BOOK REVIEWS

Tudor Odours (Smelly Old History, Scratch N Sniff Your Way Through the Past) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-05-07 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 4 user ratings
ISBN:0199100969
LANGUAGE:English

" Since this was published in 1997, the likely hood of you finding a new copy with fresh smells is slim. Despite its age and lack of smells, this book however is not obsolete. It also focuses on daily life through this time period, instead of devoting all its text to the famous royals.Read my full review at my blog: The Non Fiction Manifesto: http://non-fic-manifesto.blogspot.com... " said.

"Reading Mary Dobson's absorbing (but not in the smelly sense for the sniff and scratch patches had worn out!) book makes one realise what it must have been like to live in Tudor times. In towns the streets were foul, in the country it wasn't much better and it was difficult for people to keep clean.
Whether prince or pauper odours were released in all directions and in addition you had to put up with everyone else's as well. And this was the case throughout the reign of the Tudors, 1485 to 1603.

The streets were overflowing with stinking filth, open drains were a festering stream of murky mud, pig manure and cattle dung were piled high and was buzzing with flies. And if stepping in something horrible was a worry, there was always the threat of more from above! There were no indoor toilets and there were no proper drains so the only solution was to throw all the slops and filth out of the window onto the streets.

Many people felt that country living was preferable to town living as the country air filled the lungs with well-being. But inside, the country cottage was not healthy, it was far from fragrant as the floor was covered with layers of rushes, each one festering with the previous year's rubbish. There was only one redeeming feature in that the rubbish was rich in saltpetre and every now and again the so-called 'Saltpetre Men' would invade people's cottages and dig up their smelly floors. The saltpetre was used for making explosives for cannons and guns.

Even the royals were reeking; Elizabeth I carried a pomander divided into sections, each section contained a different smell to ward off foul diseases and Henry VII, after his victory at Bosworth, had his coronation delayed because of a strange disease named the English Sweat. Henry VIII lost one of his big toes that became diseased and rotted away and Elizabeth I's gums rotted and her teeth went black from eating too much sugar. Apparently she stuffed rags in her mouth to puff up her cheeks, hoping that no-one would notice the rot but her bad breath gave it away - ugh!

The stench of war was also revolting, for instance when the Spanish Armada was defeated in 1588 the British warships were awash with vomit and were crawling with rats. In addition the barber-surgeon (now there's a combination) had dirty instruments and many wounds went septic and stank. Once again there was a redeeming feature (if one could call it such), the maggots from the ship's biscuits would crawl into the wounds and eat up the bad bits of gangrene - ugh again!

People carrying out odorous occupations included the scavenger and raker, who would gather up all the filth from the streets and dump it somewhere else, the butcher and fishmonger, who sold rotten meat and fish, the ratcatcher, the clapperdudgeon, who was a pretend beggar, the candle maker and the witch. The last mentioned is interesting for in order to see if the person really was a witch they would be immersed in water; if the person floated she was guilty and therefore hanged, if she drowned she was innocent - pity about that!

Even leisure time could be filthy. Watching the plays of William Shakespeare at The Globe in a sweaty pit was far from healthy, Tudor football was rough and bloody, bear-baiting and cock-fighting drew unhealthy crowds as did wrestling matches. All very unwholesome.

The rich and famous did try to make their Tudor homes like perfumed palaces; the floors were sprinkled with sweet herbs but underneath the herbs, the rushes on the floor were still encrusted with animal and human filth. And in the bedrooms lavender was pressed between the linen to perfume the sheets and keep away illness. But to counteract that, the sheets were only washed every few months!

Let us finish with Elizabeth I who had a highly sensitive nose. Her courtier and godson Sir John Harrington invented for her the first flushing lavatory, which he called 'Ajax'. Elizabeth erected it in her palace at Richmond and was said to be 'well-disposed' to it! At least it was better than the chamber pot, that was regularly emptied out of the window or sometimes its contents were thrown into the open fireplace. This was a smellier alternative for the inhabitants and often it would put out the fire!

All one can say after reading this entertaining, if sometimes nauseating, diatribe of disastrous smells, is 'Thank goodness for modern home comforts'.
" said.

" Since this was published in 1997, the likely hood of you finding a new copy with fresh smells is slim. Despite its age and lack of smells, this book however is not obsolete. It also focuses on daily life through this time period, instead of devoting all its text to the famous royals.Read my full review at my blog: The Non Fiction Manifesto: http://non-fic-manifesto.blogspot.com... " said.

" Since this was published in 1997, the likely hood of you finding a new copy with fresh smells is slim. Despite its age and lack of smells, this book however is not obsolete. It also focuses on daily life through this time period, instead of devoting all its text to the famous royals.Read my full review at my blog: The Non Fiction Manifesto: http://non-fic-manifesto.blogspot.com... " said.

" Since this was published in 1997, the likely hood of you finding a new copy with fresh smells is slim. Despite its age and lack of smells, this book however is not obsolete. It also focuses on daily life through this time period, instead of devoting all its text to the famous royals.Read my full review at my blog: The Non Fiction Manifesto: http://non-fic-manifesto.blogspot.com... " said.

" Since this was published in 1997, the likely hood of you finding a new copy with fresh smells is slim. Despite its age and lack of smells, this book however is not obsolete. It also focuses on daily life through this time period, instead of devoting all its text to the famous royals.Read my full review at my blog: The Non Fiction Manifesto: http://non-fic-manifesto.blogspot.com... " said.

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