History of tobacco in Europe
In Europe, tobacco was first described by the first chroniclers of the Indies. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdez, in his work Historia General de las Indias (Seville, 1535), writes: «Among other reprehensible customs the Indians have one that is especially harmful and that consists of the absorption of a certain kind of smoke along which they call ‘tobacco’ to produce a state of stupor.
For Europeans, tobacco was discovered by two Spanish sailors who, following orders from Columbus, were exploring the interior of the island of Cuba, a month after the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa María made landfall. The beaches of San Salvador were the scene of the discovery; When the two sailors reached the shore, the natives welcomed them with fruits, wooden javelins and certain “dry leaves that gave off a peculiar fragrance.”
Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de la Torre, companions of Christopher Columbus, were the first Westerners to know of their existence. Rodrigo, on his return to Spain, was imprisoned by the Inquisition accused of witchcraft, since only the devil could give a man the power to draw smoke through the mouth.
Columbus was surprised by the use of tobacco in religious and social ceremonies, because for the Indians tobacco possessed magical powers and pleased the gods. Tobacco was considered a panacea: it was used to combat asthma, fevers and convulsions, intestinal and nervous disorders, and even animal bites.
By order of Felipe II, Hernández de Boncalo, chronicler and historian of the Indies, was the one who brought the first tobacco seeds that arrived in Europe in 1559. These seeds were planted in lands located around Toledo, in an area called los cigarrales, because they used to be invaded by cicada pests. There the cultivation of tobacco began in Europe and, for this reason, some historians maintain that the name of cigar comes from this circumstance.
After a few years, around 1560 tobacco was already known in Spain and Portugal. The French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot de Villemain (1530 – 1600d.c), aware of the many medicinal properties of tobacco, sent it to his queen, Catherine de Medici, as snuff powder, to relieve her headaches (Charlton, 2004; Pascual and Vicéns, 2004), and that is why tobacco was called “queen’s herb”, “nicotiana” or “ambassador’s herb”.
Catherine de ‘Medici suffered from severe headaches and listened to the ambassador when he recommended that she take the plant in the form of snuff. The pain disappeared and tobacco began to be used as a medicine in France and the rest of Europe. When Linnaeus published his SpeciesPlantorum, he chose the scientific name Nicotianatabacum in homage to Nicot.
The etymology of the word tobacco is controversial. One version proposes that “tobacco” comes from the place where the plant was discovered, be it Tobago, an Antillean island, or the Mexican town of Tabasco. The most consistent version is that it comes from the Arabic “tabbaq”, a name that was applied in Europe since at least the 15th century to various medicinal plants.
In 1584, Walter Raleigh founded the colony of Virginia in North America, copied from the natives the custom of pipe smoking and began the cultivation of the famous tobacco from that territory, which was introduced in England in the time of Elizabeth I. A few years later, tobacco had become the main economic resource of the English colonies. The great sea voyages of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries around the world contributed to carry tobacco and the habit of smoking to the coasts of Asia, Africa and Oceania.
In Japan, Russia, China and Turkey, tobacco use was initially fought with drastic measures, to the point that Sultan Murad IV had numerous smokers executed and, in 1638, the Chinese authorities threatened to behead tobacco traffickers. . Over time, the Turks entered the world tobacco market and became heavy smokers, just like the Chinese.
Origin and history of the sacred Tobacco