disorderly" to us today turn out to be the inevitable, even desirable result of a society functioning according to its own rules.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix

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Acknowledgments / A Note on Quotations and Translations

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pp. xi-xii

This work would not have been possible without the help of many friends, colleagues, and institutions, all of whom I thank most gratefully. I am also thankful to the project itself for leading me to make the acquaintance of many fascinating...

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pp. 1-16

When the day laborer Lienhart Strobel was accused by the Augsburg city council in 1542 of allowing his daughter to practice prostitution in his house and accepting rounds of drinks from her customers in return for his compliance, he defended...

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Chapter 1: The City and Its Taverns

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pp. 17-34

The free imperial city of Augsburg was at the height of its wealth and power as it moved into the sixteenth century. Home to the fabulously rich merchant houses of Fugger, Welser, and Baumgartner, Augsburg was renowned for its...

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Chapter 2: Augsburg’s Tavern Keepers

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pp. 35-47

Serving the social needs of Augsburg’s populace during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were between 90 and 110 public taverns. The previous chapter outlined their locations and role in defining and supporting social status. But what...

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Chapter 3: The Drunken Body

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pp. 48-68

In 1570 the Augsburg physician and humanist Achilles Pirminius Gasser gave a speech to the members of the Lords’ and Merchants’ Drinking Societies warning against the dangers of drunkenness. Gasser preceded his list of possible dangers with a general...

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Chapter 4: The Drunken Spirit

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pp. 69-79

“They guzzle,” Zwingli lamented in a 1525 tract, “as if wine cannot be poured out and lost in any other way than through the human body.”1 Zwingli in his attack on the abuse of wine deplored not only the damage to body and spirit...

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Chapter 5: Drunkenness and the Law

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pp. 80-102

The civic institution that resulted from the South German Reform movement represented the partnership between city government and urban church envisioned by Zwingli. During the early years of the Reformation, reformed urban governments...

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Chapter 6: The Contract Drink

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pp. 103-114

In any social situation in early modern Germany, a shared drink had many strings attached. This was especially true of the custom of the contract drink, a drink shared by parties in commercial contracts or other forms of agreements. In the case of the merchant...

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Chapter 7: Drinking and Gender Identity

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pp. 115-146

Why did early modern people drink? The seventeenth-century German legalist Matthias von Abele listed forty-five good reasons, among them friendship, honor, virtue, bravery, virility, business and trade, and good taste and fine company; equally compelling...

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Chapter 8: Drinking and Social Identity

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pp. 147-157

The early modern urban tavern provided a routine meeting place in which city dwellers established and maintained group identity with their social network. Augsburg’s artisans used tavern space, participation (or nonparticipation) in a drinking bout...

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Chapter 9: The Social Functions of the Tavern

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pp. 158-182

We have seen that the provision of food, drink, and lodging in return for money was the basic form of economic exchange that defined the tavern keepers’ trade. The tavern offered another important commodity, however, for which no direct charge was made...

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Chapter 10: Drinking and Public Order

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pp. 183-208

The period of religious reform in Germany was accompanied by a comprehensive attack on drunkenness that faded out during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the era associated with increased social control, enforced discipline...

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pp. 209-212

At the heart of this study is the question of where early modern society established norms and how much these norms differed between elite and popular society. The norms that governed relationships within the early modern German city...


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pp. 213-255


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pp. 257-275


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pp. 277-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780813921709
E-ISBN-10: 0813921708
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813920443
Print-ISBN-10: 0813920442

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2001

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Augsburg (Germany) -- Social life and customs.
  • Taverns (Inns) -- Germany -- Augsburg -- History.
  • Drinking of alcoholic beverages -- Germany -- Augsburg -- Social aspects.
  • Drinking customs -- Germany -- Augsburg -- History.
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