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Halitosis and friends….

The Early Moderns were not big on baths. These were the people of the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Witch Craze, the Inquisition, and they did not smell very nice.   In fact, perfume was big among the early moderns—not to make themselves smell good, but rather to mask the smell of others around them. Elizabeth I only bathed once a month. She was sixteenth-century; the seventeenth century was worse. Water was not viewed as a reliable means to cleanliness. It was, in fact, downright hazardous to one’s health. Medical opinion of the day held that a thick layer of...

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People in the past just smelled…..

People in the past just smelled, it’s true. But they smelled worse during certain centuries. So, let’s talk about bathing. I’ll be going backwards through time, breaking this discussion up over three posts: eighteenth century (here), sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in another post,  and then the Middle Ages. And maybe I’ll talk about the Romans in yet another post—they did some weird stuff with olive oil.   So, today: mid-eighteenth century through the Regency: the era, par excellence, of The Romance. Because of historical periodization, the eighteenth-century sort of gets a bad rap. I had a professor tell me once...

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