There was a really interesting piece on J-STOR recently that washes away the widespread idea that the Middle Ages in Europe was just unbelievably filthy.

There’s actually a lot of writing and art that shows that people in this era understood that bathing was good for them and enjoyed it!

So why is it that we think the Middle Ages was so dirty?

Relatively speaking, it was dirty compared to this time.

Medieval people didn’t know that germs caused disease, and they didn’t have sewer systems or water treatment like we have today.

So whatever level of mess they made, they had a harder time cleaning it all up than we do now.

And while royalty and other upper-class people had time and money (and, often, staff) to clean themselves up, peasants and others who were lower on the social ladder might not.

All that said, people in medieval times didn’t walk around reveling in filth. .

Soap was spreading all over Europe more than a millennium ago; it even came with scents like sage or thyme.

Those who were well-off could take a bath in a wooden tub with water heated by fire.

People of more limited means could head to the bathhouse, which they most likely did at least once a week.

According to J-STOR, part of this myth comes from misinterpretations of some religious writings, which had seemed to say that knights and saints of the time didn’t wash their hair or clean themselves.

But this probably didn’t mean they literally didn’t take baths, but that they were so focused on their work that they didn’t spend time worrying about their appearances.

Meanwhile, in the Renaissance, which followed the Middle Ages, there really was a decline in hygiene.

In this time, diseases like syphilis started spreading in bathhouses, but of course, that wasn’t from the clientele taking baths, now was it?

Computer Science Education Week is here.

There are lots of opportunities to learn some coding if you’d like, but if you do, pick a language that’s easier than the one called Malbolge.

It’s named for a circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, and it was designed to be hard to use – so hard that, for a long time, the most complicated program written in the language was the one that put the words “Hello, world!” on a screen.

Scrub-a-Dub in a Medieval Tub (JSTOR)

The Middle Ages Were Cleaner Than We Think (Wall Street Journal)

Introduction to Malbolge (LScheffer)

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Image via Wikicommons