A serious discovery in perfume production came in medieval Italy, when they determined how to create aqua mirabilis, a clear substance made of 95 percent alcohol and infused with strong scent. Liquid perfume was born. After this invention, Italy — Venice in particular — became the center of the world perfume trade for several hundred years.

Leather glovesCatherine de Medici, who as an Italian bride wed to the French king had her own perfume made up for her by her Italian parfumier, Rene le Florentin – a scented water with bergamot and orange blossom. He also created musk and civet-scented gloves for her, which were a sensation, bringing the perfumes of Italy to France. (Note: the leather glove making process created a soft but smelly product, gloves were treated with perfumes to kill the smell. And in turn, Catherine de Medici was accused of using the perfumed gloves to hide poison.)


Perfume use peaked in England during the reigns of Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) and Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603). Ladies of the day took great pride in creating delightful fragrances and they displayed their skill in mixing scents.

As with industry and the arts, perfume underwent profound change in the 19th century. Changing tastes and the development of modern chemistry laid the foundations of modern perfumery. Alchemy gave way to chemistry (synthetic compounds) and new fragrances were created.

Thank you to JR Thorpe, Wikipedia, perfume.com, perfumesociety.org

Independent UK: Sense and Sensibility – The History of Perfume