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Started by Recusant, March 29, 2021, 08:26:05 PM
QuoteWhat do witches have to do with your favorite beer?When I pose this question to students in my American literature and culture classes, I receive stunned silence or nervous laughs. The Sanderson sisters didn't chug down bottles of Sam Adams in "Hocus Pocus." But the history of beer points to a not-so-magical legacy of transatlantic slander and gender roles.Up until the 1500s, brewing was primarily women's work – that is, until a smear campaign accused women brewers of being witches. Much of the iconography we associate with witches today, from the pointy hat to the broom, may have emerged from their connection to female brewers.[. . .]Just as women were establishing their foothold in the beer markets of England, Ireland and the rest of Europe, the Reformation began. The religious movement, which originated in the early 16th century, preached stricter gender norms and condemned witchcraft.Male brewers saw an opportunity. To reduce their competition in the beer trade, some accused female brewers of being witches and using their cauldrons to brew up magic potions instead of booze.Unfortunately, the rumors took hold.Over time, it became more dangerous for women to practice brewing and sell beer because they could be misidentified as witches. At the time, being accused of witchcraft wasn't just a social faux pas; it could result in prosecution or a death sentence. Women accused of witchcraft were often ostracized in their communities, imprisoned or even killed.Some men didn't really believe that the women brewers were witches. However, many did believe that women shouldn't be spending their time making beer. The process took time and dedication: hours to prepare the ale, sweep the floors clean and lift heavy bundles of rye and grain. If women couldn't brew ale, they would have significantly more time at home to raise their children. In the 1500s some towns, such as Chester, England, actually made it illegal for most women to sell beer, worried that young alewives would grow up into old spinsters.[Continues . . .]
QuoteRecently the History Channel launched a video that appeared to claim that our modern pop culture depictions of witches were rooted in the garb and tools of alewives, and that this creation came about in the 16th century. From the pointed hat to the black feline companion, its brewsters, they claim, that are the cause of this portrayal.There's also a whole host of blog posts and news articles arguing that our modern pop culture depictions of witches come from medieval (so pre-16th century) alewives. I'm not going to link them, but they are easily found with a quick Google searchThere is only one problem. These arguments aren't historically accurate. At all.[Continues . . .]