By A. Lynn Martin (auth.)
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Extra resources for Alcohol, Sex, and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
The strength of beer and ale was more straightforward than that of wine. To make beer or ale brewers added yeast to water and malted barley. Since the sugar content of malted barley is relatively invariable, to make a stronger drink the brewer used less water. Another method, similar to the making of piquette, was to pour water over the wort after removing the first brew and fermenting it. The resulting drink, called Women and Alcohol 33 small ale or small beer, had an alcoholic content comparable to piquette.
83 The use of aqua vitae in childbirth and its subsequent use as a medicine might in turn have led toward the end of the seventeenth century to the consumption of spirits by women on a broad scale, especially by upper-class women. 88 Just as women in childbirth could use ale and wine in addition to aqua vitae, so also they could use ale and wine as medicine at other times. ’89 In this use of alcoholic beverages at times a fine line could exist between drink as medicine and drink as psychotropic, especially in the case of childbirth.
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.
Alcohol, Sex, and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe by A. Lynn Martin (auth.)