With the lack of hygiene present in these times I could not dare to think how a woman would cope with her menstrual cycle. Toilets or privies were normally a piece of wood place over a hole in the ground. Toilet paper was normally things such as leaves or in the upper classes lamb’s wool. If you were lucky enough to live within the walls of a castle you may have the benefit of a Garderobe. This was much like a wardrobe, with a privy contained within. This would have the benefit of a very early form of waste disposal. Although the waste would be sent no further than the moat of the castle. Well I suppose it made intruders think twice about invasion.
Food amongst the poor was barely obtainable, amongst the rich the opposite. The eight course banquets would have a separate course for things such as fish and meat etc. But vegetables were not thought to be at all important. There would also be on most occasions a separate course for butter! So after the thrill of the festivities had gone. The contents of the bowels would remain for long after.
Now back to the topic of Tudor marital bliss. Marriage did not need to be secured with a wedding or reciting of vows. Oh no, wedlock was most often confirmed by the act of intercourse. I would like to see how the suffragettes would have reacted to this piece of information. Before marriage sex was forbidden. Women would wear their hair loose before being wed, after which they would be made to wear it secured. Hair was not to be cut for any other reason apart than to fit within a cloister. Even a queen would only be permitted to wear it down unless the need to wear a crown should arise.
Women were made to wear sleeves that covered the wrists even in the hottest of weather. It is believed this is where the lyrics for green sleeves originated from. It was Henry VIII who wrote the verse whilst courting Anne Boleyn.
A common cause of death among Tudor women was their clothing. The large frame we see in Tudor dresses would often lead to the women being set alight by a rogue spark from the fireplace. Fire would quickly engulf the woman with no means of escape. Corsets were worn made of leather or even wood. These would flatten the breasts. The tight lingerie would also lead to fatal consequences such as constriction. This compressed the lungs and led to the women dying in pure agony!
So on second thoughts, maybe the Tudor life is not for me? I am strangely fond of my rights, freedom and health. This way of life benefits none of these. I must congratulate these women for surviving at all….. Ode Tu-dor Women I say!