As further evidence, in 1333, that the tenant of a London tenement made a complaint about the removal of a party wall and roof that had been enclosing a common cesspit. To find out more about what life was like for ordinary people in the Middle Ages, pick up a copy of our Medieval Life special, which pulls together the very best BBC History Magazine articles. With these removed, “the extremities of those sitting upon the seats [could] be seen, a thing which is abominable and altogether intolerable.”, of today, where clothes are worn for a season before being discarded and sent to whatever landfill purgatory, go at the end of life, medieval threads were costly, whether in time or money, and expected to be worn for a long time. But it was just not possible.”, So were medieval people, on the whole, smellier than we are today? Inseparable from the issue of waste disposal was the concept of privacy. Usually there was a local lord who lived in a large house called a manor or a castle. And, “it was probably less noticeable because you’d be, When they did bathe, it was quite the production. “E. (They claimed to have told him that “it would be more decent to go to the common privies of the City to relieve himself,” after which Scott threatened them, so the assault was merely in self-defense. So if your neighbor’s cesspit was making your kitchen smell like the local summer fair’s porta-potty, even though you weren’t thinking about bacteria, you understood that this needed to be fixed. Sabine [Ernest L. Sabine, author of Latrines and Cesspools of Mediaeval London] believes that after digging up the dirt, taking away the earth, finding the lime, sand and other materials, the total cost for constructing the cesspit would have amounted to about four pounds,” wrote Taylor. By Tim Lambert. Then again, you can never underestimate the drive to reproduce—and as anyone who’s ever hooked up after a funeral can attest, the threat of death sometimes heightens that drive. These cookies are used to collect information about traffic to this website and how users interface with this website. Sure. Yet at the same time it did have periods of peace and stability, and creativity in the arts. (Though, Cybulskie points out, medieval folks had better teeth than those in the Tudor period, “because they hadn’t discovered the New World and so they didn’t really use sugar a lot.”) These recipes called for local ingredients like herbs and animal products; imported substances like frankincense, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and galangal; and mineral substances including orpiment (a compound of arsenic), quicklime, quicksilver, sulfur, natron, and white lead. “You’d have a place to go.”, “You were never that far from a place where you could,” she says. Though, by law, they were to be constructed a certain distance from the property of others, they could still muck everything up. More specifically, poorly managed poop. “One of the reasons that they layered up was that they could wash the clothes that were underneath, and they wouldn’t necessarily have to wash the fancy clothes that were on top,” says Cybulskie. Anaemia was common as was rheumatism, arthritis, tuberculosis and dysentery ( known as the flux ). “So they had even more reason for using lavender and rose petals before wearing their Sunday best to church.” (Garments made of fine fabric were kept nice by brushing, shaking and airing out, and storage among lavender, herbs, and dried rose petals. And it’s sticky, so it keeps stuff together,” says Cybulskie. Let it be mixed in with rainwater and let it cook until the consumption of the water, which can be recognized when we will see it almost completely dried out. In modern times we compare the conditions of class and class, the luxurious ease of the wealthy with the destitution of the slums. The worms would suck off a quantity of blood before falling off.”, Interestingly, the use of leeches has stuck around in modern medicine, though not for balancing humors. People were in touch with nature and stayed close to their loved ones. Where people had no access to baths, they used tubs in their homes, if they could afford them. “Without anyone to flush the old tunnels and keep them clean, old London disregarded and soon forgot about its precious subterranean Roman legacy,” wrote cultural historian Craig Taylor in. There may have been a few people living inside the walls by fishing or farming but London ceased to be a town. Though it wasn’t Rome, where, according to Taylor, “going to the toilet was not an aspect of life considered embarrassing or private,” medieval Londoners weren’t completely lacking in shame about their bathroom time, as evidenced by the dividing walls found in the privies of castle turrets and towers, monasteries, and cities. Sometimes their ideas worked out well for them, and sometimes they really did not. Many people, therefore, chose to travel in groups. “The great numbers of different references to baths throughout the medieval sources show they obviously held a special place in medieval life socially, medically, and spiritually,” wrote historian Virginia Smith in Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity. Depending on the frequency with which this kind of toxic makeup was used. Apply the mixture to the affected parts. Though it would smell, the contents would be poured into a gutter running down the street where it would later be washed away by rainwater. Each peasant had some strips of land in each field. Bathing as both spa treatment and party, complete with your friends, your honey, some pastries, and maybe even a bed? Shoes were ridiculous Long-toed shoes were a sign of high fashion. Honey is antibacterial; . “You didn’t necessarily need to know about the actual bacteria to know that if there’s dirt in it, it will fester and you will die. But seriously, why haven’t American offices gotten this one simple thing right?). As well as running the very real risk of freezing to death overnight, travellers in the Middle Ages might be robbed or attacked on the road. That’s because tub time was kind of a big deal. But even then, you weren’t entirely safe – there are countless tales of people being attacked or even killed by their travelling companions. Each year 2 were sown with crops while one was left fallow (unused) to allow it to recover. “The great numbers of different references to baths throughout the medieval sources show they obviously held a special place in medieval life socially, medically, and spiritually,” wrote historian Virginia Smith in, Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity, featuring luxe scenes like “the town bathhouse, with a long row of bathing couples eating a meal naked in bathtubs, often several to a tub, with other couples seen smiling in beds in the mid-distance.”, These Are The Shower Habits That You Need To Ditch, 30 Outfit Mistakes That Will Make You Look Messy, Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency That Most People Ignore, I’ll Take The Doctor Without 2,300 Patients, Thanks, Delivery Room Workers Explain What Happens When A Baby Clearly Isn’t The Father’s, mx_bucket_*, mx_cookie, mx_uuid, mx_xp_d, xp_xp_m_android, xgeo, xroll. Because of the smell. “They didn’t like being smelly because they were afraid that was going to make them sick,” says Cybulskie. ), a small bunch of flowers that could be held up to the nose when passing through a particularly smelly area of town—or to offer some olfactory or emotional comfort in the face of death. The explanation was simple: poop. We all know the Middle Ages weren't an enviable time to be alive, but do you really know what people's daily lives were like? Then let it be washed with pure water, and this [whitened look] will last for eight days. If you’ve ever had to wait in line for a women’s bathroom at a bar, Scott’s irritation makes a lot of sense. “Given the chance, would they have had a bath every day? Not only was it incredibly gloomy, it was also quite a miserable time to be alive.