Medieval Mary Kay

This week Dame Aoife makes the medieval world a more glamorous place with a list of links pertaining to medieval cosmetics and perfume. Howdy Folks!

Once again I find myself imploring you all to install a virus checker and to use it regularly. Please. With Sugar on top. Aoife gets testy when she is vulnerable to attack by various Virii. I recently got one that was released in France and didn't (supposedly) hit the US for a while---except in MY mailbox, where it arrived that same day. And that is one of HUNDREDS of examples of how your infections effect MY machine. This list is the only email I send that goes that far, so PLEASE check your machine and update your virus programs.

This week's Links List is about medieval cosmetics and perfume. Something every woman holds dear to her heart. I hope you find this information interesting. If you enjoy Jadwiga's articles on Medieval Dental Hygeine and Medieval Scented Oils and Waters,please explore her other sites, which are chock full of great information on related subjects. She is a terrific person and a knowledgeable lady.

This proved to be a tough search for me (admittedly undertaken while I was down loading interminable amounts of tax forms, but that surely didn't "tax" my brain too much). So, if you have informationa long these lines, the Known World would love to see it! Please consider publishing on the web.

As always, please USE this information, and pay it forward wherever it will be welcome. If you forward it, consider cutting my email address off first. It might save me the odd virus bounce or infection.



(Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt)
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon

Making Medieval Style Scented Oils & Waters by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa
(Site Excerpt) The oldest documented 'essential oil' is probably Oil of Roses. Legends say it was first created by enfleurage, the petals being immersed in water, the oil floats to the top. Avicenna discovered how to produce it by distillation in the 10th century. This discovery (distillation, especially using alcohol) spread throughout the Arab world and slowly to Europe.

A selection of Dental hygiene and mouthwash products from a variety of medieval and Renaissance sources
(Site Excerpt) Despite modern ideas to the contrary, people in the middle ages did spend time trying to take care of their teeth and combat bad breath. This entry presents a number of period dental hygiene methods and products, with the some general comments on their production, safety and effectiveness.

Stefan's Florilegium--Perfumes
(Site Excerpt from one message) Tournaments Illuminated, issue #73, winter A.S. XIX, has an exellent article on pomanders and pouncet-boxes which includes descriptions of (and one barely OOP recipe for) exactly the kind of perfumes I described. I _think_ the CA on cosmetics also covered scents.I suggest checking with you local library for a copy of the_encyclopedia of the middle ages_. It's not perfect, but it will give you the basics on an amazing variety of topics- and they give sources.
And, Costmetics : (Site Excerpt from one message) there is a site at which might be of some use to you. It has a fair bit of info about the Elizabethan ideal of beauty, along with some period recipes, if you're game

Book Suggestion:
Scent in the Garden, by Frances Perry ISBN 086350289X

Combines a history of garden fragrance from ancient, medieval and Tudor gardens to the present day with ideas for creating scent using window boxes, water gardens and even a single plant in a pot. There are suggestions on where to grow scented plants and plants for special purposes. Webb & Bower (Publishing) London - UK Publication date: 1989-09-18

The Smell of the Middle Ages By Jacquelyn Hodson
(Site Excerpt) Medieval man possessed a deep knowledge of and a great appreciation for the fragrances of the natural world. Herbs, flowers and perfumes formed a large part of every day existence and were inextricably linked with magic and medicine. The oldest surviving English herbal manuscript is the Saxon Leech Book of Bald written about AD 900-950. Its wisdom formed the foundation of every succeeding English medical treatise.

In Pursuit of Beauty (Medieval Cosmetics, Body Adornments and tattoos)
(Site Excerpt) In life, tree twigs were used to clean the teeth - and the Anglo-Saxons may have even used the abundant southern chalk to polish their teeth, as did the Romans. Whole body bathing was certainly not a frequent occurrence amongst our Anglo-Saxon forbears, but hands, feet, and face were washed daily, and hands washed prior to eating. The prosperous enjoyed rubbing scented oils into their skin and hair, but even the poorest cottar girl could pluck aromatic flowers and herbs and release their cleansing scent by crushing them in her hands.

Musee de Grasse: International Perfume Museum: Perfume in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Perfumery in Western Europe around the 13th century
(Site Excerpt) Musk and floral perfumes were brought to northwest Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries from Arabia, through trade with the Islamic world and with the returning Crusaders. Those who traded for these were most often also involved in trade for spices and dyestuffs. There are records of the Pepperers Guild of London which go back to 1179; their activities include trade in spices, perfume ingredients and dyes. There are records from the reign of Edward I to show that spices and other aromatic exotic materials were traded in England.

Devoted to the art of body decoration with Henna
This site is copy protected, but is more of a (gorgeous) how-to than an historical site.

Colors and Scents: The Transitional Period 1300-1500 by Magistra Rosemounde of Mercia, OL and Mistress Fuiltigherne ni Ruadh O'Finnn, OL
(Site Excerpt) The following is an excerpt from a booklet on period cosmetics and perfumes prepared by Magistra Rosemounde. The period from 1300-1500 was a period of change in Europe and is sometimes referred to as the early Renaissance. The dichotomy between the sexes was still of major importance, along with the emphasis on women's stomachs, but the stylish look was to be intelligent as well as pious. The fashion was also for women to have a perpetual look of surprise. Height was desirable, and women wished to be tall and slender in appearance.

Toiletries Through the Ages
A Pictorial Survey by Emily Savino (Warning: Graphics intense but worth the wait)