Jean Nicot (1530 – May 4, 1600) was a French diplomat and scholar.
Born in Nîmes, in the south of France, he was French ambassador in Lisbon, Portugal from 1559 to 1561.
Jean Nicot was 29-years-old in 1559 when he was sent from France to Portugal to negotiate the marriage of six-year-old Princess Marguerite de Valois to five-year-old King Sebastian of Portugal.
When Nicot returned, he brought tobacco plants. He introduced snuff to the French court. The queen mother, Catherine de' Medici, became an instant tobacco convert. The plant was also an instant success with the Father Superior of Malta, who shared tobacco with all of his monks. More and more of the fashionable people of Paris began to use the plant, making Nicot a celebrity.
At first, the plant was called Nicotina. But nicotine later came to refer only to the particular chemical in the plant.
The tobacco plant, Nicotiana, also a flowering garden plant, is named after him, as is nicotine. Nicot described its medicinal properties (1559) and sent it as a medicine to the French court.
Jean Nicot also compiled one of the first French dictionaries Thresor de la langue françoyse tant ancienne que moderne (published in 1606).
Linnaeus named the genus Nicotonia , which contains two species of tobacco, after Jean Nicot. When organic chemists isolated the active ingredients from mind altering herbs, they used the sufix -ine to indicate their organic nature. The chemist who isolated nicotine from tobacco named it after Jean Nicot .
Full article ▸