In seventeenth century Europe, hygiene, fashions and sexual
behavior were radically different from ours today. I’m not sure
politics has changed very much.
Europe was just emerging from the dark ages and “civilization” was
rough. It was believed at the time that bathing was unhealthy.
And, to be frank it was a lot of trouble. No, as in zero,
plumbing, Lamps were not available. It was candlelight, or
nothing. Those exceedingly fancy dresses and men’s suits were
never washed or cleaned except to brush off mud collected while
walking on unpaved streets and roads. There were no deodorants
Samuel Pepys was probably lustier than most of the men of his day
and, being sophisticated enough to exercise his intellectual
advantage, he seduced, and was seduced by, several prominent
women. Probably “many”
is more appropriate than “several.” I don’t believe he ever scored
with one of the King’s favorite mistresses, “ my Lady Castlemaine,” but he
sure wanted to. At any rate, Samuel led a very interesting life,
had an outstanding career as what became the Minister of the
British Navy, was socially prominent and had a grand time with the
Plus, although he told us
everything in his diary, he never mentioned that he took a
The estimated population of London during Pepy’s lifetime
A note about sanitation in 17 th century London. Streets
and walks were not paved. There were no municipal codes and a fine
house might be next to a slaughter house. Most houses had
chickens, pigs and a cow or two. For transportation, you either
walked, rode a horse or rode in a horse drawn conveyance. There
was no piped running water and no sewers, no trash pickup. Streets
were covered in manure, mostly horse manure but people also dumped
their trash, dishwater and household chamber pots in the street.
At the time motor vehicles were coming into use, a London Times
editorial commented that gasoline powered vehicles would save the
city from being covered in 18 feet of horse manure.
In 1959, Lord Mountbatten, the last
Viceroy of India still used chamber pots in his English
This is a most extra-ordinary document.
Samuel's last posting will bring tears into yopur eyes.