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 a vast early warning system. - Norman Cousins

There is properly no history; only biography. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it. - Oscar Wilde

History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. - Will Rogers

Leftovers: 1. Mull-again stew; 2. Repast history. - Daffynitions joe-ks.com

We are not makers of history. We are made by history. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no record in history of a happy philosopher. - H L Mencken

History books that contain no lies are extremely dull. - Anatole France

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

Anybody can make history, only a great man can write it. - Oscar Wilde

A sweating ovary or a sick prostate explains most history. - Martin H. Fischer

Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it. - Edmund Burke

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

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

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

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

It is the soothing thing about history that it does repeat itself. - Gertrude Stein

History is a tool used by politicians to justify their intentions. - Ted Koppei

History is a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man. - Percy Bysshe Shelley

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

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

There's a good reason why nobody studies history. It just teaches you too much. - Noam Chomsky

The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice! - Dwight D Eisenhower

If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians. - Warren Buffett

There has never been a better time in history to be an environmental radiation researcher. - Steven Magee

History never repeats itself. The historians repeat each other. There is a wide difference. - Oscar Wilde

In the whole history of technology it would be difficult to find a greater single advance than this. - L.T.C. Rolt

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. - Will Durant

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

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is God's Gift. That's why we call it the 'Present.' - Bill Keane

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

We're at a point in history where everyone needs to pay attention to politics. Too much is at stake for us to be apathetic. - Kevin Costner

I often say of George Washington that he was one of the few in the whole history of the world who was not carried away by power. - Robert Frost

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

God created us for love, for union, for forgiveness and compassion and, yet, that has not been our storyline. That has not been our history. - Richard Rohr

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm any hostility. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I know of no other man in our time, or indeed in recent history, who so convincingly demonstrated the power of the spirit over material things. - Stafford Cripps

Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic. - Bertrand Russell


see also   History  Section
1910 Street Light Replacement
1920 Strongwoman
1934 Modern Home
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27-Jun-2022