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This book shows the filthiness that led to the Black Plague in pre-modern Great Britian.
Here are some quotes:
"St. Agnes was never washed throughout her lifetime....and a fourth century pilgrim boasted that she had not washed her face for eighteen years so as not to disturb the holy water used at her baptism" p. 11.
"The dead Archbishop was clothed in an extraordinary accumulation of garments...The innumerable vermin which had infested the dead prelate were stimulated to such activity by the cold, that his hair cloth boiled over with them like water in a simmering cauldron" p. 19
"In this part of the city (Edinburgh)there are neither sewers nor drains... In consequence, all refuse, garbage and excrements of at least 50,000 persons are thrown into the gutters every night" p. 133
In 1842: In one part of Market Street is a dunghill, yet it is too large to be called a dunghill. I do not nistake its size when I say it contains a hundred cubit yards of impure filth, collected from all parts of town..." p.134
I first read this book back in '89. I loaned out my copy and it got loaned out again and again until I lost track of it. I purchased it again in '99 to reread and have just reread it again.
For anyone who has an interest in human societal evolution, THIS book is a must read. Factual, gross, intriguing, repulsive, fascinating, repugnant - HOW humans survived living in their own day to day filth, complete with their pests astounds me. Anyone with romantic notions of bygone centuries will re-evaluate their love affair. Lice, fleas, vermin, disease, the GREAT UNWASHED with silks and velvets and lace rotting on their very bodies.