What did people in the Middle Ages smell like?

They were ankle-deep in a putrid mix of wet mud, rotten fish, garbage, entrails, and animal dung. People dumped their own buckets of faeces and urine into the street or simply sloshed it out the window.

Did everyone smell bad in the Middle Ages?

But, as town populations continued to rise, the battle became increasingly hard and raw sewage continued to flow into the Thames until the nineteenth century. The towns smelled bad and, by the end of the Middle Ages, it is likely that the majority of people smelled pretty bad too.

How do medieval people smell?

Asides from normal body odor, it would depend. Bathing was more common than people nowdays think and most Medieval people tried to keep clean as much was reasonable. A richer noble or merchant might also use perfumes or other such things to smell nicer while others would likely smell of their surroundings.


What did medieval perfumes smell like?

Essential oils used for scents included lavender, patchouli, sandalwood, and lemon. Many of these essential oils added desirable scents, and they often had medicinal properties that helped with health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Flowers and leaves were also used to make perfume.

Did people smell bad a long time ago?

Before germs and pathogens were fully understood, people of medieval Europe often equated bad smells with disease, which makes a sort of rudimentary sense when you think about sanitation. So smelling bad and having bad breath, for example, were considered very negative things related to illness.


What did People in the Middle Ages Smell Like? [Medieval Professions: Perfumer]



Did Vikings smell bad?

1. With all the pillaging and murdering, the common perception is that Vikings were rugged, dirty and smelly, but actually Viking men were surprisingly clean. Not only did they bathe once a week, but tweezers, combs, ear cleaners and razors have been unearthed at Viking sites.

How bad was body odor in the Old West?

Body odor was pretty bad. Pioneers had no deodorant, shampoo or commercial toilet paper. They didn't bathe often, and they rarely changed clothes. Women didn't shave their armpits or legs.

What did soap smell like in medieval times?

Around the 11th century, the return of Crusaders brought the hamam tradition back to Europe along with scented treasures like musk and civet. At the time, most household soaps were rough and smelled like the ash and animal fats they were made from, so were rarely used on the skin.

What did ancient Romans smell like?

In Rome, frankincense, cinnamon, myrrh, and nard, were widely used in Imperial age temples, with frankincense and myrrh being the most popular.


What would a goddess smell like?

This highly feminine scent will bring out the goddess within. The scent includes lily-of-the-valley, green notes, white flowers, dew drops, akigalawood, jasmine, wild rose, and musk. It's a natural scent, perfect for the outdoors-loving goddess.

Did castles stink?

Often the moat surrounding the castle was used as a sewer. Both the moat and the castle quickly became smelly and dirty. It's said that the kings and queens of England never stayed longer than eight weeks in one of their castles because of the build-up of foul odors.

What was hygiene like in the Middle Ages?

Soap was sometimes used and hair was washed using an alkaline solution such as the one obtained from mixing lime and salt. Teeth were cleaned using twigs (especially hazel) and small pieces of wool cloth.

What did London smell like in the 1800s?

It had choking, sooty fogs; the Thames River was thick with human sewage; and the streets were covered with mud. But according to Lee Jackson, author of Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth, mud was actually a euphemism. "It was essentially composed of horse dung," he tells Fresh Air's Sam Briger.


How often did peasants wash?

For peasants, however, that often wasn't an option. Those who could afford more than one set of clothing changed into fresh garments once each week while washing their other clothing. Many peasants slept unclothed at night when the weather permitted, meaning they needed even less clothing.

How did people deal with body odor?

With this in mind, the few who did bathe regularly took special precautions, like anointing the body with oil and wrapping themselves in a scented cloth. Hair could be rubbed with aromatic powders, and bad breath was improved by chewing pungent herbs.

When was deodorant first used?

The first deodorant, which kills odor-producing bacteria, was called Mum and had been trademarked in 1888, while the first antiperspirant, which thwarts both sweat-production and bacterial growth, was called Everdry and launched in 1903.

Were Roman baths hygienic?

Hygiene in ancient Rome included the famous public Roman baths, toilets, exfoliating cleansers, public facilities, and—despite the use of a communal toilet sponge (ancient Roman Charmin®)—generally high standards of cleanliness.


What did ancient battlefields smell like?

The pungent stench of sulfur wrought by exploding gunpowder dominated the battlefields of the Civil War. With the firing of tens of thousands of muskets and hundreds of cannons, the distinct smell of gunpowder rendered even the most floral landscape a wasteland of rotting eggs.

How smelly was Rome?

The ancient Romans lived in smelly cities. We know this from archaeological evidence found at the best-preserved sites of Roman Italy — Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ostia and Rome — as well as from contemporary literary references. When I say smelly, I mean eye-wateringly, pungently smelly. Even the entertainment reeked.

What did the 18th century smell like?

When historians delve into the archive and start sniffing, there are five scents that waft from the annals of the 18th century with particular pungency: rose, fish, ammonia, tobacco and paint. This rich bouquet can tell us a lot about how Georgians saw (and smelled) their world, as we explore over the following pages.

What did people before deodorant?

Before deodorant was introduced in the late-1800s, women used a combination of regular washing and copious amounts of perfume to combat body odor—and at the time, body odor was not considered an issue for men as it was viewed as masculine.


What would you smell in ancient Greece?

As heirs to Ancient Egyptian science, the Greeks had developed distillation techniques to create essences for their favorite scents, such as laurel, marjoram, iris, and cardamom.

What do cowboys smell like?

First: let's decode exactly what constitutes the scent of a cowboy. The original poster had a few ideas of their own, listing “sagebrush, hay, wood, grass, a dusty road, whisky, suede, but most importantly, GUNPOWDER” on her wish list of smells. There has to be the scent of worn-out leather in there too.

How did Cowboys shower?

Most folks on the frontier bathed in rivers or ponds when they were available or took sponge baths from a metal or porcelain basin. But there were plenty of people who seldom did that!

How often did men bathe in the Old West?

To preserve water, people would refrain from washing dishes and clothing or use bathwater for that purpose. Often, entire families used the same tub of water, a weekly occurrence if they were lucky. When Rose Pender visited the West, she delighted in the "refreshing bath," a "luxury" she had not had for 10 days.