27 Jul: Raleigh’s Tobacco Adventures
Rerun. Sir Walter Raleigh brought tobacco back to Britain from Virginia on 27th July 1586 – and, in so doing, triggered a craze for smoking, which at the time was considered a tonic for halitosis, and even a cure for cancer.
Despite Queen Elizabeth I being an advocate for the new drug, it didn’t take long for the anti-tobacco movement to kick into gear – with King James I writing a treatise against smoking by 1604.
In this episode, Olly, Rebecca and Arion revisit the phenomenon of ‘Dry Drunkenness’; explain why Eton’s schoolboys were prescribed tobacco with their breakfast; and reveal what happened to Raleigh’s head after he was executed…
• Bob Newhart’s Walter Raleigh sketch (1962): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XDxAzVEbN4
• ‘“This vile custome”: a history of tobacco’s medical interpretations’ (Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh): https://www.rcpe.ac.uk/heritage/vile-custome-history-tobaccos-medical-interpretations
• ‘Discovery of velvet bag may solve gory mystery of Walter Raleigh’s missing head’ (The Guardian, 2018): https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/28/walter-raleigh-bag-severed-head-gory-mystery
‘Why am I hearing a rerun?’ Every Thursday is ‘Throwback Thursday’ on Today in History with the Retrospectors: running one repeat per week means we can keep up the quality of our independent podcast. Daily shows like this require a lot of work! But as ever we’ll have something new for you tomorrow, so follow us wherever you get your podcasts: podfollow.com/Retrospectors