Are hairdressers spoiled by sweat

From bathroom to hairdresser

From bathroom to hairdresser

After the fall of the Roman Empire (approx. 476 AD) and the relentless campaign of the Christian church against the ancient bathing culture, the decline of public bathing gradually began. It was only with the formation of a medieval urban system in the 12th century, the knowledge and experiences of the crusaders in the oriental bathhouses (hamam) and the rise of the bourgeoisie, that an urban culture and thus a new bathing system developed. Public bathing rooms emerged again, which quickly developed into centers of medieval sociability.

Bathing was one of the greatest pleasures that people in the Middle Ages could enjoy. But very few could afford their own bathroom, so public baths were set up. Not only was personal hygiene carried out and cured here, it was also a place of fun, and so the hustle and bustle in the bathhouses was sometimes on the fringes of society.
After the ancient bathing culture had perished with the Roman Empire, a “Balnearius” was mentioned in the “Lex baiovariorum” in the 6th century. Bathing rooms in Central Europe have been consistently occupied since the 12th century. Every larger settlement had at least one public bathhouse.
Public bathing rooms were an indispensable facility. The heavy clothing, the lack of underwear, the primitive living conditions and the spread of vermin contributed significantly to the fact that bathing rooms were not only found in larger cities, but also in small parish villages, such as in the Schwand market since 1490.

Furthermore, in the Middle Ages one sought not only to cleanse the soul of sins in confession, but also to appear before God with a clean body every time he went to communion.
So you took a warm bath beforehand. This custom continued in the Protestant church until the 19th century.

And if in the following years there was no bathing before the service, the bather at least had to cut his beard and hair.
So people bathed before important occasions and holidays, but sometimes also during the week. There was also a requirement to bathe in hot water when returning from a major trip to avoid bringing in any communicable diseases.
For this, the chapter on Schwand's bathhouse in: "One night in Swant"

In the bath room

The bathing rooms initially only served to cleanse the body, but soon developed into communication and communication Amusement places (approx. 13th - 14th centuries). People met there to exchange ideas. But people also ate, drank and made music. Depending on the size of the tub, two or up to fifteen people of both sexes were bathed in large tubs. The water was heated in a wood-fired annealing furnace, which also provided hot steam, similar to today's steam bath. In addition, the medieval bathing rooms also served to promote health. For example, herbs and fragrant essences were added to the water for the treatment of skin diseases. (See the memorial cross of the Badersfrau in Leerstetten, "who traded in juniper oil").

The use of leeches was just as much a part of the offer as ointments for headache and toothache, and even small surgical interventions were carried out here. The needs of bathers for culinary and alcoholic pleasures, amorous adventures and games of chance soon called the church on the scene, which thereupon issued a ban on bathing men and women together (approx. 15th century).
Saturday was a traditional bathing day, in addition to which the bathers usually had permission to stoke their stoves on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Most of them were only wearing a bath shirt or shorts on the way to the bathroom. What was needed was carried in the bath bag, an utensil that the bride usually gave to her future husband at the wedding.
Everything else was left at home for fear of theft, although a bath attendant looked after the clothes in the changing room, the “pull-out room”. After the bathers had undressed and put on the obligatory straw bathing hat, the bather or one of his assistants appeared. They were also only lightly dressed, with a kind of apron, the “pretend”. Warm water, scraping and rubbing was done in the prebath The coarsest dirt removed, then it went into the sweat bath. It was really hot here: pebbles were piled up and heated, over which water was then poured. The guests sat on wooden benches of different heights, depending on how much they wanted to sweat. Leafy branches, often mixed with herbs, hit the guests' bodies to stimulate sweating even more. Sweating should expel the harmful body fluids and above all protect against the dreaded leprosy.

who could afford it, had an additional massage. After the sweat bath, you went to the water bath, which was, however, significantly more expensive than the steam bath - a pleasure that not everyone could afford.

A single bathhouse used several hundred solid cubic meters of wood a year.

There were also “lakeside baths”: pious foundations that made it possible for poor people to visit a bathhouse. Instead of paying the “Badepfennig”, they had to pray for the salvation of the founder.

How widespread bathing was is also shown by the fact that the craftsmen did not receive tips, but bath money. Some trades also had the right to the bathroom shift: They were allowed to quit work early on Saturday to go to the bathroom - at the expense of the master.

For the church, bathing was a nuisance: men and women together in a tub - truly scandalous! The citizens, however, did not let their bathing fun be spoiled: In exuberant company, they enjoyed the cozy warmth as often as possible, at best wearing a “bathing” light. For the men it was a slip-like apron, for the women a light apron that was tied around the neck and left the back free.
Even if the municipal authorities and the church tried to limit excesses of the bathing industry: Im Bathhouse was joked, told, drank and ate - not only what the bather's kitchen brought, but also what was brought from home. The bathers and his employees pampered the guests: bath maids and strong bath attendants served and massaged in and around the tubs, provided entertainment and assisted the bathers with his treatments. This included shaving, cutting and washing your hair and beard, or “draining your veins”, the bathers' favorite pastime. For them, cupping was the main source of income. The more cupping heads, the more expensive - people were literally “cupped”. But according to the medical understanding of that time, it was something like a kind of physical cleansing, the liberation of the body from spoiled juices and body fumes.

The church father Augustine had written that one bath per month was just compatible with the Christian faith from the point of view of asceticism. But in our part of the world priests, monks and nuns were forbidden to enter public baths.

The people of the Middle Ages bathed anyway, again and again and sometimes for hours. Many doctors therefore recommended taking rest breaks. For this purpose, some bathhouses also had relaxation rooms with beds. Resourceful bathers used these rooms for an additional "side income": They operated as pimps or allowed their bath maids to be paid for love services.

The end of the medieval bathhouses

With the end of the Middle Ages, the decline of the public bathhouses began. Ever stricter regulations, the influence of the Reformation with its new understanding of morality and, last but not least, syphilis led to the fact that, towards the end of the 16th century, there was almost no public bathhouse in German-speaking countries.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the plague and other epidemics such as syphilis and cholera spread to medieval towns. Bathing with several people was avoided and the idea spread that water is fundamentally a health hazard for the body.
In addition, the opinion prevailed among doctors that bathing was not only superfluous, but even dangerous.
A medical treatise on this from the mid-17th century:
“Water penetrates the body, mixes with the body fluids and thus leads to diseases.
Except for urgent medical reasons, bathing is not only superfluous, but also very harmful to people.
Bathing has a destructive effect on the body and, through the penetrating water, makes it susceptible to the effects of the bad properties of the air.
Bathing fills the head with vapors, is an enemy of nerves and tendons, it kills the fruit in the womb of the mother. "

The new job of the bathers
The bathers had to close their bathing rooms. The public's sense of morality clashed with the hustle and bustle, and competition from doctors also increased. The medical graduates saw only semi-educated amateurs in the baths, although they too had a solid education: six years of learning and hiking, followed by an expensive examination.
Since the "doctors" shied away from contact with blood, the bathers were left with the "minor surgery", that is, caring for wounds or setting up fractures. A bathing room was also an emergency room and ensured basic medical care: bathers were obliged to at least provide first aid to everyone. For this reason, the bathhouses also had a special legal status: like churches and cemeteries, they had the right of “Freyung”. People who had fled to their area were not allowed to be persecuted.
In addition, there were rising wood prices and the fear of syphilis. Most of the bathing rooms got in Existential need. The rich set up baths in their homes, the poor discovered rivers and lakes as "wild baths".

The last bathhouses were still popular: In 1607 the residents of the “Irrerbad” at Nuremberg's Weinmarkt fought for the preservation of their “aignen badstübleins”: “The bath would not only be indispensable for the neighbors, the carters were also dependent on it. In addition, the warm water from the bathroom flowed down the alleys. In winter you had such an ice-free road. The fact that the alley sometimes looked as if it was “fighting back” didn't really matter. Apparently this bad guy also made a lot of money by "bleeding his customers!"

Instead of the previously common personal hygiene, new practices emerged. The body was rubbed dry, perfumed and powdered and only partial washes, e.g. of the face, hands and possibly even the feet, were practiced. Bathing fun was forgotten for almost two centuries.

The bathing trade also included medical tasks. For a long time there were only doctors and pharmacists who studied in the big cities, such as Nuremberg, Augsburg and Regensburg. From around 1600 doctors are accepted in Schwabach and Roth, in Markt Schwanstetten only in the 80s of the last century.
It was the bather's duty to "shear, force (massage), rub, cup" to prove useful or to give the sick sweat cures on the sweat banks.

Bader as a "country doctor" for the common people

The Bader was an important man at this time, especially for the rural population. Medical care only improved noticeably in the 19th century. Since the middle of the 18th century, medical science gradually took up the fight against "quack and the like". About a hundred years later, health care finally passed to the country doctors.

However, it was still some time before quackery came to an end. The "Medical Topography and Ethnography", which the medical officers had to create for their district courts in 1861, tells us about amulets. These were pendants that were supposed to give their wearers protection and strength. They were worn around the neck or in them Clothes sewn in to ward off diseases. In the 19th century, the farmers in the Schwabach-Rother area knew swallow nests as a remedy for diphtheria, the juice of squeezed horse manure against colic, dog fat against tuberculosis and roasted and then powdered mole heads against bed wetting (see also : Elisabeth Engelhardt: A farmer's year).

In contrast to the barber, who often did something very similar, but was not tied to his shear room, the barber was formerly only allowed to practice in the bath room. But slowly this profession developed more and more into a kind of rural people's doctor, second class, in the absence of the old localities. And if he was skilful, he would be unpleasant competition for the trained surgeons. The bath treated fractures and dislocations, healed wounds and ulcers, pulled teeth and splinted the broken limbs. He places cupping heads and bloodletting, he inspects lepers and the slain and tends to the corpses.

However, there were as yet no schools for their training; they learn their jobs from one another like a craft. The better among them soon called themselves "Chyrurgus" (from the Greek = handicraft) and through constant detailed work they improved their reputation. (see the article about the Bader as "outcasts")

Source and literature:
G history, 2/2008 - In the bathroom
Elmar M. Lorey: The Bader Profession
Emil Wachter: Excerpt from “100 Years of the Schwabach District”
Schwanstetten in March 2017
Alfred J. Koehler