By A. Lynn Martin (auth.)
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Extra resources for Alcohol, Sex, and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
On the whole, however, the restrictions reduced rather than eliminated the drinking. Reduced by how much? If men drank three times what women drank, women could still be drinking a substantial amount. Another factor that might help explain away the image of excessive consumption is fetal alcohol syndrome. Despite the long history of beliefs that alcohol harmed the fetus, the modern description of the problem did not occur until 1973, when two scientists, K. L. Jones and D. W. 148 The more important effects of drinking during pregnancy are (1) a significant decrease in the weight of the fetus, leading to increased and significant perinatal mortality, that is, mortality during the last five months of pregnancy and the first month after birth, (2) mental deficiency among the survivors, resulting in an average IQ of 70, and (3) abnormal physical and especially facial features.
Patriarchal restrictions might have prevented some women from drinking and reduced the drinking of others. The answers to the questions how many women and reduced by how much must remain tentative, but the evidence points to not many and not much. More effective than patriarchal restrictions in limiting the consumption of alcohol were the religious convictions of some women and the poverty of many others. Even the poor could drink during the rites, festivals, and rituals that were a feature of life in traditional Europe and that featured the drinking of alcoholic beverages.
In Paris, Sebastiano Locatelli and his traveling companions twice encountered aristocratic women who demanded that the Italians join them in toasting the King’s health. ’58 In her letters to her daughter, Madame de Sévigné often mentioned the toasts drunk to her. For example, on 30 July 1689 she wrote of a dinner she attended at Vannes, ‘and the wine of St. 60 Drinking provided an opportunity for women to gather to enjoy each other’s company, and the enjoyment of each other’s company provided an opportunity for a drink.
Alcohol, Sex, and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe by A. Lynn Martin (auth.)