History, Use, Composition and Manufacturing of Eau de Cologne at the time that Napoleon I was staying on the island of Saint Helena

L'Empereur Napoléon 1er Jean Marie FARINA



In 1725, JEAN-PAUL FEMINIS, of Italian origin, fastens to COLOGNE to prepare and trade his « EAU ADMIRABLE » or « AQUA DE REGINA » which he says having got the recipe from a monk of Orient. But, since the 14th century, this formula was already prepared in the SANTA MARIA NOVELLIA convent in FLORENCE, and was a great success. However, it is established that Jean-Paul FEMINIS knew well a nun of this convent, SAINTE MARIE CLEMENTINE.





L'Empereur Napoléon 1er Madame Du BARRY

JEAN-MARIE FARINA, his nephew, joins him in COLOGNE to assist him. They change the name of their “EAU” and call it now " AQUA COLONIENSIS " or EAU DE COLOGNE and distribute it worldwide.


In 1760, the EAU DE COLOGNE JEAN-MARIE FARINA was introduced into France.


The future NAPOLEON 1st is born in 1769; at the same time, Mme DU BARRY introduced the EAU DE COLOGNE JEAN-MARIE FARINA as toilet fragrance at "the perfumed Court" of Louis XV (1769-1774).


The success of the EAU DE COLOGNE will strongly grow in the ensuing years.




L'Empereur Napoléon 1er

The « EAU DE COLOGNE » was used, at that time, so INTERNALLY thanEXTERNALLY::

: This formula, elaborated in a convent by virtue of its therapeutic properties, like the "Cordial of Melissa of Carmes", is active or supposed such against many diseases: nausea, vomiting, difficult digestion and dyspepsia; ulcer and gastric hyperacidity; hepatic insufficiencies; fever; rheumatisms; scurvy; spasms, colic and intestinal infections; even against intestinal parasites ... and impotence.

Essential oils that compose it are effectively powerful recognized antiseptics.

: For the scent of the body, of course, but also, by friction, as antiseptic, healing and anti-pruritic remedy; as muscular stimulant and venous tonic; against insects bites and disagreeable effects of the perspiration. Equally, as antiseptic of respiratory tracts by inhalation of essential oils volatilized at the contact of the skin.

THE EAU DE COLOGNE was then, much more than a simple perfume, the basic component of a personal pharmacy.




The « EAUX DE COLOGNE » of this period are perfumes of luxury and good taste whose bouquet is fine and discreet.

They were constituted by a mix of aurantiaceae and labiatae essential oils, flowered with infusions of Orange-blossoms; the whole being dissolved in the "Spirit of Wine".

The "Spirit of Wine" is simply ethylic alcohol.

Galenically, they are Alcoholates, that is to say a liquid obtained by distillation of alcohol on an aromatic substance or an alcohol loaded with volatile principles of an or several aromatic substances. A lot can be transformed into liquor by addition of sugar.

It was very widespread and researched remedies.

For example the Alcoholate of Rosemary was called "Eau of the Queen of Hungary", because it had, told one, transformed a septuagenarian princess, paralytic and gouty in a seductive young girl who was asked in marriage by the King of Hungary. They are equally present in the composition of the "Vinegar of the Four Thieves".



L'Empereur Napoléon 1er Raymond LULLE


The distillation is the fundamental galenical act for a such preparation.

For the "Spirit of Wine", Raymond LULLE, the "Illuminated Doctor", nickname logically not usurped so researchers have, all times, implied personally in their works, indicated in the 13th century how to obtain the "AQUA ARDENS": it suffices to put the wine in the bain-marie of an alembic and to collect the first fractions distilled.


By re - distillation, this alcohol is rectified, so its degree is carried around 90°, necessary to well dissolve Essential Oils in sufficient quantity.






L'Empereur Napoléon 1er Alambic

To obtain Essential Oils, dive a part of fresh plants in three parts of boiling water in the cucurbit of an alembic, then add promptly the head and the refrigerant, and distil until there is no longer Essential Oils. These remains above the aromatic water in the reaping receptacle and have to be removed with a pipette.


Then mix the « SPIRIT OF WINE » with Essential Oils in good proportions.

An artisanal manufacture of "Eau de Cologne" was therefore possible, according to this simple technique, at LONGWOOD by ALI, such ROBINSON CRUSOE recreating, with local resources and some saved objects, the conditions of his life in the world that he frequented before its wreck.



Jean-François MARCILLY