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The Politics of AlcoholA History of the Drink Question in England$
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James Nicholls

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780719077050

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719077050.001.0001

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A monstrous plant: alcohol and the Reformation

A monstrous plant: alcohol and the Reformation

(p.5) 1 A monstrous plant: alcohol and the Reformation
The Politics of Alcohol

James Nicholls

Manchester University Press

In 1628, a writer called Richard Rawlidge published a pamphlet with the eye-catching title A Monster Late Found Out and Discovered. That monster was drunkenness. According to Rawlidge, England was suffering from an explosion of social disorder caused by a dramatic rise in the number of alehouses springing up across the country. Much of the legislation which had been passed in Rawlidge's lifetime was designed to shore up the power of local magistrates who had been tasked with using their licensing powers to control excessive drinking. The development of a public discourse on drink, in which drink was identified as a specific social ‘problem’ in both literature and legislation, accompanied the spread of the Reformation. This is not to say that there was a direct causal link between the rise of Protestantism and the earliest appearance of the drink question. This chapter discusses drunkenness in early modern England, drink and popular festivities, the development of the alehouse, drunkenness as a ‘monstrous plant’, and drink as a political threat.

Keywords:   drunkenness, England, Reformation, legislation, licensing, alehouse, alcohol, festivities, social disorder, Richard Rawlidge

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