If the average person were transported to the Middle Ages, would they find their fellow humans stinky?

Well, your nose might be so overwhelmed by the stench of garbage, offal, and sewage streaming down your street that you might not notice what people smelled like.

There was so much grossness - heaps of dung, mud, slaughterhouse discards — on the street that it piled up I believe 1–2 feet high until muckrakers came with carts to scoop it up: Anatomy of a 14th Century Asbo

Medieval hygiene is a bit controversial as you can see by the answers in this thread. I suspect hygienic practices varied by medieval period, access to baths, ponds, or water, wealth, etc. But there were bathhouses and people of both sexes appear to have gone.

People bathed in a communal style and could catch glimpses of the opposite sex naked.

The bathhouses were places of leisure and bathing was seen as a social activity. In fact, people often ate in the bath! (See the food across the image below.)

For example, Henry VIII (whom I consider to be medieval) closed the bathhouses in the syphilis epidemic during his reign, which wouldn't have helped matters. But people bathed more before then as I understand it.

People bathed and had met with prostitutes in medieval bathhouses. (Did people in the Middle Ages take baths? -

By the time most people reached their twenties, their breath probably smelled terrible due to the lack of dental hygiene and rotting teeth. One visitor to a medieval court complained about the stench of people’s breath because they ate too much meat. (This implies to me that maybe the peasants with their mainly grain diet might have had much sweeter breath and teeth in better condition.)

In Tudor England, people believed in washing your undergarments (personal linens) instead of your body. The nobility only spot cleaned their outer clothes.

To get rid of fleas, which were rampant, people would hang their clothes in the garderobe — a closet-type room built into castles that would have an open seat so urine and feces would fall into a moat or cesspit below.

People hung their clothes in the garderobe because ammonia from urine would kill the fleas. Presumably your clothes would have stank like heaven knows what from this practice.

This is the inside of a garderobe:

This is the outside of a garderobe:

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Do you find the habits of medieval people disgusting?

#History #Society #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Darlene Davidson
This was in Europe at the time. In other parts of the world e.g. Japan and the Americas, things were cleaner and more sanitary. Asians and indigenous Americans, found Europeans unclean and smelly. It is important to note that all the world is not European in origin. For the record, I am of European origin.
Nov 2, 2018 5:01PM
Luis Perez
The original inhabitants of Mexico, Peru and the Caribbean coast lines, including the islands, used to bathe at least once a day and this healthy procedure was forbidden by the European invaders.
Nov 22, 2018 10:21PM
Leticia Olsen
👍🏼Yes, according to history the medieval people were unhygienic!! I can write everything what I read but I suppose it was a world history!!
Sep 15, 2021 7:19PM
Darlene Davidson, in italy they don’t shave their pits so I would image body odor
Jul 19, 2021 7:27PM
Isagani Isidro Sogocio
yeh, a bit controversial. Interesting!
Jun 23, 2020 10:14PM
bina sarmah
Darlene Davidson, As per Asian bathing was very important in the pass, still very import for them.
Apr 28, 2020 10:42PM
Marian Waesche
Not my cup of tea for sure.
Oct 22, 2019 5:34PM
Yvette Nichols
Nasty As Hell😠
Sep 18, 2019 5:09PM
Gassan Couri
Good info 🤔👍🏻
Sep 2, 2019 9:23PM
Paul Jacob
Would like to know what future ages think about us!
Jun 18, 2019 2:46AM
Nina Davis
I believe the middle easterners bathed fairly often.
May 5, 2019 7:10PM
Sue Gembrini-Spataro
When I went to Hampton Court, outside London, where King Henry 8th lived, there was a toilet like room, just outside his living quarters (out house type) which had a shaft where his urine & feces dropped. The shaft was open on the front......about 3 ft by 3ft on one of the inside walls of the huge kitchen, We were told it was cleaned out every few days. Eck
Apr 25, 2019 11:43PM
I don’t suppose they knew any better.
Apr 13, 2019 7:19PM
CaiWei Chew, Where on the river did they test it? Varanasi or much further upstream?
Apr 1, 2019 12:17AM
Jannie Waller
Chubb Michaud, In days of old, When knights were bold, And ladies weren't particular, they stood them all against the wall, and screwed them perpendicular.
Feb 23, 2019 4:40PM
Jane Gage
Jackie Smith Barker, you're so right there Jackie!!!! Raw sewerage is regularly dumped into the river that runs through our town!!!
Feb 7, 2019 11:59AM
Jane Gage
Chubb Michaud, - that I can quite believe!!!!!
Feb 7, 2019 11:58AM

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