Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home
Death was frequent in the Tudor period, however the home proved to be a dangerous place. Suzannah Lipscomb explores the hidden killers of the Tudor Home.
Towards the end of the Tudor period, the middle class had money and they spent it on their homes. They built new kinds of houses. The first hidden killer of the home came through the kitchen: sugar. With trade and colonization new foods were introduced to the Tudor diet and sugar was one of these new dietary items. Food was a way the Tudors displayed their wealth. Sugar was white gold and they disguised it as normal every day food. There was consequences to their sugar addiction: it ruined their teeth. The archeological record shows how it ruined their teeth: they lost their teeth, it causes decay, and there were infections that eventually killed the person.
Chimneys also killed people as they did not realize that they needed to clean them nor design them to draw the smoke up to them. Chimneys allowed builders to divide the house into rooms, rather than living in a great hall, people could live in individual rooms. However, due to build up in the chimney, the smoke could catch fire and then eventually catch the house on fire. Houses started being built from brick and chimneys were redesigned to allow the smoke to be drawn out and not build up soot in the chimney. They also discovered that they had to clean their chimneys.
With digitized records, Suzannah was also able to note that one of the biggest causes of death was drowning. A corner's report documented the case of a woman, who fell into a pond while washing a petticoat, drowned. There were many instances of people just slipping and falling into the water and drowning. She demonstrates this cause of death by dawning period clothes and walking into a shallow pond. Her reaction to getting into the water is immediate and she had a hard time getting out of the pond due to her woolen clothes. A participant in the documentary shares that when you first hit the cold water, you gasp from the cold and take in water. To avoid this cause of death, water courses were fenced off and there were covers on wells.
The Tudor Garden was also a hidden killer of the home. It was a source of medicine for the family. There was a body of knowledge available to the Tudor Housewife and she would use that to help heal her family. However, there were plants in the garden that would kill. It was the ultimate in free medicine for a family. 150 plants had medicinal qualities. Tansy was a mild poison, however if you constantly take it becomes toxic. They believed if the plant looked like if what it was treating it was a good plant to use. The Gutenberg Press helped spread the medical knowledge of the day. They were popular materials of the day and explored the benefits of each plant.
If you want to learn more, continue to watch the documentary.
This would be a documentary I would use for research for a class lecture. There are some science elements to this documentary as Suzannah applies the scientific method to hidden killers.
For use in the classroom: just highlight, copy and paste into a word document or a google document for use in the classroom. You can easily format these questions to your specifications. All questions should fit onto one page after formatting.
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