Let’s face. Our ancestors used to smell. You probably won’t read about personal hygiene in history books but the historians all will tell you attention to one’s body odors was more-or-less unknown until recent years. The “good old days” may have been good but they also were smelly.
Writing in the Irish Examiner, Robert Hume investigates what our ancestors did to keep themselves cool and deal with body odor. Or, as the Irish write it, “odour.”
Here are a few of Hume’s statements:
“The fondness for bathing stopped once the medieval church warned of the evils of nudity. In Europe, bathhouses were closed down in the 14th century as a way of trying to check the spread of plague.”
“Aristocrats were often as dirty as peasants. A visitor to King Louis XVI’s court at Versailles described it as a ‘stinking cesspit’”.
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