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Eleanor Janega

Bather in the Woods (detail), Camille Pissarro, 1895. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A history of the clean body is also a history of societal expectation, technological innovation, class, privacy and spare time.

Detail from A Brothel Converted to  a Convent by Jan Milíč  of Kroměříž’, from the Slav Epic, by Alphonse Marie Mucha, 1916.

The modern belief that the Middle Ages was a time of ignorance and superstition means that we often end up believing fantastic stories, too, as the tale of a Czech preacher and his emperor demonstrates.