Rosemary was greatly esteemed by the Greeks and Romans,2) and also by the Arabians.3) Like the laurel, rosemary was employed by the former as a decorative plant in religious rites and in hero cult. In as much as the plant was not used for medicinal or other practical purposes, rosemary was given but little attention in midaeval literature. However, it received prominent mention in the Capitulare of Charlemagne of 812; among the seventy-three economic plants recommended therein also in the drug inventory of Platearius4) of the 12. century.
The first mention of the distillation of rosemary is found in the writings of Arnoldus Villanovus5) of the 13. century. He distilled, probably for medicinal purposes, turpentine oil and rosemary oil. An alcoholic distillate of both oils or of rosemary only was in use for centuries as the first popular perfume under the name of Hungarian water.6) The distillation of the oil is described more fully by Raimund Lullus,7) a disciple of Villanovus.
1) New York Medical Record 22 (1882), 505. - Squibb's Ephemeris (New York) 3 (1892), 950.
2) Dioscoridis De materia medica libri quinque. Editio Kuhn-Sprengel. 1829, p. 424.
3) Ibn el Baitar, Liber magnae collectionis simplicium alimentorum et medicamentorum. Translated by Jos. Sontheimer. Stuttgart 1840. Vol. 1, p. 73.
4) Matthai Platearii Liber de simplici medicina. In Choulant's Hand-buch der Biicherkunde fur die altere Medizin etc. Leipzig 1841. p. 229.
5) Arnoldi Villanovi Opera omnia. Cap. De vim's. Veneti 1595. p. 589 to 590.
6) Pp. 30 and 66. - Sapata, Mirabilia seu secreta medico-chirurgi per D. Spleissium. Ulm 1696. p. 49.
7) Postquam singuiorum individuorum dictorum lenlissimo igne aquas destillatae fuerit, amoto priori recipiente aquam destillatam optime occlu-sam servabis et annexo altero recipiente augebis ignem ut deinde destillet oleum cujusque, quod proiicias, quia nihil valet, excepto eo quod e rore marino extraxeris, quod servabis, cum in se aliquid virtutis contineat. - Raimundi Lulli Experimenta novissima. In Magnet's Bibliotheca chemica curiosa. Geneva; 1702. Vol. 1, fol. 829.
Oil of rosemary was a much used oil in the middle ages, and is often mentioned in the writings of that period. It is described in the index of the Compendium of Saladin1) at the end of the 15. century and in the works of Brunschwig,-) Ryff,3) Gesner,4) Porta,5) and others, and is mentioned in drug and spice ordinances of the 15. century. In several of the treatises on distillation, and in medical works of the 14. and 15. centuries, an empyreumatic oil of rosemary is also mentioned.6)
One of the first investigations of rosemary oil was made in 1720 by the Parisian apothecary CI. j. Geoffroy.7) A century later it was more fully investigated by Th. de Saussure,8) and in 1837 by Kane.9) In 1734 Cartheuser10) determined the yield of oil.
The so-called rosemary camphor was first noticed in 1685 by Joh. Kunkel11) of Berlin, and a century later (1785) by Arezula12) of Cadiz. Proust13) prepared it in 1800.