The History of the Toilet
While starting my second novel, which is an historical fiction based in the 15th Century, it became quite evident that there would be quite a bit of research involved. I had already realized that since I will be featuring quite a few actual historical figures, it was important to be as authentic as possible. But the thing I had initially overlooked were the minor details.
The book begins with my main character waking up in an unfamiliar room. And what does most everyone have to do immediately after waking up? They have to go to the bathroom! So what was a bathroom called in the 15th century? Nothing! Bathrooms even close to the modern sense of the word were not invented until the 20th century. Amazing! At least to me.
They went in “chamber pots” that were emptied later, some in the middle of the street! What I found more fascinating was the lack of a need for privacy during this process. Many nobility actually took visitors while sitting on the pot.
In one such instance, King Henry III of France was lodged with his army at St Cloud when a friar was granted access to deliver important papers to the king. Henry invited the friar in while he was doing his business. The King’s attendants stepped back to give privacy, not because he was sitting on the pot, but because of the message that was to be delivered. The friar handed him false papers, whispered in his ear, then stabbed him to death before he could pull his pants up!
Somehow I now have comfort in the fact that we have doors with locks!