Persian History in a Modern-Day Spirit




Now we have a society that’s stable, where people live their lives happily and with a decent amount of freedom. This, of course, cannot be allowed to continue. The crusades happen and European kings and lords, having barely exited the dark days of the warlords, are starting to consolidate their power. The one thing that gave these men power, and then allows them to retain it, is force of arms. The Vikings have been dealt with and apart from kings coveting other’s territories, there’s nobodt to fight. Knights and full-time soldiers are essential to preserving the kingdom, but these men are essentially a law unto themselves the rest of the time. They act like a kind of mafia where extortion and violence against those who resist is commonplace.

The Catholic church sees the disturbance to the wealth and health of the societies under their sway and deem it unacceptable. They understand that these men are needed to facilitate the safety of kingdoms as a whole, but it’s preferable they do it elsewhere. The solution? The Holy Land has long been under the control of those who are not loyal to Rome, so let’s retake it, and bring it back into the folds of Christendom.

It’s not just soldiers and knights that make the trek across land and sea to the desert lands. Their lords, with retainers, landless peasants all go too. But wherever lords or kings go, priests and monks go with them, usually to point them in the right direction. These men of the cloth are largely the most educated, or often the only ones able to read, write, translate, and most importantly heal. The realm of medicine, while primitive compared to that of our time, is blinkered but willing to learn. Many of the crusaders have sailed from Salerno, south of Rome, in what will eventually become Italy. At Salerno is the Schola Medica Salernitana, which was founded around the same time Al_Kindi was putting good wine to waste. This school is at the forefront of medical research and one thing it has long sought is a method for the delivery of medicine.

Monks have been prescribing various herbal concoctions for many years. They’re typically added to broth, wine, or beer. These, for the most part, taste awful and nobody wants to take their medicine. Many monks have forsaken the medicinal plant method of healing and stick to the other school of thought: balancing the humors. This is a method where a lot of herbal ingredients can be added to a small delivery package is hugely important. The crusades aren’t just about sticking swords in unbelievers, although the crucial nature of that cannot be overstated.

Monks, with their wide range of languages spoken, are keen to absorb any shred of knowledge which might further their works. Another important behavior of monastic life is the scribing and re-scribing of documents to preserve the knowledge of generations past. Inevitably, alcohol spirit’s use as both a drink for pleasure and medicine, is absorbed. That knowledge is transported to Salerno and soon it is sent around Christendom.

At first just wine is distilled, but soon other low alcohols are too. Mual al nabidh (The Water of Life) is translated into Latin as Aqua Vitae. From there it’s translated in French as Eau de Vie, a name given to unaged brandy in the region of Cognac. It eventually goes to Scotland and Ireland where, in Gaelic, it is called Uisge Beatha (pr: ooskay va) also known as whisky.

Again, we see a common thread and a lineage of all things. Spirits are included in that. Tequila is still some hundreds of years away, but the legacy of Hayyan and Al-Kindi is present in every bottle of Señor Rio tequila. Perhaps this is why the aroma of Señor Rio is so enjoyable? Every bottle takes you back to the time when distillations were intended for perfume. It seems only fitting that a spirit who’s very being was only possible due to the world of Persia, should be sequestered in a bottle reminiscent of a perfume bottle that might possibly release a genie if rubbed. Even better than that is this wonderfully decorative bottle that holds a five year old Señor Rio Extra Añejo. What makes it more special is that it’s aged in casks that were home to Eau de Vie (the water of life). Abu Nuwas would be proud.


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