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Hygiene in 18th Century France

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  • versailles1017
    What a horrible thought…. the beautifully gowned and coiffed Marie Antoinette with head lice and b.o. I don’t know about the head lice, but chances are
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 3, 2005
      "What a horrible thought…. the beautifully gowned and coiffed Marie Antoinette with head lice and b.o. I don’t know about the head lice, but chances are she did have b.o. that would bring tears to your eyes.

      "No roll-on anti-perspirant, no dandruff shampoo, no pads/tampons, no toothpaste nor toothbrush….. how did people function without what are considered (in the USA anyway) life necessities?

      What was a beautiful queen to do?

      That's just the beginning of my post "Hygiene in 18th Century France" in the 'Files' section (that Axel may again re-format for me).
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/files/

      So do check it out. Your comments here are welcome.

      You could stop and smell the roses, and tiptoe through the tulips only if you weren't down-wind from Francois.

      Versailles
    • Davidinscarboro@aol.com
      But people did bathe from time to time, didn t they? Marat famously did. David
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 3, 2005
        But people did bathe from time to time, didn't they? Marat famously did.
        David

      • Aurora Walderhaug
        Hi, I m a lurker who rarely speaks in forums and mailinglists, but always feels obliged to do so whenever someone mentions the extremely-bad-hygiene of the
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 3, 2005
          Hi,
          I'm a lurker who rarely speaks in forums and mailinglists, but always feels obliged to do so whenever someone mentions the "extremely-bad-hygiene" of the 18th century.
           
          Well, I must admit I'm not an expert, but toothbrushes actually existed in the 18th century- as far as I know they did at least as early as in the 17h century. Of course it must be harder to avoid bad odours etc. without roll-on antiperspirants, schampoo etc.etc., but surely there must have been fairly effective ways to get rid of stench. And by the way, people did bathe (not only Marat, who was forced to do it because of his skin disease) and wash themselves. At least the rich and the nobles, who had the time and means to do it. Maybe MA didn't smell quite as perfect as a woman of today would, but I don't think she stank like an unwashed old rabbit cage just because of that.
           
          /Aurora
           

          versailles1017 <versailles1017@...> wrote:


          "What a horrible thought…. the beautifully gowned and coiffed Marie Antoinette with head lice and b.o. I don’t know about the head lice, but chances are she did have b.o. that would bring tears to your eyes.

          "No roll-on anti-perspirant, no dandruff shampoo, no pads/tampons, no toothpaste nor toothbrush….. how did people function without what are considered (in the USA anyway) life necessities?

          What was a beautiful queen to do?

          That's just the beginning of my post "Hygiene in 18th Century France" in the 'Files' section (that Axel may again re-format for me).
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/files/

          So do check it out. Your comments here are welcome.

          You could stop and smell the roses, and tiptoe through the tulips only if you weren't down-wind from Francois.

          Versailles








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        • Marged
          The toilette of the day was part of the entertainment that gallants could be permitted to witness - not the grande toilette, but the later, less thorough
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 3, 2005
            The toilette of the day was part of the "entertainment" that gallants could
            be permitted to witness - not the grande toilette, but the later, less
            thorough one, where the lady concerned could be watched performing her
            ablutions, including washing of the "arms pits" whilst wearing only a
            chemise.

            I am just about to go to bed, and will check the exact details of this.

            MA was very particular and didn't even drink the same water as others

            Marged


            THIS POST REPLIES TO AURORA'S POST FOUND AT THIS LINK
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/message/1379

            --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, Aurora Walderhaug <madame_de_montalia@y...> wrote:
            > Hi,
            > I'm a lurker who rarely speaks in forums and mailinglists, but always feels obliged to do so whenever someone mentions the "extremely-bad-hygiene" of the 18th century.

            Well, I must admit I'm not an expert, but toothbrushes actually existed in
            the 18th century- as far as I know they did at least as early as in the 17h
            century. Of course it must be harder to avoid bad odours etc. without
            roll-on antiperspirants, schampoo etc.etc., but surely there must have been
            fairly effective ways to get rid of stench. And by the way, people did bathe
            (not only Marat, who was forced to do it because of his skin disease) and
            wash themselves. At least the rich and the nobles, who had the time and
            means to do it. Maybe MA didn't smell quite as perfect as a woman of today
            would, but I don't think she stank like an unwashed old rabbit cage just
            because of that.



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          • versailles1017
            Hi David: From what I read, people only bathed (total body emersion) when a physician/surgeon told them to. How much attention are you going to pay to a guy
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 4, 2005
              Hi David:

              From what I read, people only 'bathed' (total body emersion) when a
              physician/surgeon told them to. How much attention are you going to
              pay to a guy who bleeds you, gives you an enema, or makes you throw
              up every time you see him? I think that one 'bathed' when the Stench-
              O -Meter hit 'reek'. How long could a person go without washing,
              especially in the summer parading around in floor-length gowns and
              dousing oneself with cologne?

              I've also read that bathing was an occasional part of Marie
              Antoinette's 'lever' I have a book that shows the private apartments
              of Marie Antoinette (those rooms never included in the palace tour);
              her 'great bathroom' was enormous and did include a bathtub. BUT,
              the Queen wore a neck to ankles 'bathing gown' that was rubbed
              against her body to make her clean.

              Too bad that they didn't follow up with industrial strength 'Secret'
              roll on, cause in 90 degrees and humid, nobody had any secrets.




              --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com,
              Davidinscarboro@a... wrote:
              > But people did bathe from time to time, didn't they? Marat
              famously did.
              > David
            • versailles1017
              Hi David: Marat suffered fom a terrible skin condition that necessitated his bathing on a regular basis. Between this and his arm pits, he couldn t wait to
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 4, 2005
                Hi David:

                Marat suffered fom a terrible skin condition that necessitated his
                bathing on a regular basis. Between this and his arm pits, he
                couldn't wait to jump in the tub.



                --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com,
                Davidinscarboro@a... wrote:
                > But people did bathe from time to time, didn't they? Marat
                famously did.
                > David
              • versailles1017
                Hi Aurora: Crude toothbrushes did exist, but they weren t popular because they did more harm than good. Made from boar s hair, the bristles were not very
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 4, 2005
                  Hi Aurora:

                  Crude toothbrushes did exist, but they weren't popular because they
                  did more harm than good. Made from boar's hair, the bristles were
                  not very flexible. If your teeth were not in good shape, one good
                  scrape with a bunch of boar's hairs and you're on a liquid diet.

                  Imagine a hot,humid day in July and you're getting dressed at
                  Versailles. First you put on your undergarments that you've been
                  wearing for the past three days. Then your hoops and petticoats that
                  you don't wear every day but have not been washed since you acquired
                  them. Next the heavy gown, floor length with a tight bodice that has
                  six months of dried persperation in the arm pits. Let's face it; you
                  stink. So you liberally sprinkle a heavy, sweet smelling cologne all
                  over. Now you reek.

                  In many respects, the peasants had an easier time with odor than the
                  nobility. They didn't have the fashion requirements so thye could
                  dress accordingly and, after all, one expects a peasant to stink.
                  And they didn't disappoint.

                  Versailles


                  --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, Aurora Walderhaug
                  <madame_de_montalia@y...> wrote:
                  > Hi,
                  > I'm a lurker who rarely speaks in forums and mailinglists, but
                  always feels obliged to do so whenever someone mentions
                  the "extremely-bad-hygiene" of the 18th century.
                  >
                  > Well, I must admit I'm not an expert, but toothbrushes actually
                  existed in the 18th century- as far as I know they did at least as
                  early as in the 17h century. Of course it must be harder to avoid
                  bad odours etc. without roll-on antiperspirants, schampoo etc.etc.,
                  but surely there must have been fairly effective ways to get rid of
                  stench. And by the way, people did bathe (not only Marat, who was
                  forced to do it because of his skin disease) and wash themselves. At
                  least the rich and the nobles, who had the time and means to do it.
                  Maybe MA didn't smell quite as perfect as a woman of today would,
                  but I don't think she stank like an unwashed old rabbit cage just
                  because of that.
                  >
                  > /Aurora
                  >
                  >
                  > versailles1017 <versailles1017@y...> wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > "What a horrible thought…. the beautifully gowned and coiffed
                  Marie Antoinette with head lice and b.o. I don't know about the head
                  lice, but chances are she did have b.o. that would bring tears to
                  your eyes.
                  >
                • KAT
                  Hi, Like in Roman times in the 18th century bath houses as well as bathtubs actually existed! Most decent homes had a wash basin where they would sponge
                  Message 8 of 11 , Feb 5, 2005
                    Hi,

                    Like in Roman times in the 18th century bath houses as well as bathtubs
                    actually existed!
                    Most decent homes had a wash basin where they would sponge themselves
                    off, a pee pot
                    and even a bide' (I still see wooden ones here in Sweden with porcelain
                    inside it).

                    I have also seen chairs used as toilets from the 18th century. There are
                    still porcelain
                    examples from various factories of these pitchers, wash basins, pee
                    pots, and even
                    carriage pots.

                    Carriage pots! These were portible pottys for fine ladies and lads that
                    could be
                    taken in the carriage and used while travelling. When you think about it
                    we are
                    not even that advanced today to have a portible carriage pot for our
                    cars yet
                    they had this in the 18th century. Funny that we think they were so
                    unhygenic
                    during that time. They might think it odd that we don't carry a carriage
                    pot with us
                    while travelling.

                    ....another thought......or have patches or masks to cover our unsightly
                    blemishes.

                    It is all relative!

                    Kathleen







                    Marged wrote:

                    >
                    > The toilette of the day was part of the "entertainment" that gallants
                    > could
                    > be permitted to witness - not the grande toilette, but the later, less
                    > thorough one, where the lady concerned could be watched performing her
                    > ablutions, including washing of the "arms pits" whilst wearing only a
                    > chemise.
                    >
                    > I am just about to go to bed, and will check the exact details of this.
                    >
                    > MA was very particular and didn't even drink the same water as others
                    >
                    > Marged
                    >
                    >
                    > THIS POST REPLIES TO AURORA'S POST FOUND AT THIS LINK
                    > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/message/1379
                    >
                    > --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, Aurora Walderhaug
                    > <madame_de_montalia@y...> wrote:
                    > > Hi,
                    > > I'm a lurker who rarely speaks in forums and mailinglists, but
                    > always feels obliged to do so whenever someone mentions the
                    > "extremely-bad-hygiene" of the 18th century.
                    >
                    > Well, I must admit I'm not an expert, but toothbrushes actually existed in
                    > the 18th century- as far as I know they did at least as early as in
                    > the 17h
                    > century. Of course it must be harder to avoid bad odours etc. without
                    > roll-on antiperspirants, schampoo etc.etc., but surely there must have
                    > been
                    > fairly effective ways to get rid of stench. And by the way, people did
                    > bathe
                    > (not only Marat, who was forced to do it because of his skin disease) and
                    > wash themselves. At least the rich and the nobles, who had the time and
                    > means to do it. Maybe MA didn't smell quite as perfect as a woman of today
                    > would, but I don't think she stank like an unwashed old rabbit cage just
                    > because of that.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > --
                    > No virus found in this outgoing message.
                    > Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                    > Version: 7.0.302 / Virus Database: 265.8.5 - Release Date: 03/02/05
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    > *Yahoo! Groups Links*
                    >
                    > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
                    > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/
                    >
                    > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                    > Images_of_Marie_Antoinette-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                    > <mailto:Images_of_Marie_Antoinette-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe>
                    >
                    > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
                    > Service <http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/>.
                    >
                    >
                  • versailles1017
                    Hi KAT: I don t think it is the pot, bidet, pitcher, or basin....it s what you do with it once it s been used several times. And how do you gracefully use a
                    Message 9 of 11 , Feb 5, 2005
                      Hi KAT:

                      I don't think it is the pot, bidet, pitcher, or basin....it's what
                      you do with it once it's been used several times. And how do you
                      gracefully use a pot when seated with strangrs or, worse yet,
                      family. Somehow an "excuse me" won't cut it when you've pulled your
                      floor-length gown up over your head and have your hand inside your
                      three-day-old underpants trying to situate a pot. And that's just to
                      urinate. I don't want to think about other things. It was bad enough
                      in a carriage; I wouldn't want to try it in a Hyundai. I'm just
                      picturing a tour bus pulling up beside my car just as I get the pot
                      in place. Do I smile and wave?


                      Rich (versailles)











                      --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, KAT <xymox@s...>
                      wrote:
                      > Hi,
                      >
                      > Like in Roman times in the 18th century bath houses as well as
                      bathtubs
                      > actually existed!
                      > Most decent homes had a wash basin where they would sponge
                      themselves
                      > off, a pee pot
                      > and even a bide' (I still see wooden ones here in Sweden with
                      porcelain
                      > inside it).
                      >
                      > I have also seen chairs used as toilets from the 18th century.
                      There are
                      > still porcelain
                      > examples from various factories of these pitchers, wash basins,
                      pee
                      > pots, and even
                      > carriage pots.
                      >
                      > Carriage pots! These were portible pottys for fine ladies and lads
                      that
                      > could be
                      > taken in the carriage and used while travelling. When you think
                      about it
                      > we are
                      > not even that advanced today to have a portible carriage pot for
                      our
                      > cars yet
                      > they had this in the 18th century. Funny that we think they were
                      so
                      > unhygenic
                      > during that time. They might think it odd that we don't carry a
                      carriage
                      > pot with us
                      > while travelling.
                      >
                      > ....another thought......or have patches or masks to cover our
                      unsightly
                      > blemishes.
                      >
                      > It is all relative!
                      >
                      > Kathleen
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Marged wrote:
                      >
                      > >
                      > > The toilette of the day was part of the "entertainment" that
                      gallants
                      > > could
                      > > be permitted to witness - not the grande toilette, but the
                      later, less
                      > > thorough one, where the lady concerned could be watched
                      performing her
                      > > ablutions, including washing of the "arms pits" whilst wearing
                      only a
                      > > chemise.
                      > >
                      > > I am just about to go to bed, and will check the exact details
                      of this.
                      > >
                      > > MA was very particular and didn't even drink the same water as
                      others
                      > >
                      > > Marged
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > THIS POST REPLIES TO AURORA'S POST FOUND AT THIS LINK
                      > >
                      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/message/1379
                      > >
                      > > --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, Aurora
                      Walderhaug
                      > > <madame_de_montalia@y...> wrote:
                      > > > Hi,
                      > > > I'm a lurker who rarely speaks in forums and mailinglists, but
                      > > always feels obliged to do so whenever someone mentions the
                      > > "extremely-bad-hygiene" of the 18th century.
                      > >
                      > > Well, I must admit I'm not an expert, but toothbrushes actually
                      existed in
                      > > the 18th century- as far as I know they did at least as early as
                      in
                      > > the 17h
                      > > century. Of course it must be harder to avoid bad odours etc.
                      without
                      > > roll-on antiperspirants, schampoo etc.etc., but surely there
                      must have
                      > > been
                      > > fairly effective ways to get rid of stench. And by the way,
                      people did
                      > > bathe
                      > > (not only Marat, who was forced to do it because of his skin
                      disease) and
                      > > wash themselves. At least the rich and the nobles, who had the
                      time and
                      > > means to do it. Maybe MA didn't smell quite as perfect as a
                      woman of today
                      > > would, but I don't think she stank like an unwashed old rabbit
                      cage just
                      > > because of that.
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > --
                      > > No virus found in this outgoing message.
                      > > Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                      > > Version: 7.0.302 / Virus Database: 265.8.5 - Release Date:
                      03/02/05
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > -----------------------------------------------------------------
                      -------
                      > > *Yahoo! Groups Links*
                      > >
                      > > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
                      > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/
                      > >
                      > > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                      > > Images_of_Marie_Antoinette-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                      > > <mailto:Images_of_Marie_Antoinette-
                      unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe>
                      > >
                      > > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
                      > > Service <http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/>.
                      > >
                      > >
                    • doritmi
                      And how do you gracefully use a pot when seated with strangrs or, worse yet, family. Somehow an excuse me won t cut it when you ve pulled your floor-length
                      Message 10 of 11 , Feb 5, 2005
                        "And how do you gracefully use a pot when seated with strangrs or,
                        worse yet, family. Somehow an "excuse me" won't cut it when you've
                        pulled your floor-length gown up over your head and have your hand
                        inside your three-day-old underpants trying to situate a pot.... >

                        when you live in a period, you live according to its cultural habits
                        and its possibilities, not according to what people will think 300
                        years later. our notions of privacy and decorum were not the notions
                        of the people in the 17-18th century, and for them, the public aspect
                        of a lot of these behaviors were not as embarassing as they were for
                        us (and hey, remember, America is a bit more puritanical about these
                        things than most of the rest of the world).
                        As for hygene, you are probably right that inside palaces and houses
                        were much filthier than we can get them with modern cleaning
                        products; seas, rivers and outdoors were probably cleaner, though.
                        people did clean their teeth, as mentioned by members; bathing habits
                        changed from place to place, and remember when you discuss them, that
                        especially in the palaces, rooms were often not well heated; you gave
                        us very vivid descriptions of the stench in summer, why don't we go
                        into descriptions of people having to get out of the bath in January
                        in 18th century versailles and shiver? maybe there was a reason to be
                        wary of bathing.

                        "Carriage pots! These were portible pottys for fine ladies and lads
                        that could be taken in the carriage and used while travelling."

                        well, we have bathrooms in trains and planes.
                      • Jan_Neptune
                        --Very perceptive and very amusing. You have to remember that when Marie is primary occupant of this Chateau that two previous occupants have already
                        Message 11 of 11 , Feb 10, 2005
                          --Very perceptive and very amusing. You have to remember that when
                          Marie is primary occupant of this Chateau that two previous occupants
                          have already contributed to the stench. It does strike me a bit odd
                          that aqueducts were so easily built, that the machine of Marly was
                          such a great achievement, but nobody thought to do plumbing for the
                          obvious needs of simple hygiene! Peculiar, huh?
                          Jan

                          - In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, "doritmi"
                          <drub@u...> wrote:
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > "And how do you gracefully use a pot when seated with strangrs or,
                          > worse yet, family. Somehow an "excuse me" won't cut it when you've
                          > pulled your floor-length gown up over your head and have your hand
                          > inside your three-day-old underpants trying to situate a pot.... >
                          >
                          > when you live in a period, you live according to its cultural
                          habits
                          > and its possibilities, not according to what people will think 300
                          > years later. our notions of privacy and decorum were not the
                          notions
                          > of the people in the 17-18th century, and for them, the public
                          aspect
                          > of a lot of these behaviors were not as embarassing as they were
                          for
                          > us (and hey, remember, America is a bit more puritanical about
                          these
                          > things than most of the rest of the world).
                          > As for hygene, you are probably right that inside palaces and
                          houses
                          > were much filthier than we can get them with modern cleaning
                          > products; seas, rivers and outdoors were probably cleaner, though.
                          > people did clean their teeth, as mentioned by members; bathing
                          habits
                          > changed from place to place, and remember when you discuss them,
                          that
                          > especially in the palaces, rooms were often not well heated; you
                          gave
                          > us very vivid descriptions of the stench in summer, why don't we go
                          > into descriptions of people having to get out of the bath in
                          January
                          > in 18th century versailles and shiver? maybe there was a reason to
                          be
                          > wary of bathing.
                          >
                          > "Carriage pots! These were portible pottys for fine ladies and lads
                          > that could be taken in the carriage and used while travelling."
                          >
                          > well, we have bathrooms in trains and planes.
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