In the popular tale of “The Sleeping Beauty” by writer Charles Perrault, L’Eau de la Reine d’Hongrie (Hungary Water or Water of the Queen of Hungary) is clearly featured as a means to try to wake the sleeping princess, alas to no avail. A patch of rosemary for remembrance, fresh citrus and lush jasmine make the heart grow fonder. The recipe for L'Eau de la Reine d'Hongrie is a fascinating story to unravel.
The Queen Consort of Hungary, Elisabeth, also regent queen of Poland, used the cologne Eau de la Reine d’ Hongrie all her life, both using it on her skin and drinking it.
It was said that she owed her beauty and good health to it, to the point that she allegedly attracted a suitor when she was already 72 years old.
Her secret? A recipe, according to some sources, built in the 14th century, specifically in 1370, and as per other sources composed by Arnaud de Villeneuve in the 13th century. It is arguably the world's first eau de toilette. A recipe heavily relying on the invigorating powers of rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), a humble plant with a scent between mint and lavender, whose essential oil is used to this day to fight against cutaneous ageing. The miraculous reputation must have stuck for much longer than her lifetime, because fragrance companies continue to prepare fine fragrance inspired by the Renaissance recipe. Even the famous alchemist Alberto Magno (Albert the Great) advised taking a shot of this "eau" alongside some other liqueur or potion and rubbing down the body to rejuvenate.
As historians, however, we need to put things in perspective and dispel some of the tantalizingly promising tale of a miraculous elixir of youth. Elisabeth's regent status was not a bequest from a husband. It was thanks to her son, Louis de Hongrie, who became king of Poland. So whatever propositions make the stuff of legend are only that. And if we are to believe the claims by Marie Meurdrac, it might even refer to a different Queen altogether. Not Elisabeth but Dona Isabelle who reigned in 1652!
Read the rest of the article on this link on Fragrantica.