(long) "life in the 1500s"

Bob Fitzke fitzke at VOYAGER.NET
Fri Jun 11 00:05:22 UTC 1999

This was substantially debunked a few weeks ago by Take Our Word for It at:



Jessie Emerson wrote:

> I've received this three times in the past week, so it must be going around.
> Anyone know where it came from?
> Jessie
> ***
> Life in the 1500's:
> Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in  May
> and were still smelling pretty good by June.  However, they were starting to
> smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the b.o. Baths equaled
> 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."
> 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 pets... dogs, cats
> and other small animals, mice, rats, 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."
> 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.  So, they found if they made beds with big posts and
> hung a sheet over the top, it addressed that problem.  Hence those beautiful
> big 4 poster beds with canopies.
> The floor was dirt.  Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence
> the saying "dirt poor."  The wealthy had slate floors which 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 at the entry way, hence a "thresh hold."
> They cooked in the kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the fire.
> Every day they lit the fire and added things to the  pot.  They mostly ate
> vegetables and didn't 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 in there for a
> month. Hence the rhyme: peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge
> in the pot nine days old."
> Sometimes people could obtain pork and would feel really special when that
> happened. When company came over, they would bring out some bacon and hang
> it to show it off.  It was a sign of wealth and that a man "could really
> bring home the bacon."  They would cut off a little to share with guests and
> would all sit around and "chew the fat."
> Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with a high acid content
> caused some of the lead to leach onto the food. This happened most often
> with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes ... for 400 years.
> Most people didn't have pewter plates, but had trenchers -a piece of wood
> with the middle scooped out like a bowl.  Trenchers were never washed and a
> lot of times worms got into the wood.  After eating off wormy trenchers,
> they would get "trench mouth."
> 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 the "upper
> crust."
> Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.  The combination would
> sometimes 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."
> England is old and small, and they started running out of places to bury
> people.  So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house
> and reuse the grave.  In 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 their
> wrist and 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 to listen
> for the bell. Hence on the
>  "graveyard  shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or
> he was a "dead ringer."

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