Top 10 revolutionary drinks

Death by Malmsey

The first story here is born out of a failed rebellion, although it is merely part of a series of rebellions that wracked England throughout the 15th century.

Edward IV, having wrested the throne from his distant cousin, the mad Henry VI, was sure to consolidate his hold on power and extirpate those who would oppose him – one of whom happened to be his own brother.

George, Duke of Clarence, was Edward’s younger brother and also older brother to the future Richard III.

Although he had fought by his brother’s side during the initial battles against the Lancastrians, power and a fondness for drink led to his downfall.

A plot against his brother saw him imprisoned in the Tower of London and eventually, so legend relates, put to death by being drowned in a butt of Malmsey (which if nothing else shows Portuguese wine has been popular in Britain for a long time).

A butt of wine, at 477 litres, is easily enough to drown a man in, and a body thought to be Clarence was exhumed at a later date showing no signs of beheading – the noble’s traditional death. Certainly he was not executed publically – so perhaps it’s true?

 

4 Responses to “Top 10 revolutionary drinks”

  1. Caryl Panman says:

    A footnote to Anarchists and Bolsheviks: According to Sebag Montefiori, when the Revolutionaries took over the Winter Palace, they were protected by a battalion of their own army – who promptly got drunk on the wonderful wine they found in its well-stocked cellars. Another battalion was brought in, and by the next day they were all drunk too. Lenin decided he couldn’t trust his army any more, and called in the Fire Brigade. Who also got drunk. So he decided the only solution was to smash all the bottles, and rivers of the best wine in the world flowed through the streets of St Petersburg, to the huge enjoyment of its populace.

  2. Margaret Rand says:

    Water, too: the Jacobite toast to the king was (supposedly) made holding the glass over a bowl of water – and was thus to ‘the king over the water’, rather than to King George.

  3. Loosely related to revolution, Napoleon’s army supposedly celebrated their Prussian victory in 1806 with a Berliner Weisse. A Berliner Weisse is a delicious tart wheat beer that was popular in the region at the time and often considered beers equivalent to Champagne.

  4. ken gargett says:

    One from Down Under, the Rum Rebellion of 1808 saw Governor Bligh (of Bounty fame), Governor of NSW, deposed by the NSW Corps, which were seen to be closely associated with wealthy landowner, John Macarthur. The Corps ruled NSW till the arrival of Lachlan Macquarie in 1810, at which time the Corps was sent home and replaced by the 73th Regiment of the Foot. Bligh had been the fourth Governor of NSW. It might well be apocryphal but I remember as a schoolkid how we were all told that Bligh was found cowering under his bed when the Corps came looking.
    Bligh had earnt the displeasure of the Corps shortly after arriving when he used the Colony’s stores as relief for farmers who had been affected by flooding. The Corps had been earning a nice profit by trading said stores prior to this.
    He was also determined to prevent spirits being used for barter (hence how the name, ‘Rum Rebellion’ came to be associated with this event in Australian history, though it was not so labelled until many years later). There were numerous other reasons also why he and the Corps fell out. Bligh prevented Macarthur from providing the Corps with extensive amounts of rum cheaply. And prevented the importation of illegal stills.
    Rum actually played only a small role in the Rebellion but the tag stuck.
    KBG

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