MountainWings A MountainWings Moment
#1150 Wings Over The Mountains of Life
Facts of Life
Facts Of Life In The 1500s
Next time you are washing your hands and complain because the
water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how
things used to be.......in the "good old days"!
Here are some facts about life in the 1500s:
1) Most people got married in June because they took their
yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June.
However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a
bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of
the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all
the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children-
last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you
could actually lose someone in it - hence the saying,
"Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
2) Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw, piled high, with no
wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm,
so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice rats, and
bugs), lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and
sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof-hence the
saying "It's raining cats and dogs."
3) There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.
This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other
droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a
bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some
protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
4) The floor was dirt.
Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying
"dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get
slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh on the
floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they
kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would
all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the
entry way-hence, a "thresh hold."
5) They cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung
over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to
the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat.
They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot
to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.
Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite
a while-hence the rhyme, "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold,
peas porridge in the pot nine days old."
6) Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite
special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their
bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "could
bring home the bacon."
They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all
sit around and "chew the fat."
7) Those with money had plates made of pewter.
Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach
onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened
most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so,
tomatoes were considered poisonous.
8) Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a
piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often
trenchers were made from stale paysan bread which was so old and
hard that they could use them for quite some time. Trenchers
were never washed and a lot of times worms and mold got into the
wood and old bread. After eating off wormy moldy
trenchers, one would get "trench mouth."
9) Bread was divided according to status.
Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the
middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust."
10) Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.
The combination would some times knock them out for a couple of
days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead
and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen
table for a couple of days and the family would gather around
and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up-hence
the custom of holding a "wake."
11) England is old and small and they started out running out of
places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would
take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When
reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to
have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been
burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string
on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up
through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to
sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to
listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell"
or was considered a "dead ringer."
Still in a big hurry to get back to "The Good Old Days?"
When you hear people talk about how terrible things are these
days, email them a copy of this and remind them that you
couldn't have even sent them this in the good old days, unless
you sent it by horse.
Note: Many of these are not historically verifiable and may not
be true, but you get the point. Each age has plusses and minuses.
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See you tomorrow.
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