Skip to main content

Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

95: Pierre Pomet, A Complete History of Drugs (London, 1748)

This book by Louis XIV’s chief druggist provides written and visual evidence of the role of enslaved Africans in cane sugar production. After harvest, the cane was milled in ‘The Sugar Mill’, and its juice channelled into ‘The Sugar Works’ for purification by multiple boilings. While still hot, its granular skin – sugar – was skimmed and cast into moulds. After 24 hours of ‘incorporation’, the moulds were taken to warehouses, and pierced to release the syrupy molasses. The remaining grey muscovado sugar was further refined into white sugar for the European market. Even in early modern print, the link between slavery and sugar is made explicit.

Private collection

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn RSS feed for events RSS feed for stories
University of Cambridge Museums logo Designation scheme Logo Accredited Museum status logo Cambridge City Council Logo Arts Council England Logo Research England logo