c.1210: Daniel of Eccles offers advice on privy use

Urbanus Magnus (‘The Civilised Man’) was written by Daniel of Eccles in the first two decades of the 1200s. Written in Latin, it contained approximately 3,000 lines of advice for the modern medieval man. Among topics explored in Urbanus Magnus are issues of protocol, personal conduct and sexual morality. It also offers advice on manners, including how to behave in church, how to conduct oneself at the dinner table and how to entertain guests of higher and lower rank. There are also information about ablutions and privy etiquette. Daniel tells readers that only the lord or host was permitted to urinate in the great hall; all others should step outside. “Clearing the bowels” should occur in “secluded places” outside, with the backside presented “into the wind”. Daniel also provided advice to those attending the king or lord at his privy:

“Go before [him] carrying sufficient light. When your lord enters his inner chamber, check that the privy is free of soil. When he sits on the privy, take in your hands hay or straw. Take up two large clumps of hay in your fingers; press them tightly together. Give them to your patron as he requires them. Let the wads be given to him [as you] stand, not on bended knee.”

Also, if sharing a communal lavatory, Daniel says it is good manners to stay until your partner is also finished:

“If two together are sitting on a privy, one should not rise while the other is still emptying himself.”

Source: Daniel of Eccles, Urbanus Magnus, c.1210. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.