Chamber Pots Chamber pots were containers for collecting urine overnight. Back in old Edinburgh, you always have to be alert for the shout of 'garde loo,' which is French for 'watch out for the water.' If you're not quick enough, you could find yourself being showered with the contents of chamber pots hurled from tenement windows.
Privies and Garderobe In Tudor houses, toilets were a bowl with a slab of wood and a hole carved at the top. Builders set the toilet into a recess or cupboard-like area called a garderobe. In castles, a slab of wood covers a hole in the floor that took waste products straight into the moat. Poor people didn't have the luxury of toilets, so they simply relieved themselves wherever they could and just buried the waste matter.
Leaves or Moss as Toilet Paper Neither rich nor poor people had toilet paper. Poor people used leaves or moss to wipe their bottoms while the rich used lamb's wool instead. Kings had a royal bum wiper known as the 'Groom of the Stool.'
Cesspits Since the sewage system back then was not yet proper, people had to make do with burying much of their waste material in a cesspit in their cellar or garden. People should have emptied these cesspits regularly, but only a few of them did. The stench was overwhelming especially during summer and winter.
Ceruse Lead Makeup Poisoned People Ceruse was the foundation make-up choice for both men and women as it gave them a smooth, pale look. However, it contained lead that seeped into the body through the skin, leading to poisoning.
Lead-Lined Water Tanks Even though the rich paid for private water companies for their drinking and other water needs, the water that they consumed was not exactly better than those of peasants. The main water supply came from elm trunks and domestic pipes lined with lead. Water also required storage in large lead tanks and often became stagnant.
Nose-Gays When Walking in a Crowd A nose-gay was something to keep the smells at bay, usually held in the hand or on the wrists on a lapel. It could be a small bouquet of flowers or a sachet of dried flowers and herbs. People held it up to their noses while walking in a large crowd.
People Bathed Using the Same Water Public baths were popular during the 13th century. But because of the scarcity of firewood used to heat the bath, bathing became an expensive practice. Whole families and friends had to share a bath, or many of them would remain dirty.
Laundry Was Scoured in Lye Made of Ashes and Urine Ancient Romans believed in the ability of urine to remove stains. Until the medieval times, people used lye made of ashes and urine in order to clean their clothes.
No Changing of Clothes King James VI of Scotland wore the same clothes for months on end, even sleeping on them on occasion. He also kept the same hat on 24 hours a day until it fell apart. He didn't take a bath as he thought it was bad for his health.
Lice Infested Wigs Nits and lice were common back then, so many of the more wealthy folks would shave their natural hair and wear periwigs instead. Unfortunately, even periwigs could be infested with nits, especially during plagues.
Bird Droppings on the Bed Houses in the past didn't have the protective roofing that houses have today, so it wasn't unusual for bugs, pests, and droppings to fall onto the clean bedding. People then invented four-poster beds in order to keep a canopy that would catch all unpleasant stuff falling from the roof and not soil the bedding.
Infection from Rushes One of the biggest sources of infection during the medieval times was the use of rushes or straws to cover up the natural dirt floor of a building. Although people often changed the top rushes, they did not do the same to the bottom layer, hence leading to all manner of possible infection sources.
Mousey Eyebrows People were already fashion-conscious during the medieval times. When their eyebrows did not look fashionable, they often masked them with tiny pieces of skin from a mouse.
A Peculiar Cure to Baldness Men had to combine potassium salts with chicken droppings, and then place the mixture on the affected area. If they wanted to remove unwanted hair from any area of the body, they had to make a paste consisting of eggs, strong vinegar, and cat dung, and then apply it to the area where they want to remove hair.
Even though I am from Kansas, I enjoy venturing into other worlds from
around the globe which is why my writing focuses on diversity. With
fluid accessibility to modern media and traveling opportunities, my
Midwestern world can expand and explore beyond my own backyard. In
addition to studying cultures, I take pleasure in studying history.
Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even,
over our society’s past. Although writing can educate as well as
entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings,
photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of
humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us
striving for an improved future.