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Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll

Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll: Youth Culture and Masculinity during Holland's Golden Age

Benjamin B. Roberts
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 318
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  • Book Info
    Sex and Drugs before Rock 'n' Roll
    Book Description:

    Sex and Drugs Before the Rock 'n' Roll is a fascinating volume that presents an engaging overview of what it was like to be young and male in the Dutch Golden Age. Here, well-known cohorts of Rembrandt are examined for the ways in which they expressed themselves by defying conservative values and norms. This study reveals how these young men rebelled, breaking from previous generations: letting their hair grow long, wearing colorful clothing, drinking excessively, challenging city guards, being promiscuous, smoking, and singing lewd songs. Cogently argued, this study paints a compelling portrait of the youth culture of the Dutch Golden Age, at a time when the rising popularity of print made dissemination of new cultural ideas possible, while rising incomes and liberal attitudes created a generation of men behaving badly. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1570-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-8)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-12)
    (pp. 15-30)

    On a December night in 1629, Otto Copes and two friends were completely drunk. The 18-year-old law student at the University of Groningen was 120 miles away from the watchful eye of his uncle, a magistrate in ’s Hertogenbosch, a city in the generality lands of the Dutch Republic. Earlier in the day, he and two friends had been seen drinking in a tavern. However, by nightfall, their student merrymaking had turned into an orgy of binge drinking and violent aggression. Their noisiness attracted the attention of the city’s municipal guard who tried to temper their high-spiritedness. After mustering up...

  4. CHAPTER 1 The Generation of the 1620s and 1630s
    (pp. 33-42)

    While strolling along Leiden’s seventeenth-century Rapenburg canal today and standing in front of the unversity’s academic building, it feels as if time has stood still for the last 400 years. The differences between students from 1620 and now are also slight: in 2010 the average age of a male student enrolling at the university was 18 to 19 years old. The student today is likely to choose a major in the humanities, and the most common first name for a male student is Kevin, followed by Thomas and Jeroen. The young man is likely to come from a middle-class background.¹...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Appearance and Clothing in the 1620s and 1630s
    (pp. 45-72)

    One of the most notorious members of the generation of young men from the 1620s and 1630s was the son of a miller from Leiden, Rembrandt van Rijn. In an early self-portrait from 1629, the young 23-year-old painter illustrated himself with long bushy hair, draped with a lock of hair slightly longer on the left side. His face is bare without any signs of a beard. He is wearing a gorget – a metal coat, hinged at the neck, that covered the upper torso, similar to the ones worn by cuirassiers. In many aspects his portrait is telling about what young...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Drinking Like a Man
    (pp. 75-98)

    When 25-year-old Hobbe van Baerdt and his 22-year-old bride, Apollonia van Viersen, married on March 16th, 1617, the wedding guests sang this verse composed by Jan Jansz. Starter. The song was later included in his popular songbook,Friesche Lust-Hof, which was published in 1621. Drinking songs composed for marriages were common in the early seventeenth century, and drinking songs also stimulated young wedding guests to drink too much. Moralists warned parents and young men of the dangers ofwijntje, trijntje– the Dutch expression for drunkenness leading to sex.Wijntje, trijntjesummed up excessive drinking and promiscuity. For health reasons, children...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Violence
    (pp. 101-138)

    As ships entered into Amsterdam’s harbor in the early seventeenth century, each sailor, merchant, and visitor to the city could easily view the criminals dangling from the gallows on the opposite shore. Like a giant billboard, the location known as Volewijk, where the main office of the Shell Company now stands, warned newcomers to the city as well as its residents that Amsterdam’s magistrate penalized violators who did not abide by municipal laws. The cadavers hanging from the gallows transmitted a pedagogical message. Criminals guilty of offenses were publicly executed on Amsterdam’s main square, the Dam Square. Unlike other European...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Sexuality and Courting
    (pp. 141-168)

    In 1636, Barent Hendricx, a 27-year-old caffa worker in Delft, married Sara Jans. The couple had five children. However, Sara was not the first woman Barent had sex with. In 1624, when he was 15 years old, he was arrested together with Geertgen Gerrits, a woman from Hamburg with whom he had fornicated. Barent was not prosecuted, but the older Geertgen was banned from the city for 25 years, not only because she was probably a prostitute, but most likely because she had seduced a minor.¹ Teenagers interested in sex were not uncommon in the early seventeenth century. InSchilder-konst...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Drugs?
    (pp. 171-184)

    According to the Italian cultural historian Piero Camporesi, much of early modern Europe lived in a drugged state, accidentally induced by famine or from eating moldy bread and stale food, or sometimes deliberately by consuming fermented drinks, mushrooms, poppy seeds, and other distillations or sniffing lotions, oils, and other essences.¹ People throughout history, especially the young who were receptive to novelty, experimented with recreational substances to reach a narcotic state. In the late Middle Ages, brewers spiked beers with herbs such as black henbane seed, thorn apples and belladonna for their hallucinogenic effects, and in the 1660s young men visited...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Recreation before Rock ‘n’ Roll
    (pp. 187-212)

    During the 1950s and 1960s, the notion of Rock ’n’ Roll became synonymous with the recreational indulgences of young people, usually done in excess. It would be anachronistic to refer the leisure habits of young people in the 1620s and 1630s with the same terminology and verve. On the other hand, we cannot disregard the fact that young people in the early seventeenth century did indulge in extravagances that in some cases resulted in excessive behavior. In the re-worked seventeenth-century tourist guideAmsterdam voor vijf duiten per dag[Amsterdam on Five Pennies a Day] (2011), Maarten Hell and Emma Los...

    (pp. 215-224)

    In the 30 years that passed between 1620 and 1650, the world changed drastically. The Dutch Republic gained its independence from Spain with the treaty signed at Westphalia in 1648. The prosperity and economic growth of the early part of the century began to wane. Peace throughout Europe also brought economic hard times to the Republic, as the trade in armaments, weapons, and supplies had proved to be lucrative for Dutch merchants. The economic conjuncture went into decline, social mobility became more rigid, and the Dutch Reformed Church began to recognize its failure at not becoming a state church as...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 225-268)
    (pp. 269-272)
    (pp. 273-308)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 309-318)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 319-319)