10 Truly Disgusting Facts About Life In Medieval England

Doctors Would Pee On Your Wounds

If a medieval soldier was wounded in battle, he didn’t have to worry. They had doctors on hand who were ready to sterilize the wound. They didn’t even need to pack anything to do it. As soon as someone got cut, a doctor—following the recommendations of the king’s personal surgeon—would whip out his tool and pee on your wound.[3]

They didn’t stop at cuts, either. Fresh urine was used to treat sores, burns, bites, and pretty well anything you could think of. It was gross, but it actually worked. The ammonia in the urine would help keep cuts from getting infected, and in life-or-death situations, the indignity was worth it.

It wasn’t just British doctors peeing on open wounds, either. One of the craziest stories comes from an Italian physician, Leonardo Fioravanti, who used his urine to save a soldier’s life after his nose was cut off in a fight. Fioravanti, thinking quickly, picked the man’s severed nose up off the ground, dusted off some sand, and peed on it.

The doctor, incredibly, was able to sew and reattach the urine-soaked nose back onto the man’s face. And for the rest of his life, the man could smell through that nose—whether he wanted to or not.

People Thought Bathing Made Them Sick

For most of the medieval era, the people were actually pretty good about bathing. They went to public baths regularly and did a fairly good job at cleaning themselves—for a while, anyway.

All that changed, though, after the Black Plague hit. In the chaos of seeing two-thirds of the world die from disease, the people of Europe started panicking. They wanted to find anything they could to blame this on, and they picked bathing.

The plague had spread, some doctors declared, because people were washing too often. They told people that water weakened their bodies and widened their pores, leaving them susceptible to plagues and diseases, and started ordering people to stop all forms of bathing immediately.[4] “By no means,” one doctor warned his patients, “should you wash your face.”

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