People have the notion that the medieval ages were just dirt, filth, more dirt, disease, and darkness. And we’ll there was a lot of dirt and disease, much like the world today, and yes public sanitization did not exist. However, there is one notion that is wrong, the thought that medieval people were simply filthy – this is not correct. People did wash and take baths during the Middle Ages.
It is often believed that medieval men and women did not give much thought to personal hygiene or keeping clean, with a nineteenth-century historian writing that there were no baths in a human’s daily life until thousands of years later. Evidence today shows that bathing and baths were quite common in the Middle Ages. Though it was all done in a different way than you may expect.
The myths come from the many stories of famous people from the Middle Ages never taking a bath, for example, St Fintan of Clonenagh was thought to take a bath just once a year. And there are references from the Anglo-Saxons believing that Vikings were overly concerned with being clean as they were taking baths once a week.
People were aware that keeping your face and hands clean was a good idea, health manuals from this period in time do instruct people to get rid of dirt and grime. And the manuals even explain why it is important to keep one’s body clean. Many medieval writers saw bathing as a very serious subject that had to be taken carefully.
A medieval book by the name of Secreta Secretorum has an entire section dedicated to bathing. Some famous sites for bathing had their own rules entirely, such as the Italian town of Burmi. Where if you followed the rules of not eating before the bath, not getting your hair wet and bathing at least one hour for 15 days in a row it was thought you would have good health for six months.
Of course, the problem was that not many people could afford a private bath and this why undoubtedly you did have many people who were much cleaner than others.