The 1500s

How things used to be


The 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.... Here are some facts about the 1500s:

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.”

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.”

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.

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 sliding outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entryway, hence, “a threshold.”

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 awhile - hence the rhyme, “peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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 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.”




QuotaBills
History is written by the victors. - Niccolo Machiavelli

Well-behaved women seldom make history. - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

That great dust-heap called 'history'. - Augustine Birrell

If you think you have it tough, read history books. - Bill Maher

It's a very good historical book about history. - Dan Quayle

The main thing is to make history, not to write it. - Otto von Bismarck

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. - Winston Churchill

History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme a lot. - Mark Twain

History would be a wonderful thing - if it were only true. - Leo Tolstoy

History is an endless repetition of the wrong way of living. - Lawrence Durrell

I'm just the smallest dot in a big map of human history. - Ben Casnocha

U.S. history - that's part of your whole American heresy. - Archie Bunker

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. - James A. Baldwin

Study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft. - Winston Churchill

A people without history is like the wind on the buffalo grass. - Lakota Sioux Proverb

History never looks like history when you are living through it. - John W. Gardner

History is the sum total of things that could have been avoided. - Konrad Adenauer

It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature. - Henry James

Nowadays the clinical history too often weighs more than the man. - Martin H. Fischer

If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography. - William Lyon Mackenzie King

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. - Thomas Jefferson

I love hockey because of the respect for history and for the game itself. - George Vecsey

History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. - Kurt Vonnegut

I can't understand why I flunked American history. When I was a kid there was so little of it. - George Burns

History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind. - Edward Gibbon

There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good. - Stephen Colbert

If the lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us. - Unknown

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history. - Aldous Huxley

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. - Mahatma Gandhi

Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. - Dwight D Eisenhower

Mr. Gorbachev has apparently stumbled onto one of the best-kept secrets in recent Soviet history: Communism doesn't work. - Frank Zappa

The Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower. They're monumental. They're straight out of Page 52 in your school history book. - Billy Crystal

Street League Skateboarding is the premier professional skateboarding league in the world, with the biggest prize money in history. - Rob Dyrdek

If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of twenty-two, it would have changed the history of music... and of aviation. - Tom Stoppard

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. - Mitch Ratcliffe

Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the country. The world came apart under her reign as Secretary of State. - Donald Trump

He's ... probably the greatest corporate leader in the history of a major company... Somebody like that would be absolutely incredible. - Donald Trump

History has repeatedly been changed by people who had the desire and the ability to transfer their convictions and emotions to their listeners. - Dale Carnegie

There is only one history of any importance, and it is the history of what you once believed in, and the history of what you came to believe in. - Kay Boyle

The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different. - Aldous Huxley


see also   History  Section
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1920 Strongwoman
1934 Modern Home
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19-Jan-2018