Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Tudors & Baths

Well, we all know that the hygiene was lacking (to say the least) at the court of the Tudors. But it appears from recently discovered documents that the Tudors bathed and washed more than we have thought so far. So, let's take a look at some of the Tudors - who were the clean ones and who skipped their baths?

But strangely enough, Henry VIII defied the health advises from the doctors and bathed! At Hampton Court Palace (Bayne Tower) he had a large tub installed which was the height of what technology could do: it was heated by a stove in the room next door and the hot water was led from there to the King's tub. Henry's wound his leg was constantly aching and the King chose to bathe in a mixture of herbs and musk - attempting to ease the pain.
The King even went so far as to take herbal baths - except when the sweating sickness was out.

Mary, Queen of Scots was also fond of bathing. According to rumours the Scottish Queen liked to bathe in wine!

Also Elizabeth I bathed frequently compared to her courtiers. It is reported that the Queen bathed at least once every month - and to her contemporaries that was almost too much! The Queen's sharpened sense of smell might have contributed to the frequent baths but Elizabeth still joins the league of the "clean" Tudors!

But of course, not everyone followed these royal examples as you can see from the following examples:

Anne of Cleves followed German traditions and hardly ever bathed. When she was engaged to Henry VIII her advisers allegedly had to work hard on convincing Anne that she had to bathe before she met the King.

Besides Henry VIII's bath tub at Hampton Court, the royal family also had access to bath tubs at the Tower and Windsor Castle. Henry VIII actually built yet another bathroom at Whitehall at the end of the 1540's.
Other courtiers would buy soap and scented water to clean their hands and douche their bodies. The very wealthy could even afford perfume to sprinkle on the body in an attempt to get rid off the smell.

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