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Whenever I searched for toilets/restrooms/.... in the middle ages I only found sketches or engravings about either clerics (probably curches) or about rooms on the side of the walls of castles.

But never did I find anything about either public toilets or other toilets/restrooms that commoners / peasants used / had available to them in the middle ages.

So my question would be here: Did a commoner have any restroom/toilet facility (public or otherwise) available to him on the countryside (small towns) or large cities?

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There were latrines, aka public toilets, in the Roman era... to the extent that Vespasian set out to institute a urine tax, and public urinals still hold the latter's name today in some countries.

They continued to exist afterwards into the middle ages. There may have been times where they weren't as commonplace as they could have been, but they most assuredly existed at least in towns and cities.

When in the countryside, methinks they did the same as they do today: pee on a tree.

Besides what amounted to pots, you'd have toilets in the yard as a hut (like the e.g. so-called "shit house" in "The Hateful Eight", the type of which still exists nowadays when there's no running water) and occasionally in castles. (You can do an image search for "medieval latrines" for more pics.)

latrine in

latrine out

  • Canals and "land reclamation" during the Middle Ages is absolutely critical to understanding the rapid development of Western Europe during this epoch. The first "modern bathroom" was built at Versailles I believe...obviously not for commoners...but making sure the fresh water flowed in and up while the brown water flowed down and out put Germany in a better position than all of Europe in dealing with the all to real health issues related to standing water and a "lack of flow." France struggled well into the 20th Century with plumbing. – Doctor Zhivago Jul 18 '16 at 7:27
  • So that means that public toilets existed, but none in the houses themselves? – Thomas Jul 18 '16 at 13:24
  • besides what amounted to pots, you'd have toilets in the yard as a hut (like the e.g. so-called "shit house" in "The Hateful Eight" (which still exist nowadays when there's no running water) and occasionally in castles. You can do an image search for "medieval latrines" for more pics. – Denis de Bernardy Jul 18 '16 at 14:27
  • superb tnx will accept (btw can you add that also to the answer (as that is not clear from the answer itself)) – Thomas Jul 18 '16 at 14:39
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In towns one might see a medieval equivalent of these public urinals: enter image description here

or even: enter image description here

For some reason these very space- and time-efficient conveniences have never caught on in North America; but they are everywhere in big towns of the Netherlands.

  • 2
    As an Englishman I find this picture deeply disturbing. – TheMathemagician Nov 11 '16 at 14:23

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