History of Legal and Illegal Drugs from 1500 to 1700 A.D.

About the history of legal and illegal drugs from 1500 to 1700 A.D. in particular the use of opium, alcohol, tea, the Bible, coffee.

A Synoptic History of the Promotion and Prohibition of Drugs

c. 1500 According to J. D. Rolleston, a British medical historian, a medieval Russian cure for drunkenness consisted "in taking a piece of pork, putting it secretly into a Jew's bed for 9 days, and then giving it to the drunkard in a pulverized form, who will turn away from drinking as a Jew would from pork."

c. 1525 Paracelsus (1490-1541) introduces laudanum, or tincture of opium, into the practice of medicine.

1526 Six thousand copies of Tyndale's English Bible are printed at Worms and smuggled into England.

1529 Charles V (1500-1558), Holy Roman Emperor and ruler of The Netherlands, decrees that the "reading, purchasing, or possessing any proscribed books, or any New Testaments prohibited by the theologians of Louvain" are crimes, the punishments for which are that "the men be beheaded, the women buried alive, and the relapsed burned."

1536 William Tyndale, translator of the New Testament and the Pentateuch, is burned at the stake as a heretic, at Vilvorde Castle, near Brussels.

1559 Valdes's Spanish Index, decreeing the prohibition of all religious literature in the language of the people, is published. The penalty for possessing prohibited book is death.

1600 Shakespeare: "Falstaff . . . If I had a thousand sons, the/1st human principle I would teach them should/be, to foreswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack." ("Sack," a term now obsolete, referred to a type of wine.)

17th century The prince of the petty state of Waldeck pays 10 thalers to anyone who denounces a coffee drinker.

17th century In Russia, Czar Michael Federovitch executes anyone on whom tobacco is found. "Czar Alexei Mikhailovitch rules that anyone caught with tobacco should be tortured until he gives up the name of the supplier."

1601 The Spanish Dominican Alonso Giroi demands the complete prohibition of all religious books in the people's language.

1613 John Rolfe, the husband of the Indian princess Pocahontas, sends the 1st shipment of Virginia tobacco from Jamestown to England.

c. 1650 The use of tobacco is prohibited in Bavaria, Saxony, and Zurich, but the prohibitions are ineffective. Sultan Murad IV of the Ottoman Empire decrees the death penalty for smoking tobacco: "Wherever the Sultan went on his travels or on a military expedition his halting-places were always distinguished by a terrible increase in the number of executions. Even on the battlefield he was fond of surprising men in the act of smoking, when he would punish them by beheading, hanging, quartering, or crushing their hands and feet . . . . Nevertheless, in spite of all the horrors of this persecution . . . the passion for smoking still persisted."

1680 Thomas Sydenham (1624-1680): "Among the remedies which it has pleased the Almighty God to give to man to relieve his sufferings, none is so universal and so efficacious as opium."

1690 The "Act for the Encouraging of the Distillation of Brandy and Sprits from Corn" is enacted in England.

1691 In Luneberg, Germany, the penalty for smoking (tobacco) is death.

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