The 16th and 17th centuries saw a MASSIVE boom in population. This ultimately lead to a sanitation problem, as modern plumbing and cleaning methods were yet to be invented. Even those who were in power and lived in nice big buildings couldn’t escape the dirt and grime.
Henry VIII of England had so many people living and working in his palace that even he found himself huffing foul odours on the daily.
One big culprit of the terrible smells that lingered along the hallways were chamber pots. Buckets in which people would [email protected]#t and piss in and then hide in a closet or under a bed.
When people didn’t have immediate access to chamber pots, they would often relieve themselves in a corner, in the hallway, or even in a fireplace. Henry VIII’s palace did NOT smell good.
In an attempt to stop people from urinating and defecating in the garden beds, Henry VIII had red X’s painted on the walls. Did that stop people? Nope.
Speaking of sanitary… Henry’s cooks often opted to work naked in the kitchen, due to the heat. They did this so frequently that Henry had to issue a royal decree stating that cooks were forbidden to work naked.
Lice was also a constant pest in the palace. To avoid them, Henry had animal furs surrounding his bed.
Being a man of great wealth, Henry had a ton of food brought into his palace. More food than people needed to eat. Because of this, there was often a ton of rotting food left around to permeate the place.
In an attempt to alleviate the terrible smells, Henry had the halls filled with flowers. However, this did little to negate the scents of death, so the palace eventually had to be evacuated in order to be properly aired out.
In the absence of the court, the servants were tasked with cleaning. How did they clean? They were told to urinate into buckets and use that as soap.
In another attempt to ensure that the palace didn’t smell like [email protected]#t all the time, Henry ordered that all of the pee and poo that people produced be put into giant vats under the palace.
When the vats of [email protected]#t started to overflow, people called scourers were brought in to move it out of the area.
Life in Versailles wasn’t all that clean either. Louis XIV of France only bathed three times in his entire life, and he did NOT smell very good.
Visiting aristocrats of Versailles often used the entire grounds as their own personal poopers. Some of the even used the chapel as an outhouse!
Versailles was so ghastly at times that people were often hit with human feces that was thrown out of the window… apparently, Mary Antoinette was one such victim.
King Charles II loved his Spaniels. In fact, despite the fact that they were lice-infested he allowed them to sleep in his bed!
King James I of England supposedly never bathed at all. Not even once. He also brought lice into every room he slept in.
Unless you were a noble, you probably had to take your poops in an open room where people could walk right by you mid-plop.
Castles and palaces were often filled with rats, cats, and dogs. Floors were constantly filthy. To combat this, servants threw herbs onto the floor, leaving the hallways to be smelly, crunchy, and just downright ugly.