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.
|By RyanFreisling - I (RyanFreisling) took this photograph of the Domus Aurea myself, in 2005., Public Domain,|
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
Definitely change certain things....keep those characters clean. LOLReplyDelete
Merry Christmas Deb!
LOL! I love it, Chappy and soooo agree!Delete
I understand personal quirks filtering into your writing. I imagine that there were certain people who valued cleanliness more than others, especially as they began to recognize the importance of hygiene and good health!!!ReplyDelete
Hey Connie. I am sure there were. Just like today some people believe certain things are not good for you and avoid them while others don't agree and indulge.Delete
I love history so I value historical accuracy but there are times when I prefer that an author use "author privilege". Cleanliness is always appreciated 😀 I also know that abuse of women was acceptable in certain eras and cultures but I prefer not to read about these acts.ReplyDelete
I'm with you. I have a hard time just hearing about it, I can't read things that are disturbing to me. It ties my stomach up in knots.Delete
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Why assume that it was acceptable because it was sometimes tolerated? Its true that certain Medical church writers implied that 'reasonable chastisement' of a wife was acceptable, but that does not mean all forms of violence or abuse against women were.Delete
There were cases in the Medieval courts women taking abusive spouses to court, or forms of local I guess you would call it vigilante justice, in which members of the community might take it in hand to punish a husband who treated his wife cruelly.
The church even allowed a form of seperation on the grounds of creulty- and rape was a criminal offense in Medieval England just as it is today- although 'Ravishment' meant something different then.
Also, contrary to what one reads in a lot of stories, forced marriage was totally forbidden, and it was not easy to get away with, because marriages made without the free consent of both parties could be annulled. There were a couple of cases in the 14th century of people who had been married for 20 years or more and had several children getting annulments on that basis.
We have to understand the context of these things, I believe and not make wholesale assumptions.
For instance, when I saw a child, a gentle spank was regarded as acceptable by many parents, and by society at large, but that's now considered a form of child abuse, and is illegal in several countries.
Hello English Lady, I was a little confused by your response. I think you meant to leave this on another blog post as the one I wrote about was on bathing in medieval times. In regards to what you wrote I will say I have also read that some of the abuse of women was not tolerated. However, I have also read cases of abuse. I imagine it is just as it is today. It is not legal to beat your wife however it is done. As to forced marriages, if you are speaking of my book Sword of Forgiveness you will find of you read the book this is NOT a forced marriage. She is encouraged to marry by a man she has regarded as a father most of her life. She chooses to marry for the good of her people but it is still an unwelcome marriage, but because she loves the people around her she does what she feels is best for them. Thanks for coming by.Delete
It was in response to the comment by 'Connie' about abuse having been acceptable in the past. My main question was, why should we assume that was so? I did make some serious typos, which do make it confusing. I tend to type fast and hit keys in the wrong order, sorry.Delete
No. I was did not have your story in mind per se, just a general remark about many novels across the board, and even on the TV.Delete
Thanks for sharing, English Lady. Always good to get different perspectives.Delete
I much prefer an occasional mention of a bath, or at the very least, a change of clothes. Thanks for a great post.ReplyDelete
Thank you for coming by, Elizabeth. Nothing like a warm bath waiting after a long day in the saddle or a day on the practice field.Delete
I like history to remain true. I do like cleanliness though:)ReplyDelete
;o) Nothing like a clean hero sweeping his sweet smelling heroine into his arms!Delete
You can't re-write history, but "cleaning" it up a bit for today's standards and for those who have those standards is okay with me.ReplyDelete
Good way to put it, Debbie! I couldn't say it better. Thanks for coming by.Delete
Very interesting post! Usually I like things kept as realistic as possible, but certain things I prefer being changed, like hygiene details. It's not very romantic imagining a couple who hasn't bathed for a few weeks being physically close and not being repulsed by each other (though I guess that's what toilet water was for).ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mallori. There are just some things that we need to sweeten up a bit. And I do throw in the knight or villein who needs a bath here and there to let the reader know that did happen. :o)Delete
Changes in society is definitely a yes. Bathing in the medieval times was very informative and glad their hygiene habits has changed. The tidbit information about "Don't throw the baby out with the water" created a smile as I had not heard how this saying came into being. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas and God bless, Debbie.ReplyDelete
Thank you for coming by, Marilyn. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!Delete
There are many Medieval manucripts that show people bathing, and Henry III is said to have had a bath with running taps. There were bath Houses, known as 'Stews' in Medieval times- but these were often attached to Brothels. The Southwark Stews were notorious for instance. Probably one reason why they were regarded with suspicion.ReplyDelete
Also, one does not necessarily need a bathtub to stay clean- at least not a full sized one. In my grandparents day, a small metal tub, about the size of a laundry tub was used for washing, which was done standing up.
Yes, I agree. There is a lot of historical information that tells us medieval people did bath more than once a year as I've heard so often, and that many actually did have baths in their own homes if they were middle class. The bath houses also became a place for prostitutes to hang out. I didn't read about brothels attached to them but I have read that it did draw the prostitutes. I know some bath houses were not gender specific so that would encourage such things I'm sure. Much depends on the time period as medieval in general covers many years and also on the country. Thanks for coming by and sharing!Delete
Very interesting post Debbie. Never knew how the saying, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" came about, now I know. I for one would not want to bathe in a public bath house, I like my privacy when I bathe.ReplyDelete
I learn much from reading historical Christian fiction...but, yes, definitely change a few things if need be...I like the characters clean. ;-)
Have a blessed and Merry Christmas!
Hello Mrs. Tina! I have heard that saying so many times and how it came about but after reading and researching bathing I really have to question if that is just folklore. But overall everything I have read tells me that people as far back as bible times did like to stay clean to some point. There are always the exception and as I wrote above the plague seemed to cause some questions about bathing and the spread of the disease, but I after researching I can not consign myself to all medieval people being dirty. It just really doesn't fit history. :o)Delete
Congratulations Mallori! You won. I'll be contacting you shortly.ReplyDelete