Perfumes in 18th century France


Patrick Süskind sets his novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer in a time when scents were quite important.  The term "perfume" comes from the Latin "per fumum" and means "through the smoke".

In 18th century Versailles, perfume was used lavishly and without moderation. The court of King Louis XV was called the "Court of Perfume". A law even prescribed the use of perfume.

At the time of King Louis XIV (1643-1715), bathing was considered unhealthy, and it was generally uncommon to wash. The water at that time was suspected of carrying and spreading diseases. The water was believed to soften the pores of the skin, which lead  the penetration of pathogens into the human organism. The general view of the time was that a layer of dirt, on the other hand, provided protection for the body.

The members of the court of the Sun King did not wash, but used perfume on themselves. To cover body odors, fine fragrances were needed. Both men and women used perfume and cosmetics. For example, rival women at the court used a different scent every day to emphasize their own status. Clothes and wigs o...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of PrimeStudyGuides.com, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in