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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old November 25th, 2017, 04:52 AM   #1

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How did women in the Middle Ages deal with their menstrual cycles?


What did they do about the blood? Did they even wear underwear? Did they wash more when they had their cycles?
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Old November 25th, 2017, 10:36 AM   #2

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they used twine, rags, possibly leave bundles, and old cloth.

people did wear undergarments, even peasants/serfs, but then not many had the ability to wash regularly, Even kings only had baths once a week at best. for peasants, it was once per year, though they say Norsemen bathed about once a week. maybe this is why the Norse lost battles in the end to the Anglo-Saxons and Franks, they couldn't handle the stench in the end.
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Old November 25th, 2017, 11:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
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What did they do about the blood?
Obviously they cleaned themselves up.
Quote:
Did they even wear underwear?
Not in our sense. Women wore a linen or lawn shirt/chemise. This would of been stained and washed to dry. Lawn was worn only by the rich it was either fine linen or cotton. Their outer garment was a coat made of wool. liquids run off wool so it would not absorb stains.

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Did they wash more when they had their cycles?
It's myth that they rarely bathed. Roman baths did not disappear with the Roman empire. In addition to them they washed themselves in the morning before dressing. Both sexes wore night shirts not too different from the ones Scrooge wears in the old black and white versions of the Christmas Tale. In the cause of the rich this could be rose water so would both clean and perfume their skin. The first thing any guest or returning family member did when arriving at a hall was wash their hands and faces at the lavers.
Since they had no tampons cleaning themselves up after bleeding was something they certainly would of done. Consider what modern tampons smell like, they would of smelled like that if they did not clean themselves.
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Old November 25th, 2017, 11:38 AM   #4

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they used twine, rags, possibly leave bundles, and old cloth.

people did wear undergarments, even peasants/serfs, but then not many had the ability to wash regularly, Even kings only had baths once a week at best. for peasants, it was once per year, though they say Norsemen bathed about once a week. maybe this is why the Norse lost battles in the end to the Anglo-Saxons and Franks, they couldn't handle the stench in the end.
While they may have only bathed a few times a years wiping yourself down with a wet cloth daily was common practice.

Last edited by redcoat; November 25th, 2017 at 11:42 AM.
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Old November 25th, 2017, 12:09 PM   #5

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Obviously they cleaned themselves up.

Not in our sense. Women wore a linen or lawn shirt/chemise. This would of been stained and washed to dry. Lawn was worn only by the rich it was either fine linen or cotton. Their outer garment was a coat made of wool. liquids run off wool so it would not absorb stains.
The proper grammatical usage would be, "This would HAVE been stained and washed to dry."

Just something to keep in mind.

Last edited by Jake10; November 25th, 2017 at 12:26 PM.
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Old November 25th, 2017, 12:51 PM   #6
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The proper grammatical usage would be, "This would HAVE been stained and washed to dry."

Just something to keep in mind.
Good point.
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Old November 25th, 2017, 01:29 PM   #7

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No, women were rarely likely to wear underwear before the 16thC and then only the affluent.** The first literary mention is in the late 16thC and then spoke of in criticism referring to Italian courtesans wearing "drawers".

Even when finally adopted women's undergarments were open-crotched to facilitate calls of nature (imagine those ladies at Louis XIVs court trying to get their knickers off in a hurry in those hooped and whaleboned dresses. Gusseted "underpants" did not appear for adults until the late Edwardian period.
As for feminine hygiene, the Old Testament refers to "foul rags"--so that was one method---the enchanting Lucy Worseley, in one of her V&A documentaries covered this with solutions from Roman times, including chamois leather belts, loincloths that could hold towelling "pads" and waht were essentially nappies (diapers) similar to the swaddling worn by babies.


**One reason why women did not ride horses astride bareback.
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Old November 29th, 2017, 03:30 AM   #8

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What remarkable spheres of interest we do cover.
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Old November 29th, 2017, 03:59 AM   #9

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What remarkable spheres of interest we do cover.
If you're not interested in the topic, why join the discussion?
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Old November 29th, 2017, 06:28 AM   #10

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Sphagnum


I remember I read something about once. In Italian lands in Middle Ages women were used to saw some kind of shorts with cotton in. But I have to check this.

I'm more sure about the Sphagnum, which was an absorbent moss [anyway they needed to saw a kind of shorts to keep the Sphagnum there].

These systems weren't exceptional ... so that, wealthy women had several red cloths in their wardrobe ... for the spots ...
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