Queen of Hungary Water
I love a good story, particularly when aromatics are the heroines. The truth behind the legend of the Queen of Hungary’s Water is long lost to the mists of time, leaving behind intriguing whispers of a beautiful queen, reclusive monks and magical alchemists.
Queen of Hungary's Water was the first alcohol-based perfume to appear in written records. The story of its origin varies, but its thought to have been formulated around the late 14th century. The identity of the Hungarian queen herself is also a mystery, referred to variously as Isabelle or Elisabeth. My favourite version of the legend is that the aging queen, terrified about loosing her looks, commanded the court alchemist to make a potion to preserve her youthful beauty. The result was such a success that at the grand old age of seventy, a twenty five year old duke asked for her hand in marriage. Plot variations include the perfume being gifted to the queen by a reclusive monk or wandering gypsies. I even found one reference saying that the original recipe was believed to cure joint paralysis.
What is known is that this perfume was hugely popular in 17th century Europe, only falling out of favor when a new scent, Eau de Cologne, was invented many years later.
So what was this fabled perfume made of? Inevitably...
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