Allison D. Reid

It is pretty commonly known that medieval times would have been full of unpleasant smells, including but not limited to body odor. There are some historical accounts of people bathing only once or twice a year, yet others that say it was a weekly, or at least regular, practice.

There seems to be no dispute that daily washing of the hands and face was common. Even though medieval physicians hadn’t quite linked specific diseases with poor hygiene, (and didn’t thoroughly begin to question that until after the Black Death ravaged Europe) they were starting to understand that dirt and filth should be washed away.

Still, there were certain barriers to bathing, some practical, others rooted in medieval belief systems. It was a subject fraught with uncertainty in terms of both health and morality, and was only recommended at certain times of the year. In summer, when we would think people…

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