Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Washing and Waking Up

People in the past didn't wash very much. In fact, they hardly washed at all. A book from 1547 tells us all about the process of getting up in the morning: "When you be out of your bed stretch forth your legs and arms and your body, cough and spit, and then go to your stool...after you have evacuated your body and trussed your points combe your head...and wash your hands and wrists, your face and eyes and your teeth with cold water". Note that there is no mention of washing the body, even the point of evacuation.

Deodorants seem to have been used though, as if that would solve the problem of a smelling body! The roote of fleur de lys, "taketh away the strong savour coming from the armholes".

Queen Elizabeth took around portable lavatories with her, called 'close stools', when she went for visits to the countryside. These would be conveniently placed in a carriage specially provided for her. In 1565 she ordered "four close stools covered with black velvet embroidered upon and garnished with ribbon and gilt nails, the seats and lathes covered with scarlet fringed with silk and gold and four pans of pewter with cases of leather lined with canvas to put them in".

It seems that the Elizabethans were more concerned about cleansing the interior than the exterior.

7 comments:

ResoluteReader said...

"trussed your points"

What does that mean?

Alterior said...

http://216.239.59.104/search?q=cache:9GYLvQKn35oJ:podiatry.curtin.edu.au/tight.html+trussing+your+points,+elizabethan&hl=en&start=1

"The upper border or welt of the long hose worn by men were pierced with eyelet holes through which strings were threaded and attached to the tunic or doublet. These were a type of suspender called points and the process of attaching the stockings to the tunic was known as trussing the points."

Taken from the website above (sorry for the long ULR!). :-)))

Light said...

Was it the Elizabethans who thought that bathing was bad for the joints? Or am I getting confused? Again?

Alterior said...

Pretty much everyone before the 20th Century thought that bathing was bad for you...

The Romans were great bathers but after them few people bathed, for fear of getting a cold etc. By the 19th century this mode of thinking was still in vogue with most people, except for the rich who decided it was time to stop stinking.

:-))))

Light said...

So was there a split between colder and warmer climes? Did the people of, say, North Africa bathe more frequently than those in colder climes?

Alterior said...

I have no knowledge of that, sorry. :-)))

Anonymous said...

hi didnt they learn from or discovered roman "hygiene im also interested in roman midevel views on bathing and chores didnt they after a while have one rag or cloth that they used to wipe with and someone else had to wash it launder it also laundering was such achore/expensive that many passed o it some of them must of used leaves in the woods grasses and such cool site