Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on March 28, 2012

in Cleaned by Capitalism, History, Standard of Living

… is about Europe in the 14th & 15th centuries; it’s from pages 244-245 of Will Durant’s 1957 volume The Reformation:

Social and individual hygiene hardly kept pace with the advances of medicine.  Personal cleanliness was not a fetish; even the King of England bathed only once a week, and sometimes skipped….  In all Europe – not always excepting the aristocracy – the same article of clothing was worn for months, or years, or generations.  Many cities had a water supply, but it reached only a few homes; most families had to fetch water from the nearest fountain, well, or spring.  The air of London was befouled by the odor of slaughtered cattle, till such carnage was forbidden in 1371.  The smell of latrines detracted from the idyllic fantasies of rural life.  London tenements had but one latrine for all occupants; many houses had none at all, and emptied their ordure into the yards or streets.  Thousands of privies poured into the Thames; a city ordinance of 1357 denounced this, but the practice continued.

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