During the Thirty Years War, which did significant damage to the cities and population of Europe, one little town held its own, at least in pride. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which was a free imperial city during the Middle Ages (wich means it was relatively politically autonomous), was sacked in 1631 by a Catholic army, 40,000 strong. The city was left virtually empty, but the people of Rothenburg maintain a different story to this day.
According to them, the leader of the Catholic troops, a Count Tilly, offered the city amnesty if one of their councillors could drink a gallon of wine in one sitting. Burgermeister Nusch agreed to the challenge and successfully downed the whole gallon. The city was saved, and public service took on new meaning for the townsfolk.
Now, even if the story is obviously untrue, I think Rothenburg gets the prize for the best excuse to drink. The town celebrates the story every year with its own re-enactment; I wonder how far in advance the actors practice for the “Meistertrunk,” as they call it.
(Pictured above: a reconstructed scene of the “Meistertrunk” at Rothenburg’s Imperial Museum. Pictured below: Outside the Imperial Museum, at certain hours of the day, these clock figures emerge and perform a mechanical replay of the “Meistertrunk.”)