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The World of the Tavern in Early Modern Europe

Welcome to the home page of the MA Seminar:

The World of the Tavern in Early Modern Europe:

Conceptual Approaches in Transnational Perspective


This module uses public houses as windows into socio-cultural transformations in early modern Europe (particularly England and the Holy Roman Empire between c. 1400-1800). Based on a broad spectrum of primary sources (registers, travel reports, visual evidence), secondary works and wider theoretical / conceptual approaches, short lectures, student (group) presentations, team tasks and plenary discussions (in English) will explore the multifunctional role of drinking establishments in transnational perspective. During this ‘golden age’, public houses moved beyond their core services to become nodal points of local and long-distance exchange. As public stages in face-to-face societies, they were instrumental for the negotiation of personal reputations. Following introductory surveys of sources and historiography, classes will explore aspects like regulation (in the context of state-building), communication structures and emerging public sphere, gendered notions of honour, church-tavern relations (in the age of confessionalization), the constitution of space and political instrumentalization (for local government services as well as the articulation of ‘hidden transcripts’).

This Blockveranstaltung is equivalent to a Masterstudiengang Seminar and will be assessed through a presentation and oral exam. In assessing performance, the main emphasis will be on content and argumentation rather than language skills.

Module Structure

1. Introduction (1 2-hour session): Themes, presentation topics and general organization: Friday 11 November 2011 (13-14 hours; mandatory)

2. Block 1 (6 sessions): ‘Patrons, Consumers & Good Fellows’ (Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 December 2011; times/rooms as advertised on ekVV)

- 'Run by the poor for the poor'? A Social Profile of Public House Patrons: Annika Müller
- Women and the early modern public house: Kristine Trenkenschu
- Public houses and the early modern 'communication revolution': Nadia Jassani
- Should the 'invention' of the restaurant be seen as a culinary revolution? Vanessa Funke
- Did early modern Europeans drink too much alcohol? Erwin Eckert

3. Block 2 (6 sessions): ‘Politics, Religion and Crime’ (Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 December 2011; times/rooms as advertised on ekVV)

- Were public houses 'political' spaces? Anne Diekjobst
- Were early modern clergymen right to be worried about public houses? Stefanie Wistuba

4. Individual tutorials (Wednesday morning 21 December 2011, 10-12, in S4-220)

5. Oral exam (Friday 3 February 2012, 10-12, in S4-220)

Preparatory Reading

[Available in StudIP]

James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, 1990), chapter ‘5. Making Space for a Dissident Subculture'
Phil Withington, ‘Company and Sociability in Early Modern England’, Social History 32 (2007), 291-307.

Core Materials

[Most items available in Universitätsbibliothek or StudIP]

Primary Source Collection

Brennan, T. E. (ed.), Public Drinking in the Early Modern World 1500-1800: Voices from the Tavern (4 vols, London, 2011), esp. vols 2-3: Holy Roman Empire, eds B. Kümin & B. A. Tlusty [typescript extracts available from module tutor]



Beneder, B., Männerort Gasthaus? Öffentlichkeit als sexualisierter Raum (Frankfurt, 1997)

Brennan, T. E., Public Drinking and Popular Culture in Eighteenth-Century Paris (Princeton, 1988)

Burke, P., Europäische Volkskultur in der frühen Neuzeit, trans. Susanne Schenda (Stuttgart, 1981)

Clark, P., The English Alehouse: A Social History (London, 1988)

Cowan, Brian, The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse (New Haven, 2005)

Dürr, R.; Schwerhoff, G. (eds), ‘Kirchen, Märkte und Tavernen: Erfahrungs- und Handlungsräume in der Frühen Neuzeit‘, [=Sondernummer von] Zeitsprünge: Forschungen zur Frühen Neuzeit Band 9 (3-4/2005)

Earnshaw, Steven, The Pub in Literature: England’s Altered State (Manchester, 2000)

Elias, N., Über den Prozess der Zivilisation (2 vols, Frankfurt, 1997 [or other edn])

Kümin, Beat, Drinking Matters: Public Houses and Social Exchange in Early Modern Central Europe (Basingstoke, 2007)

“ ; Tlusty, B.A. (eds), The World of the Tavern: Public Houses in Early Modern Europe (Aldershot, 2002)

Martin, L.A., Alcohol, Sex and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Basingstoke, 2001)

“ , Alcohol, Violence, and Disorder in Traditional Europe. Early Modern Studies Series, v. 2. (Kirksville: Truman State University Press, 2009)

Muchembled, R., Kultur des Volkes – Kultur der Eliten (Stuttgart, 1984)

Peyer, Hans Conrad (ed.), Gastfreundschaft, Taverne und Gasthaus im Mittelalter [Hospitality, Inns and Taverns in the Middle Ages], Schriften des Historischen Kollegs (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1983)

„ , Von der Gastfreundschaft zum Gasthaus: Studien zur Gastlichkeit im Mittelalter (Hannover, 1987)

Rau, S.; Schwerhoff, G. (eds), Zwischen Gotteshaus und Taverne. Öffentliche Räume in Spätmittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, Norm und Struktur 21 (Cologne: Böhlau, 2004)

Scott, James C., Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, 1990)

Spang, R., The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture (Cambridge/Mass., 2000)

Tlusty, B. A., Bacchus und die bürgerliche Ordnung. Die Kultur des Trinkens im frühneuzeitlichen Augsburg, trans. Helmut Graser, Studien zur Geschichte des Bayerischen Schwaben, vol. 34 (Augsburg, Wißner-Verlag, 2005)


Specialized essays [mostly available in StudIP]

Brown, J. R., 'Drinking houses and the politics of surveillance in pre-industrial Southampton', in: B. Kümin (ed.), Political Space in Pre-industrial Europe (Farnham, 2009), 61-80

Clark, Peter, Politics, the City and the Popular Drinking House in Early Modern Europe’, in S. Ehrenpreis et al. (eds), Wege der Neuzeit. Festschrift für Heinz Schilling zum 65. Geburtstag ( Berlin, 2007), 621-638

Fumerton, Patricia, 'Not home: Alehouses, ballads, and the vagrant husband in early modern England', The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 32 (3/2002), 493-518

Gieryn, T., 'A space for place in sociology’, in: Annual Review of Sociology 26 (2000), 463-96

Hailwood, M., 'Alehouses, popular politics and plebeian agency in early modern England', in: F. Williamson (ed.), Locating Agency: Space, Power and Popular Politics (Newcastle, 2010), 51-76

Hanawalt, Barbara A., 'The Host, the Law, and the Ambiguous Space of Medieval London Taverns', in her Of Good and Ill Repute. Gender and Social Control in Medieval England (Oxford, 1998), 104-123

Kümin, B., 'Eating out before the restaurant: Dining cultures in early modern inns', in: P. Scholliers and M. Jacobs (eds), Eating Out in Europe Since the Late Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 2003), 71-87

“ , ‘Sacred church and worldly tavern: Reassessing an early modern divide’, in: W. Coster and A. Spicer (eds), Sacred Space in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2005), 17-38

“ ., ‘Iconographical approaches to the early modern public house’, in: Food & History 7 (2/2009) , 29-42

McShane Jones, Angela, ‘Roaring royalists and ranting brewers: The politicisation of drink and drunkenness in political broadside ballads from 1640 to 1689’, in: A. Smyth (ed.), A Pleasing Sinne (Woodbrige, 2004), ch. 5

O’Callaghan, Michelle, ‘Tavern societies, the Inns of Court, and the culture of conviviality in early seventeenth-century London’, in A. Smyth (ed.), A Pleasing Sinne (Woodbrige, 2004), 37-51

Pennell, S., "Great quantities of gooseberry pye and baked clod of beef": victualling and eating out in early modern London', in: P. Griffiths and M. Jenner (eds), Londinopolis (Manchester, 2000), 228-49

Porter, Roy, ‘The drinking man’s disease: The “pre-history” of alcoholism in Georgian Britain’, British Journal of Addiction 80 (1985), 385-96

Pearson, M.P., Richards, C., 'Perceptions of Architecture', in: idem (eds), Architecture and Order: Approaches to Social Space (London: Routledge, 1994)

Schindler, N., ‘Skandal in der Kirche, oder: Die Strategien der kleinstädtischen Ehrbarkeit im ausgehenden 17. Jahrhundert’, in: Salzburg Archiv 26 (1999), 53-110

Shepard, A., Alexandra, ‘“Swil-bolls and tos-pots”: drink culture and male bonding in England, c.1560-1640’, in Laura Gowing, Michael Hunter, Miri Rubin (eds), Love, Friendship and Faith in Europe, 1300–1800 (Basingstoke, 2005)

Teuteberg, H.J., ‘Homo edens: Reflexionen zu einer neuen Kulturgeschichte des Essens’, in: Historische Zeitschrift 265 (1997), 1-28

Tlusty, B.A., 'Crossing gender boundaries. Women as drunkards in early modern Augsburg', in: Sybille Backmann et al. (eds), Ehrkonzepte in der frühen Neuzeit (Berlin: Akademie, 1998), 185-198

Withington, Phil, ‘Company and Sociability in Early Modern England’, in: Social History 32 (3/2007), 291-307


Further Resources

Fuller bibliography of primary and secondary literature

Digital resources




Prof. Dr. Beat Kümin


Module Forum

Post information, comments and materials on the forum (rules)



Sign of the former 'Golden Falcon' inn at Bern in the Swiss Confederation (1734)