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In terms of the healthiness of medieval towns, in some ways they were not too bad, but in others they were dreadful.

Medieval people were very clean, because they believed the condition of a person's body was a reflection of the condition of that person's soul. They did not like to be exposed to a lot of dirt, so, for example, they tried to keep their feet and hems clean, so they liked to have cleaner streets than many modern people might suppose. The cities and towns of many places, and even some villages, had baths where they could clean up.

But they did not have even a small clue about the actual causes of disease. They had no idea that germs could cause illness. And so, for example, out of politeness and a desire to show Christian charity and a spirit of sharing, they used common drinking cups and spoons at the table. For another example, they knew they liked water to taste good, but they did not know a person could get sick from water that tasted good if it had been exposed to people who were sick.

The Black Plague happened because there were too many people, too many rats, and too many fleas all living in close proximity. They regarded the rats as a nuisance because they destroyed things, and the fleas as a nuisance because they bit. But they never thought of the rats and fleas as vectors of disease, so they treated the plague in the best way they knew how, in such ways as making sure they filtered the bad smells out of the air, or by doing penance for their sins.

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Q: How healthy were medieval towns?
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