British university students may have begun the binge drinking culture in England, a study reveals.
According to Dr Phil Withington, a Cambridge University history lecturer, their predecessors from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries sparked the nation's love affair with intoxication.
Dr Withington said that conversational skills consequently became an "art form" that could make or break their social lives and alcohol helped loosen the tongue when indulging in witty, memorable social intercourse.
"There's an assumption among historians that drunkenness during early modernity became inappropriate for civil behaviour and excessive consumption was the reserve of the common poor," the Daily Mail quoted the historian as saying.
"But there's a huge amount of evidence that you needed to be affluent to indulge in vast quantities of alcohol and the new wave of educated elite led the charge."
"The expansion in education and literacy had an obvious effect on politics and law but the implications for English drinking habits were also significant."Students learned not just to study but to drink, which became integral to male bonding, camaraderie and rites of passage," he added.