Bridgerton: What is snuff?

Queen Charlotte in Bridgerton
Bridgerton viewers want to know more about snuff. Pic credit: Netflix

In Bridgerton, the new Netflix offering from Shondaland, Queen Charlotte (played by a highly engaging Golda Rosheuvel) enjoys her snuff. This initially happens during Shock and Delight, the second episode of the eight-part series.

Mad King George’s missus is entertaining Daphne’s mother, the Bridgerton matriarch, for tea when she delights in placing the stuff on the back of her hand to snort it up Her Majesty’s delicate nose.

What was Queen Charlotte sniffing?

What appears to be the Monarch sniffing cocaine is actually the Queen of England sniffing period-correct snuff. The tobacco substance was a popular treat that originally went across the Atlantic with Christopher Columbus at the end of his second voyage to the Americas in the 1490s, according to History Extra.

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After Spain sucked up the snuff, the stimulating practice “spread throughout Europe and by the 1700s snuff was considered a luxury product and mark of refinement,” states the source.

History Extra stated that Georgian dandies were who typically took part in this practice, but women were also fond of snuff.

In fact, the Queen of England under King George III’s “was so fond of it that she earned the nickname ‘Snuffy Charlotte.'”

Queen Charlotte was not a coke fiend

Since snuff was made of tobacco, that meant Queen Charlotte was not a coke fiend after all. She was simply a connoisseur of the dark tobacco that originally was thought to bring medicinal properties. This theory turned out to be a myth.

In reality, the snuff of the 1800s was made from dried tobacco. A mortar and pestle was used to grind the tobacco into a substance fine enough to suck up a person’s nose.

Sometimes snuff was flavored, often with cinnamon but also with lavender or orange blossoms, according to Clay Adams, a history scholar who commented via Quora.

“The most common [way to ingest snuff] was for the user to take a ‘small pinch’ and put it on the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger and then to inhale it through one or both nostrils in turn. The result was often a violent sneeze, but at the same time, a ‘tobacco high’ was instantaneous. Adroit users could eat and drink while maintaining their ‘load,'” Adams suggested.

Although it wasn’t clear whether or not Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte was on much of a high, if any, she did ask for more snuff during her scene with Lady Bridgerton.

She also neglected to offer the coveted snuff to her guest so perhaps when outsiders had tea at the behest of the Queen, they were supposed to bring their own if they wished to partake.

Snuffy Charlotte, indeed.

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