The Emperor Charlemagne (AD 742-814), the great Christian ruler, considered beer as essential for moderate living, and personally trained the realm's brewmasters. King Arthur served his Knights of the Round Table with beer called bragget.
Even in medieval times, beer was generally brewed by women. Being the cooks, they had responsibility for beer which was regarded as 'food-drink'. After the monasteries had established the best methods of brewing, the 'ale-wives' took the responsibility for further brewing.
In England at this time a chequered flag indicated a place where ale and beer could be purchased.
Of course few people other than the clergy could read or write, and a written sign would have been of little use.
Many events of this era incorporate the word 'ale', reflecting its importance in society. Brides traditionally sold ale on their wedding day to defray the expenses - hence 'bride-ale' which became 'bridal'. The Christmas expression 'yule-tide' actually means 'ale-tide'.
Saint Thomas A'Becket, martyred archbishop of Canterbury, was selected as patron saint of one of the London Guilds, the Brewers' Company. When he went to France in 1158 to seek the hand of a French princess for Prince Henry of England, he took several barrels of British ale as gifts.
Beer was also handed out free of charge to weary travelers when the Wayfarer Dole was established in England. A Pilgrim's Dole of ale and bread can still be claimed by all wayfarers at the Hospital of St Cross, Winchester, England. This is said to have been founded by William of Wykeham, (1367-1404), and was claimed by Emerson, the American essayist, when visiting Winchester.
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