Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Peasant nightwear
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Author:  Liza [ Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:35 am ]
Post subject:  Peasant nightwear

I have read that peasants wore either their (generally one set) of clothes to bed, or simply stripped down to their undergarments.
Can anyone confirm this please?

Author:  jimcheval [ Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peasant nightwear

I'm hard put to think of a source that would say this explicitly, but as a matter of simple logic, peasants simply didn't have much choice. Clothes used to be semi-permanent possessions (they appear in wills) and many peasants lived at bare subsistence levels, so it's not like they could afford to invest what little budget they had in something like a nightshirt.

Bear in mind that wooden shoes existed in part because that was all people could afford and mattresses might be made of fustian or straw, or even (still in the 16th c.) ... leaves.

This book (in French) takes a look at the lot of peasants and workers and points out that, while dowries for very minor bourgeoisie might mention items of clothing, those for laborers did not and listed only a few bedclothes. And maybe some sheep and a pot.

Paysans et ouvriers: depuis sept cents ans
By Georges Avenel (vicomte) ... au&f=false

He discusses the question in the 14th century, suggesting people went to bed naked (and had to be careful not to cause a fire throwing their one shirt on the candle), but is less specific on later dates: ... &q&f=false

Skipping ahead, in 1882, this writer said that some Breton peasants still wore their clothes - day and night - until they fell off:

Hygiène et maladies des paysans: Etude sur la vie matérielle des campagnards ...
By Alexandre Layet
Dans certaines localités de la Bretagne, il n'est pas rare de voir des gens qui portent, sans changement, jusqu'à usure complète, les mêmes vêtements qu'ils ne quittent même pas toujours pour se coucher. Les culottes de toile leur servent en hiver, comme en été; et on ne les lave dans aucune saison. Chez eux la saleté est constitutionnelle.

(He also describes genital disorders which occurred in both sexes as a result) ... it&f=false

Author:  Liza [ Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Peasant nightwear

Thanks so much for that helpful information, Jim..... much appreciated.

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