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Jean Nicot (/nɪˈk/; French: [niko]; 1530 – May 4, 1604[2]) was a French diplomat and scholar.

Jean Nicot
Jean Nicot

Nîmes, France
DiedMay 4, 1604[1]
Paris, France

Nicot is famous for being the first to bring tobacco to France, including snuff tobacco.

Early lifeEdit

Jean Nicot was born in 1530 in Nîmes, in the south of France. His father was a notary. He was educated in Toulouse and Paris.[3]


Nicot served as the French ambassador in Lisbon, Portugal from 1559 to 1561, under King Henry II. As a 29-year-old in 1559, he was sent from France to Portugal to negotiate the marriage of six-year-old princess Margaret of Valois to five-year-old King Sebastian of Portugal.[3]

Introduction of tobaccoEdit

When Nicot returned, he brought tobacco plants. He introduced snuff tobacco to the French royal court.[4] 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.

Although André Thevet argued that he had introduced tobacco to France,[5] the plant was called Nicotina. But nicotine later came to refer specifically to the particular chemical in the plant. The tobacco plant, Nicotiana, also a flowering garden plant, was named after him by Carl Linnaeus,[3] as was nicotine.[6] Nicot described its believed medicinal properties (1559) and sent it as a medicine to the French court.[3]

French dictionaryEdit

For his service to the French royal court, Nicot was given the name 'de Villemain' and land near Brie-Comte-Robert. There, he compiled one of the first French dictionaries, Thresor de la langue françoyse tant ancienne que moderne (published in 1606).[3] His dictionary, according to Ibram X. Kendi, was the first that included an entry for the concept of race.[7]


He died on May 4, 1604[8] in Paris, France.[3]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kara Rogers, Jean Nicot: French diplomat and scholar, Encyclopedia Britannia
  4. ^ Steve Luck, The Complete Guide to Cigars: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Finest Cigars, Bath, UK: Parragon, p. 13
  5. ^ Ley, Willy (December 1965). "The Healthfull Aromatick Herbe". For Your Information. Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 88–98.
  6. ^ Taylor, R. B.: White Coat Tales - Medicine's Heroes, Heritage and Misadventures, Springer, 2007, page 96
  7. ^ Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, 2016, 3rd chapter
  8. ^

External linksEdit