Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 4/Temperance societies in Germany in the sixteenth century

Once a Week, Series 1, Volume IV (1860-1861)
Temperance societies in Germany in the sixteenth century
by Edward Henry Michelsen


The various laws which were frequently enacted in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to check drunkenness, or, at least, immoderate drinking of wine and spirits, proved utterly abortive, owing to the social life of the middle ages, which was chiefly based upon quaffing.

Charlemagne himself was obliged to order that the counts and margraves should at least be sober when sitting in courts of justice, while the German emperors were, at their coronation ceremony, asked, “whether they promise, by the help of God, to lead a sober life!” Indeed, all the laws and regulations of the sixteenth century were mainly directed against drunkenness, but not against drinking. Even Luther was no enemy to wine; witness the large goblet (still extant at Nüremberg) which he presented to his friend Jonas.

A temperance society was at last formed by the aristocracy in the sixteenth century, and the following were among the rules:—

1. To drink daily only 14 cups of wine.

2. Italian, Spanish, or hot-spiced wines are prohibited, beyond 1 cup a-day, which must be deducted from the daily allowance.

3. For the further quenching of thirst beer is allowed.

4. These 14 cups must not be drunk at once, but after at least 3 intervals.