Top 10 revolutionary drinks

Aux armes citoyens!

The Bastille is stormed

Champagne appears to flow through the story of the French Revolution as freely as aristocratic blood through the furrows of fields (if the Marseillaise is to be believed).

Why the revolution started is well known, with building resentment against the increasingly decadent and corrupt French ruling classes finally erupting in the storming of the Paris Bastille on 14 July 1789.

Part of that decadence can be linked to either Madame de Pomadour (consort of Louis XV) or Marie Antoinette (wife of Louis XVI) either one of whom legend asserts offered their breast as the model for the classic Champagne coupe.

Meanwhile, one of the leading revolutionaries, Georges Jacques Danton was born in the Champagne region in the village of Acris-sur-Aube.

Another legend asserts that he even bathed in the stuff, whether this is true or not is of course pure speculation and probably largely linked to his rather wild lifestyle but he did bathe regularly – a practice that led to the grisly murder of his fellow revolutionary, Jean-Paul Marat, stabbed to death in his tub by Charlotte Corday.

Eventually, though, like all good tragedies, Louis, Marie Antoinette and Danton all ended up at the mercy of Madame Guillotine.

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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