Marcus Woodhouse wrote:It's just B***cks to think that its "authentic medieval" by being dirty.
Some people were dirty guttersnipes with rust stains around their cods, other's would have been as clean as a bent coppers whistle, just as is the case now.
i'm sure that most people would have done their best to keep themselves and their clothes clean because most people do not like either being or next to a sweaty oik.
This is myth pandered as fact, total choaid.
I've been helping my niece with her GCSE history and they are pushing the "facts" that people in the medieval/Renaissance period lived in houses with floors caked in mud, dirt, urine and rotten food (among other things). It is implied that things are simply added to the midden which is the house floor!
People never washed or cleaned themselves or their environment/clothes and had absolutely no concept of hygiene at all. Water for cleaning was deemed to be suspicious!
Another friend of mine did a Costume "course" at UNIVERSITY which stated quite blatantly that embroidered smocks were fashionable to hide the dirt because they were never washed. That ruffs were fashionable because it hid the dirty neck! Teeth were blacked out to be fashionable cos then it proved you were rich enough to have sugar.
Its a wonder the human race hadn't died out if this was the case!
In a small attempt to change this viewpoint, I gave my niece the handouts to my lecture on "Exploding the Myth of the Unwashed Masses." I let her handle soap balls (thanks to Sally Pointer) showed her recipes for soap, haircare, tooth care and perfumes and contemporary sources detailing various types of people exhorting children (and adults) to ensure they are CLEAN!!!
I also showed her the various images that show people bathing, show baths, soaps, cloths and other bathing paraphernalia. I explained that places like Lavenham have a network of medieval sewers and drains as does Hampton Court Palace which then proves that not just the very very very wealthy could afford to have proper drainage.
Sadly, if she used any of this information in her exam, it would probably be marked wrong.
As you say, Marcus, some people would have been squeaky clean and others would have been happy to live in a dirty midden. Just like now.