With the recent discovery of the medieval sin-washing well, I wanted to learn out more about it. I found the post so interesting that I searched sin-washing in medieval times and couldn't find anything on it besides the new discovery of this well. But what I did find was a lot of articles on bathing from Roman times to medieval times. I thought I'd share with you some of what I learned.
Ancient Rome was famous for all of their public bath houses. Some of those building are still standing today allowing us a glimpse into that part of history. These bath houses had hot rooms, cold rooms and even just plain old warm rooms to lounge around in. Some of the wealthier people had their own private bath houses.
Around the 12th century there was Jewish ritual bathing. The water had to come from a live well (water that came from a river, rain water or a spring but the water could not be drawn. This made the water fit for one to dip one's body into.
Jerome and Clement, early Christian fathers, (during the 4th and 5th centuries) did not take a liking to bathing in public bath houses and discouraged it.
During the medieval and renaissance periods the Roman type bath houses were reintroduced and encouraged by Islamic countries. It's possible that the bath houses returned to western Europe from the middle east due to the crusades.
I'm sure you have all heard the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. And you've probably read those emails where they tell you how all of our sayings came about. This one many time reads that the people only bathed once a year and they bathed oldest to youngest, so by the time the baby was washed the water was black and they couldn't even see the child in the water. Thus don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
However, medieval people did bath depending on the time period and their place in society. The poor or the laborers bathed less due to the fact they couldn't afford to have tubs or purchase fuel to warm water so their bathing was done more in the summer months when they could take a dip in a pond or a river.
In winter months when the weather was not as conducive for bathing, personal hygiene wasn't at its best, but washing of the hands before and after meals was common practice and good hygiene no matter what your social status.
For the middle class, having the means to warm water for a tub was a status symbol, making it even more popular for that class to take baths.
Though the wealthy who could afford the fuel to heat the water, they too, usually had the tubs brought to the rooms to bathe rather than the elaborate bath houses they had in the middle east homes.
So did bathing decline and if it did when did it? It does seem that during the Renaissance period that people didn't bath as frequently. They worried that it was unhealthy and that perhaps it helped spread the plague. People stopped everything that might cause the spread of the disease.
I have to say when I'm writing in medieval times and in 19th century times I do like to have my heroes and heroines clean and with good hygiene regardless of whether it really was that way in history.
What do you think? Do you want history to always ring true or are there times that changing something is okay?
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment to be entered to win your choice of Sword of Forgiveness or Shattered Memories.
SWORD OF FORGIVENESS NOW AVAILABLE IN AUDIO HERE!
After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosen Craig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution.
Royce returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.
Debbie Lynne has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children’s director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, She and her husband enjoy camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. Visit Debbie Lynne at www.debbielynnecostello.com