During the middle ages, plants were used to protect against disease and epidemics whereas perfumes from the Orient whispered of carnal pleasures.
The crusaders brought back from the Orient new raw materials and fragrance techniques. Following in the footprints of the Chinese and the Arabs, European alchemists discovered ethyl alcohol and distillation.
The travels of Marco Polo gave a tremendous boost to the spice trade. It was believed that pleasant smells had disinfectant properties and protected against epidemics. The wealthy carried around "fragrance balls" filled with musk, amber or aromatic resins.
The use of fragrance ushered in a new art of living. Poets celebrated femininity with passion. In spite of a stern warning from the Church, the gentlemen and their ladies of the times used sensual, scented baths to indulge in carnal pleasures.
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