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Spouting Off About What He Didn't Know
John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 13,708
01-18-2018, 08:54 PM
Hello Everyone,

It seems there are always a number of people that are more than willing to share their level of ignorance.

As an example my wife Denise was telling me about a program she was listening to in which an author that espouses to be a know it all was talking about the lack of hygiene during the Middle Ages. This guy is a perfect example of an idiot that does not know what he is talking about but is not afraid to share it.

The fact of the matter is that people simply were not lounging around in filth. During the Middle Ages prior to religious wars people were far more hygienic than you might otherwise think. There are a number of serious historical works that provide meticulous evidence of the very high standards of hygiene in the Middle Ages, including a culture that valued bathing, grooming, brushing one’s teeth (twice daily) and more. Even some of the Monastic communities had very elaborate sewage systems. And there were Castles (even in the north of England!) had hot and cold running water. There were luxurious bath houses (particularly in the Crusader states). Spectacular aqueducts brought fresh water from far away and underground canals removed waste. And all that was for the general public. Nobles had even higher standards of cleanliness and hygiene than the average citizen.

It is true that wigs and perfume were used to prevent lice and hide body odors – but NOT in the Middle Ages. These were practices common in the 18th century, not the Middle Ages. (Think Baroque.) Bathing was much more prevalent during the Middle Ages than in the so-called “Renaissance” and “Enlightenment” for two reasons.

1) The Reformation was accompanied by a much stricter morality than had been prevalent in the High Middle Ages. The Protestants preached sobriety and virtue – and rejected many aspects of Medieval life, which they considered licentious. This included condemning public bath houses because these were frequented by both men and women and were often fronts for brothels.

2) Paradoxically, medical knowledge of the period also conflated bathing with disease, because in the increasingly dense urban centers water was becoming increasingly contaminated. So doctors started advising their patients to bathe less, avoid water, etc.

Here are two good links worth reading:

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