Friday, June 24, 2016

How to Swim, 1587

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 “The times which the temperature of this our climate affords as good to swimme in, is comprehended in foure monethes, May, Iune, Iuly, and August... thence commeth a more vehement heate, which dooth temperate the water, and make wholesome the ayre... In the place is two things especially to be respected, first, that the bancks bee not ouergrowen with ranck thicke grasse, where oft-times, doe lie and lurke many stinging Serpents, and poisoned Toades: not full of thornes, bryers, stubbes, or thistles, which may offend the bare feete... Next that the water it selfe bee cleare, not troubled with any kinde of slymie filth, which is very infectious to the skin... Also that there be not in the bottome of the Riuer any olde stakes or sharpe stones, which may greatly indaunger the Swimmer... let him associate himselfe with some one that is taller and stronger then himself, which may both comfort him, and helpe to sustaine him, for that at the first enterance, the chilnes of the water will greatly discomfort him.” 
Everard Digby, A Short Introduction for to Learne to Swimme
 A few rules for summer swimming fun: avoid poisoned toads, and don't forget to bring a muscular friend to comfort you in case the water is cold.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to Have a Healthy Summer, 1656

June calendar page, 16th c.
J. Paul Getty Museum, MS Ludwig IX 16, f. 6r
 "The regiment for the time of Summer, June, July, and August. The shepheards in summer been clothed with light gowns and single, their shirts and sheets that they ly in be linnen, for of all cloath it is the coldest... and they eat light meats, as Chickens with veriuyce, young Hares, Rabbets, Lettise, Purselain, Melons, Gowrds, Cucumbers, Peares, Plumbs... They drink oft fresh water when they be thirsty, save only at dinner and supper time, and then they do drink feebl green Wine, single Beer, or small Ale. Also they keep them from over great travell, or over forcing themselves, for in this time is nothing grievouser than chafing. In this season they eschue the company of women, and they bathe them oft in cold water to asswage the heat of their bodies enforced by labours. Alway they have with them sugarcandy or other Sugar whereof they take little and often." 
The Shepheards Kalender
Ah, summer: season of cool linen, refreshing vegetables, and &#$*% chafing.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Lose Weight, c. 1330


Tacuinum sanitatis, Biblioteca Casanatense 4182 (14th c.)
“They should eat foods of little nourishment, great bulk, and quick digestion, and often bathe before they eat… they should eat many vegetables with sharp vinegar dressings… they should exercise frequently and swiftly before eating, and tolerate hunger. They should accustom themselves to eating once a day and sleeping less, and they should drink old and fine wine…. sleeping little and in a hard bed, frequent sex, and spending time in the sun and in warm houses all make a fat body become slender.” 
Maino de' Mainieri, Regimen sanitatis
Your medieval summer weight-loss plan: sunbathing, sex, and... salad.

Friday, May 6, 2016

How to Dye Your Hair Blonde, 1650

Nicolas Arnoult, Recueil des modes de la cour de France (1687), LACMA
"How to make ones haire to become of a yellow Golden Colour. Take the rinde, or outward parings of Rhubarbe, and put them to steep in Whitewine, or clear Lye; wet a spunge or linnen cloth therein, and  anoint your haire therewith, and let them dry before the fire or sunne; the oftener you do this the sooner they will become yellow: note that before you use this, it is good to clear your head and hair from sweat, and all other filth whatsoever." 
A Brief Collection of Many Rare Secrets
Your new summer hair look: golden color, rhubarb flavor, and no filth whatsoever.

Friday, April 22, 2016

How to Stop Sneezing, 1680

Allegories of the Senses (1561), Wellcome Library
"To stay the sneezing scratch the Soles of the Feet and Palms of the Hands; rub the Eyes and Ears; smell to white Lilly, and Bath your hands in warm Water... The Phlegm that runs from the Nose like Snot is stay'd by proper Remedies for the Cure of the Brain, whereby the Spring of such Noisome Humors is dryed... use some proper Syrup to correct the ill scent of the Snot's abundance." 
The Country-Mans Physician
Allergy season self-care: foot-scratching, hand-washing, fragrant lilies, and getting rid of the #*$&@ brain snot.

Friday, April 8, 2016

How to Use Asparagus, 1568

John Gerard, The Herball (1636)

"Asparagus cooked with wine alleviates pain of the loins and kidneys, provokes urine, loosens the stomach, and frees the liver and kidneys from attacks, especially the roots and seeds. But if asparagus is used too much, it brings great harm, since it expels urine quickly, and irritates the bladder, which is bad. It is believed to incite lust… asparagus is a helpful food for a man, especially a newlywed having trouble in bed with an eager spouse: if at first he is unable to please his wife, this will allow him finally to have a sweet and loving partnership." 
Hugo Fridaevallis, De tuenda sanitate 
Ah, springtime, the season of love: the birds, the bees, the newlyweds gobbling asparagus...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How to Use Dry Shampoo, 12th century

Luttrell Psalter, British Library Add. MS 42130, f. 63r (1325-40)
"When she combs her hair, let her have this powder. Take some dried roses, clove, nutmeg, watercress, and galangal. Let all these, powdered, be mixed with rose water. With this water let her sprinkle her hair and comb it with a comb dipped in this same water so that [her hair] will smell better. And let her make furrows in her hair and sprinkle on the above-mentioned powder, and it will smell marvelously." 
The Trotula
Running late for work? No problem – just grab a comb, raid your spice cabinet on the way out the door, and you'll be fresh and sweet as a medieval noblewoman.