Today’s show is about medieval hygiene, so we’re spending most of our time today on the “weird” part of our name.
If you were a royal back several hundred years ago, it might be a time when you’d pack up and leave the castle for, well, one of your other castles.
The paintings of these medieval courts make them look pretty good, right? Wealth, power, multiple palaces… but looks can be deceiving.
Writer Hadley Meares just released a piece for History.com explaining that royals went from castle to castle not just because that’s what you do when you’re wealthy… but because the castle staff needed to clean out all the filth!
In these days, cleanliness was hard to come by, especially the further up the social ladder. According to Meares, castles were dirtier than smaller homes, in part because there were so many more people on hand.
Kings and queens had entourages, in some cases big ones, and that meant big meals, more garbage and more, shall we say, waste.
Some used the chamber pots or privies, but some just went to the bathroom wherever they felt like it.
King Henry VIII had staff paint red Xs painted in the spots where he didn’t want people relieving themselves.
But instead of deterring anybody, the Xs ended up as targets.
When the smell got to be too much, the royal family and everyone who went with them would head to a different palace, and staff would move in and try, not totally successfully, to scour the castle.
Not many of us can say they live like a king today, and at least when it comes to the smell, that’s not a bad thing.
To balance out today’s show, here’s news from Vox that companies are launching just-add-water cleaning products. The idea is that cleaning products are 90 percent water, and packaging and shipping all that water is expensive and uses a lot of energy.
When the products arrive at your house, you add water and you’re good to go, though if cleaning makes you procrastinate, these products probably aren’t going to fix that.
Photo by Isabel via Flickr/Creative Commons