Rudolf II (Holy Roman Emperor) painted as Vertumnus, Roman God of the seasons, c.1590-1
Did Absinthe start life in Prague in the 1500s? This article in an respected Australian newspaper seems to suggest that it did.
Absinthe: “The drink’s origins are disputed: wormwood distillations started in Bohemia (the Czech Republic) in the 1500s, but they appeared in France and Switzerland around the 1750s. Modern absinthe dates from 1792, when Dr Pierre Ordinaire commercialised it as a cure-all. Then Henri-Louis Pernod founded the Pernod Fils absinthe company in 1805, seeing its aperitif potential. Absinthe’s moment came with the 1840s Algerian wars, when French soldiers drank it as a prophylactic against disease. They brought it home, and by the 1860s Parisian cafes had established 5pm as l’heure verte – “the green hour”.
Source: Bohemian Green by Felicity Carter, The Age
One interesting possibility is that wormwood distillation began under Rudolph II, The Holy Roman Emperor. Rudoplh’s reign (1552-1612) was marked by a scientific revolution in the Bohemian lands (now Czech Republic). Rudolf was fascinated by the subjects of alchemy and science and attracted the greatest minds – along with their stills – to Prague. Names like John Dee and Edward Kelley may not mean much today, but they were the leading alchemists of the age. Rudolph himself maintained an extensive laboratory.