View Full Version : LIFE IN THE 1500'S

07-07-2005, 09:55 AM
A friend of mine sent me this & I found it very interesting:

The next time you are taking a shower and complain
because the water temperature isn't just how you like
it, think about how things used to be. Here are some
facts about the 1500s:

These are interesting...

Most people got married in June because they took
their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty
good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so
brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body
odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet
when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.
The man of the house had the privilege of the nice
clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the
women and finally the children Last of all the babies.
By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose
someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby
out with the bath water."

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with
no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals
to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals
(mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it
became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip
and off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats
and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the
house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where
bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean
bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over
the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy
beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something
other than dirt. Hence the saying "dirt poor." The
wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in
the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on
floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore
on, they added more thresh until when you opened the
door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of
wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a
"thresh hold."

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a
big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day
they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They
ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat.
They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers
in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over
the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had
been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, "Peas
porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the
pot nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel
quite special. When visitors came over, they would
hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of
wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon." They
would cut off a little to share with guests and would
all sit around and "chew the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with
high acid content caused some of the lead to leach
onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This
happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400
years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the
burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle,
and guests got the top, or "upper crust."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The
combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for
a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would
take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They
were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of
days and the family would gather around and eat and
drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence
the custom of holding a "wake."

England is small and the local folks started
running out of places to bury people. So they would
dig up coffins and would take the bones to a
"bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have
scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had
been burying people alive. So they would tie a string
on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin
and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.
Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all
night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell;
thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was
considered a "dead ringer."

Now, whoever said that History
was boring?

07-07-2005, 04:12 PM
Thanks for sharing that Gor, very intersting and comical. I wonder if there is a book that is nothing but ancedotes like those!

07-07-2005, 07:28 PM
And don't forget the Black Death, which coined the wonderful phrase "kiss your ass goodbye"!

07-07-2005, 07:29 PM
No offence Gordoom, but that article is complete rubbish from start to finish.

The etymology of words and phrases is a facinating subject, one I'd love to know the answer to is the origin of the word "boxing".

07-07-2005, 07:51 PM

It's not an article it's something my friend came up with. I don't think it's rubbish - it may not be completely accurate but I do find it facinating- & most of it makes sense.

As to boxing, perhaps it comes from that old expression where parents used to tell their kids I'm going to "box your ears off "if you don't stop. I do believe that expression has been part of the English language for a few centuries.

Have no idea whether i am correct but that's the first thing that came to mind.


07-07-2005, 08:34 PM
One of my favourite websites of all time, second now to CBZ, is snopes -- it debunks and "bunks" a lot of urban myths and inbox anecdotes -- I found this particular article was examined there as well -- here's the link:

www.snopes.com/language/phrases/1500.htm (http://www.snopes.com/language/phrases/1500.htm)

07-07-2005, 09:52 PM
Hi Gordoom,

"Boxing" certainly comes from the verb "to box", but it's the origin of that which I've never really heard a convincing argument for.

One explanation I've read more than once is that a clenched fist looks a bit like a box, but I have trouble believing this because, to me, a fist looks nothing like a box.

Other interesting boxing terms are haymaker, boxing ring (a square ring?), bantamweight, welterweight, southpaw (from baseball?), sparring, cruiserweight. I'm sure there's more but I can't think of any at the moment.

07-07-2005, 11:34 PM
Isn't cruiserweight what they called light heavies in the UK? At least through the early 70's I remember the LH's being described as cruiserweights.

I would imagine the term has a nautical background.


07-08-2005, 02:16 AM
I have a few UK boxing "programmes" from pre-1960 and there are more than a few references to LHW's as cruiserweights...

07-08-2005, 07:03 AM
I didn't realise that cruiserweight was used in Britain before around 1970, or that it ever meant what it does now, a division squashed in between light heavy and heavy. I'll take a look at the few pre-1970 boxing programs I have to see if there are any references there.

I found a nice history of the cruiserweight division here:
www.ringsidereport.com/Wilbur3152005.htm (http://www.ringsidereport.com/Wilbur3152005.htm)

I must admit, I'd missed the news that the weight limit was increased from 190 to 200 pounds a few years ago.

07-08-2005, 11:27 AM
On an old edition of Tuesday Night Fights, someone asked Sean O'Grady about the origins of "boxing" and he said it was because a fist looked like a box. I didn't find the explanation too satisfying.

Roberto Aqui
07-08-2005, 12:49 PM
Not many boxers are historians.

Giving it a shot, the earliest bareknuckled fights took place in a ring which is naturally formed by spectators at any fight organized or not. As rules were formulated, the ring was eventually made into a box, a flat bottom with 4 equally spaced corners with the ropes as sides of the box. Hence the combatants became boxers who boxed in a boxing ring and the sport became boxing.

As far as where feather and bantamweights came about, many here can attest to the cock like walks and talks of the little guys amoungst us who often reminded me of a banty rooster. Maybe early contests between the little guys reminded spectators of such cock fights where feathers would fly and banty roosters would strut around looking to attack.

It seems obvious were heavy and lightheavy designations would come in. Welter is a group, a collective, so maybe the largest group of fighters came from this average size with middle designating the weight in between the welts and heavies.

Anywhoo, I ain't passing these tidbits off as real history, just an educated guess based upon what history and word origins that I do know. My 69 Webster collegiate lists word origins of Latin, French, and Greek for box as buxis, pyxis, and pyxos.

Kid Achilles
07-12-2005, 03:30 AM
I've heard that the name for Long Johns, those thermal undergarments you might wear in the winter, come from the skintight pants that John L. Sullivan (and other boxers at the time) wore.