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Tudor Hygiene

By Madeline | December 18, 2007

So, my husband recommended I start a blog about history to support my fanatical history addiction that includes reading historical novels on a regular basis, attending renaissance fairs and even writing my own historical romance novel.

I figured I’d kick this blog off with my favorite topic of all time: the Tudor age. I recently read an interesting fact about the tudor age that involved hygiene. If you are a history fan and have happened to stumble upon this website, you will know that hygiene, contrary to popular modern belief, was actually quite important to most people, rich as well as poor, during that ‘dirty’ time in history.

Henry VIII actually had the ability to run hot and cold water in his private quarters in Hampton Court. No one else really had this luxury, although many wealthy nobles tried hard to take baths on a regular basis (meaning daily or weekly) or, if they were unable to take a fully immersed bath, they would often sponge themselves off. Additionally, many of the wealthy were huge fans of linens – these were undergarments that could be easily washed and changed and essentially absorbed the sweat and body odors leaving their outer garments ‘clean’ as most were not able to be washed…ever.

As you can imagine, the poor were presented with less opportunities to bathe as frequently as the rich. One quick remedy for this was actually to bathe with vinegar which helped to neutralize body odors as well as clean off the superficial dirt if there were no springs/ponds available. I personally hate the smell of vinegar and cringe at the thought of intentionally splashing it over my bare skin. However, the girl in me wonders if they had shinier hair as a result and fewer yeast infections? Hrm…

Another interest fun fact I discovered pertained to oral hygiene. Many oral aids for the wealthy were almost always flavored with honey that ultimately resulted in undoing all the good they were attempting. Though they did not understand that honey was bad for their teeth, they did know that sugar would often rot their teeth. It was not uncommon for some women to blacken out their good teeth so as to appear wealthy enough to afford sugar.

So, that is my bit on the Tudor age for today. Stay tuned for more interesting bits of history.

Topics: Tudor Era |

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