Marie Antoinette Online Forum

How did they sleep?
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Author:  ines [ Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:33 am ]
Post subject:  How did they sleep?

several years ago,i had a trip to Schloss Schönbrunn with a tour group.
when we saw Emperor Napoleon I's bed,it was too short in size for normal people to sleep,
so one of our members asked"how did Napoleon sleep "
at this moment,i smiled,coz i thought that everyone know Napoleon was not tall,so
the bed was suitable for him
suddendly,our tour guide said"people in that era sat to sleep"
i was astonished,coz it was so uncomfortable for ones to sleep!!
afterwards,i thought if our tour guide was right,it might be some reasons
it's my opinion(i guess)
although the era Napoleon lives was at the beginning of 19th century,
it is quite closing 18th century,aristocrat,especially female,wears tall wig and
decornated with feather, is so splendid but not possible to
wash them everyday,(i read somewhere says,it's hard to wash theirs everyday,so sometimes
some insects or fly are around theirs hair )so,to maintain their hairdo perfect next day,
perhaps,they should sit to sleep.
could anyone know how aristocrat in 18th century sleep?

by the way,according to MA's hairdo,i prefer early style
( ... mage_id=16)
than later
( ... image_id=6)
however,doubtlessly,MA is always brilliant!

Author:  Arianna [ Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:43 am ]
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I think I have read somewhere that they sit to sleep, especially women, because they have got problems with their hair :) And when they got those hairstyles, they kept it about month I think, because they cost a lot.

Author:  Merteuil [ Mon Jan 22, 2007 5:27 pm ]
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I have a little amusing story to share about adapting one's sleeping arrengements to one's hairdo:

Not so long ago, in 1969, my mother had an amazing beehive done at the hairdresser's. My father - then her boyfriend - was taking her to a party the following evening. He found her very spaced out when he collected her: she confessed to having had nearly no sleep because she'd sat up in bed all night long to make sure the precious beehive would still look perfect for the party.
I must say that she looked fabulous on the pictures taken later on that evening.

That story proves that you don't have to go back very far in history to find people sitting in bed for the sake of a great hairstyle ;)

Author:  Louis XVI [ Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:00 am ]
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Very amusing Merteuil :lol:

I remember hearing that mice used to bed in the wigs aswell. Although ines, I'm not sure if your tourguide gave you the correct answer. Beds in the 18th-19th century were much smaller because the people were much shorter/petit (not just Napoleon!) I'm sure some women did sit up to sleep for their hair-do's but not every night! That would be most uncomfortable! :o

Author:  Marie-Antoinette [ Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:21 pm ]
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wow....I would go mad if I had to sleep like that. :lol:

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:13 am ]
Post subject: 

I agree with you, Louis, people in XVIIIth century were smaller than nowadays.

Author:  Louis-Charles [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:29 pm ]
Post subject: 

Marie-Antoinette was described like a tall person, whereas she measured approximately 1m70. :wink:

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

It depends from the sources, Chou. They mention from 1,61 to 1,75. However, these are our nowadays approximations, for we have no actual measures. Ocular witnesses describe her as "of medium height" to "tall". Considering the fact that XVIIIth women did not exceed 1,50, I am tempted to think that Marie Antoinette, following our today criters, would seem to us of medium height.

If these shoes that were found actually were Antoinette's she could not be very tall, indeed... :wink:

Author:  Louis-Charles [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:40 pm ]
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You're right Pim, her real size is only one approximation… but she was not among small people it is sure :D
1m75 seems to me too high....

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:02 pm ]
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Indeed... I think we should reconsider our approximations taking into account how tall people actually were in XVIIIth century.

Author:  Merteuil [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:55 pm ]
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Pimprenelle...this site "follie du XVIIIeme" mentions that Louis XVI would have been....1.93m tall???
That sounds impossible....1.93m is very tall even by today's standards. What do people actually use to estimate how tall the King or Queen were?I don't expect any garments to have survived the destructive insanity of the Revolution, so, apart from the very vague comments of the time (such as "she was of medium height"), what do we have?

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:40 pm ]
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I really wonder about the king too, Marquise... The information comes from Paul and Pierrette Girault de Coursac, I think... But I am dubious too.

We have shoes that once belonged to Marie Antoinette, they say... and they are so tiny that they look like Cindrella's !

Author:  Louis XVI [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 10:21 pm ]
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I am sorry I was wrong! :(

I did some research online, and I found something that confirmed that people actually did sleep 'sitting up', or 'propped up' with pillows! That explains why the beds were so short, 5 feet usually (1.5 meters), because people were probably much shorter and they sat up in bed! :D

Author:  Jess452 [ Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:24 pm ]
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hey guys, I'm new to this board. But alot of what has been said is based on myths and stories rather then facts. First, people in the 1700s were on average only an inch shorter then they are today. They didnt sleep sitting up at a 90 degree angle, they just used more pillows and slept at more of an angle. One of the main reasons was because of health. With lots of mold and smoke from the candles and fires, not to mention the thousands of pets at the palace and feathers or straw in the beds, people had lots of alergies. Sleeping that way made it easer to breath. If youve ever been sick, you know that. Also, mice are shy and are not going to willingly get that close to a person. I work at a living history museum and i get asked about this stuff all the time. The beds look shorter, but if you lay on it, there is not much of a difference.

Author:  Pimprenelle [ Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:48 pm ]
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Hello ! This discussion about XVIIIth century people's heights was not based on myths, but on serious researchs. If you read Franch, you can find interesting articles here :

I am just back from a visit at Trianon. Marie Antoinette's bed is very short, indeed... even if sitting on for sleeping ! :wink:

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