The word “hygiene” in the first millennium, certainly among Anglo-Saxons, was an oxymoron.

For example, people dug latrine pits outside the back of their houses, seemingly unproblematic by the smell, which would have mixed deliciously with their animal droppings and similarly spicy perfumes.

The flies, of course, must have had a picnic. A good homeless man in the latrines, followed by a stroll through whatever food they could find in the house, certainly made their day.

For some reason, the Anglo-Saxon thought it fair and reasonable for his body to take in any parasite that was eager for shelter. The whipworm, despite its name, was relatively harmless. The mawworm, however, was not. It favored people’s livers and lungs, and it had the most surprising habit of suddenly appearing out of the corner of someone’s eye.

Fleas, on the other hand, were not well tolerated. A number of methods were used to rid the homeowner of these pests, one of which was to place sheepskins around the bed and wait for the little brutes to leave the bed and hug the sheepskin, for so to speak. Since the sheepskin was white, or almost white, the flea could be seen as soon as it landed.

I suppose they gently pounded the bed to encourage their exodus, but once in the sheepskin, the homeowner would presumably jump out of hiding, wave a club, and lay around it, sending as many fleas to the promised land as possible. possible.

It almost goes without saying that bathing wasn’t the most popular hobby, either. The monks of a tenth. European monasteries in the 20th century were ordered to bathe 5 times a year. Now, to the average Anglo-Saxon, this was bigotry. Once a year, fine. Twice, if you were one of those pesky ones, but five times? Let’s go!

Mind you, it seems that at the other end of the scale, the Danes would bathe and comb their hair every week. Now while this was frowned upon (I am surprised the church did not issue a sanction for such radical behavior), the commentator on this Danish custom was forced to admit that it seemed to give them a distinct advantage when it came to the ladies.

So there was absolutely no concept of hygiene or cleanliness in any way. But again, the Lord would protect him. If by chance you dropped a piece of food on the ground, which as you can imagine would be covered in all kinds of excrement, the best advice was to pick it up, make the sign of the Cross on it, season it well and pop it. in your mouth!

Let me leave you with this thought. Acupuncture. No, not with needles, but with red-hot iron punches. There was even a book that showed the points on the body where the pokers should be applied.

Enjoy your dinner!

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