Source: The Basques and their country (Simpkin Marshall Hamilton Kent & co, London, 1926)
Chapter II. I. Character and dress. 2. Pastimes. Page 49
Smoking was always a strong habit, at which De Lancre was scandalized. He says: “They employ snuff or nicotine (tobacco), the smoke of which plant they take to unload the brain and hold out against hunger; this smoke makes their breath and their body so stinking that one cannot abide it. They use it two or three timed a day, the women also; and thereby smell like savages…
A tax on tobacco in 1750 caused grave riots in the coastal towns, among the women especially. A usual method in the Middle Ages referred to by Rabelais, of quelling risings, was to remove the church bells, the signals of assembly, witness the celebrated bell of Ghent called Roland, whose removal quite bewildered that turbulent population. This device was widely used against the Basques.
Author: P.S. Ormond