Self-explanatory. Did any royal court in history from ancient to medieval times (of any culture) have a public restroom that people who attended court can use, or were they sort of left to their own fate, and destined to leave court for a long period or make a fool out of themselves? I suspect time spent at courts were of multiple hours.


3 Answers 3


Tycho Brahe was not exactly a courtier, but he had to court the emperor who was sponsoring Tycho's research. In October 1601 he attended a banquet with the emperor (Rudolf II) and what happened was described by Kepler (I cite from Wikipedia):

Tycho suddenly contracted a bladder or kidney ailment after attending a banquet in Prague, and died eleven days later, on 24 October 1601, at the age of 54. According to Kepler's first-hand account, Tycho had refused to leave the banquet to relieve himself because it would have been a breach of etiquette. After he returned home, he was no longer able to urinate, except eventually in very small quantities and with excruciating pain.

Remark. On the other hand, Louis XIV was known for giving audiences to his courtiers while sitting on a chamber pot.

  • 8
    This is the source of the story and the important part is "The story recorded by Kepler was that Brahe was at a banquet of the King and refused to excuse himself to use the restroom. This was customary etiquette; one would not leave the banquet room while the nobleman host was still seated at the table."
    – Rsf
    Mar 8 at 15:24
  • 6
    I'm not sure "refused to leave the banquet to find a restroom" answers this question. Was the restroom mentioned provided by the court or was it some other restroom?
    – SkySpiral7
    Mar 8 at 21:54
  • 14
    This is an excellent and relevant incident — but it’s one incident, at one court, and ascribed to the specific etiquette of banquets. To answer the question, it’d surely be good to survey what else we know about other historic courts. Mar 8 at 22:50
  • 1
    Rsf You referred to the Emperor as a king. That is rather insulting to the Emperor.
    – MAGolding
    Mar 9 at 15:44
  • 5
    @MAGolding I'm sure he'll live it down.
    – Yakk
    Mar 9 at 17:05

Novels I have read that take place during the time period 1783-1815 (Roger Brook from Dennis Wheatley) mentioned that dining rooms often had a curtained off area, where a Chamber pot was situated that men would use to avoid the inconvenience of leaving the room.

Women would go to a special room to 'powder their nose' (what that term actually meant was never fully disclosed).

No mention of how servants dealt with the problem, but assume that they also had chamber pots available somewhere where people of 'quality' would not go to.


I remember going on a tour of Hampton Court in England many years ago. The docent said that as guests supped at the table, they would just open up whatever covered them and let it go right under the table everyone was eating at. These would have been male guests, presumably. I know ladies used the bour de leau (spelling?) which was shaped like a modern gravy boat and fit up under their many long skirts with the assistance of a lady's maid.

I also read (many years ago) in Nancy Mitford's book on Louis XIV that he did not like to be at all aware of anyone's biological functions (especially women's.) This made going on a long trip with him particularly difficult. I believe Mitford recounts a specific story in the book. The Sun King: Louis XIV at Versailles.

  • That sounds improbable to me; if true, it must have been back in the days of rush-covered floors. The bourdaloue for ladies came much later. Mar 20 at 13:24

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