Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Correcting the history books

Perhaps the period from 500 to 1500 AD was more civilized — in at least a few respects — than the Renaissance that followed. Jill Harness corrects "Five Common Misconceptions About the Middle Ages":
  • Medieval Doctors Weren’t Completely In the Dark
  • Bad Hygiene Wasn’t Actually Common
  • Spices Weren’t Used to Hide the Flavor of Rotten Meat
  • Most “Medieval” Torture Devices Were Anything But
  • Chastity Belts Weren’t Even Invented Yet
From "Bad Hygiene Wasn’t Actually Common":
For years, stories have been circulating that the average person of the Dark Ages would only bathe once a year and that the reason brides carried bouquets was to help them ward off the gross smell of the guests at their wedding, but really, people of the time had pretty decent hygiene. ....

.... In fact, bathing didn’t fall out of fashion until the Renaissance, when it was believed that water could carry disease. So there’s a good chance that a peasant from the thirteenth century actually smelled a lot better than Leonardo da Vinci.

Their clothes didn’t smell horribly either, laundry soap was introduced from the Orient in the early Middle Ages and while clothing did go unwashed in the freezing winters, as soon as spring hit, laundresses went out in droves washing clothes on the local river banks. .... [more]
Five Common Misconceptions About the Middle Ages

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