World Alcohol and Drinking History Timeline

The Renaissance

From about 1400 to about 1600

The Renaissance (“rebirth” or “revival”) refers to the period from about 1300 to about 1600, during which time there was a revival of knowledge, art, archtitecture and science. It began in Italy and spread throughout the rest of Europe in an uneven pace and manner.

Note: This timeline presents events in the history of alcohol and drinking during the Renaissance, about 1400 to about 1600, in chronological order. When events are listed as having occurred within a period of time, such as sixteenth century, they are listed before more specifically dated events, such as 1520s, which is listed before the more specific date of 1522.

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Fifteenth Century

1469

“The Dutch were probably the earliest to to distill drinks other than wine, when they made the first gins from juniper.” “The first mention of a still in Sweden, where the first grain alcohol was made from beer, dates from 1469.”13

1472

The use of alcohol in Nigeria almost certainly began long before Europeans arrived. “Palm wine and home-brewed beer from grainswere the indignous alcoholic beverages of importance.”14

1487

Munich passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of any ingredients other than barley, hops and water in brewing.15

1489

Germany’s first brewing guild, was founded.16

1490s

Emperor Frederick III of the Holy Roman Empire ordered that drunkenness be severely punished.17

1490

The Navigation Act of 1490 in England stimulated wine imports from Bordeaux.18

1492

The Scottish Parliament prohibited any adulteration of beer or wine on punishment of death.19

1493

By 1493, the “berebrewers” of London were sufficiently numerous to found their own mystery, or guild, and by the time of the Reformation it was as common in metropolitan pubs as ale.”20

1495

France recommended that no ingredients other than grain (the type not specified), hops and water be used in brewing.21

As Magellan prepared to sail around the world in 1519, he spent more money on Sherry than on weapons.22

Sixteenth Century

1510s

Tsar Vasily III (1505-1532) of Russia granted permission his courtiers permission to consume as much alcohol as they wanted, but they had to live in a specific section of Moscow so as not to corrupt the “lower classes of people.35

Cir. 1510

The liqueur Benedictine was first produced by Benedictine monks in France.36

1516

The German Beer Purity Law (“Rheinheitsgebot”)

made it illegal to brew beer from anything other than barley, hops, yeast, and water.37

Cir. 1519-1521

1520s

1522

1530s

In the wine producing areas of southern France, wine was considered a basic food, whereas it was not elsewherein the country.44

1531

Brewers in England were prohibited from making the barrels in which their beer or ale was sold in order to protect the livlihood of coopers.45

Cir. 1532-1539

Cachaça, currently the third most-consumed distilled beverage in the world, was first distilled in Brazil from fermented sugarcane juice, rather than molasses (as is rum). The exact date of its first production is unknown, but usually estimated to have been betwen 1532 and 1539.46

1532

In Brazil, “The Portuguese planted grapes around São Paulo in 1532.”47

1536

1540

Brandenberg prohibited both brewing and serving alcohol on Sundays and high holy days.50

1553

London passed legislation regulating tavers, including their prices and requiring them to obtain licenses.51

1555

Grapevines were introduced to Chile and wine was produced as early as 1555.52

1556

54

1557

The council of Nuremberg complained about the injuries caused daily by drunkenness. the citywas also picking up drunken people lying in the streets.55

1558-1603

“Women of all conditions appear to have enjoyed a reasonable freedom to consume alcohol in Elizabethan times.”56

1559

Distilling had become so active in Bordeaux that it was banned as a fire hazard.57

1561

Beer was first sold in glass bottles in Germany.58

1563

Wine was made in Florida from wild grapes by Spaniards. 59

1571

A major case in England held that “If a person that is drunk kills another, this shall be felony and he shall be hanged for it, and yet he did it through ignorance, for whenhe was drunk he had no understanding nor memory; but in as much as that ignorance was occasioned by his own act and folly, and he might have avoided it, he shall not be privileged thereby.” 60

1575

Lucius Bols established a distillery near Amsterdam and is believed to have been the first to produce gin commercially.61 It is the oldest distillery in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world.62

1577

According to the first official census in England and Wales, there were about 19,759 retail alcohol outlets, or about one for every 187 people.63 That compares to about one for every 657 people today.64

1580s

With the spread of Puritanism, attacks on intoxication and ale-houses increased.65

1584

Wine was first produced in Bolivia.66

1587

The first beer brewed in the New World was in 1587 at Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony in Virginia. It was brewed from Indian corn or maize.67

1589

Henry III (1574-1589) of France permitted wine sellers and both tavern and cabaret owners to form a guild.68

1590s

Each man in the English navy received a daily ration of a gallon of beer.69

1599

A professor at Tubingen in Germany criticized the drinking of toasts, arguing that the practice resultedin problems such as fighting duels.70

 

The Future

To learn more about alcohol and drinking after the Renaissance, visit

Resources

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  • 9 Dion, Roger. Histoire de las Vigne et du Vin en France des origines au XIXe Siecle. Paris: Roger, 1959, p. 61.
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