The Romans took pride in their ability to wash themselves and they felt that being clean made them superior to the rest of the world. When the barbarians sacked Rome, they destroyed many things including the magnificent bath structures and the aqueducts fell into decay. When Rome fell, mankind descended into the Dark Ages a period of over one thousand years (5th – 15th century AD) of intellectual darkness, sanitation began to disappear and man lost touch with hygiene. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, bathing was replaced by the use of perfume. Dirt, filth and squalor were commonplace everywhere. The streets of mediaeval towns were foul-smelling, because in this time period they lacked closed sewers. There were no private or public conveniences, and people resorted to the custom of throwing refuse into the street, and municipal authorities failed to clean the pavements, there was no sanitary legislation or care for public health, as sanitation was a concept not understood by society. People at this time had a relaxed relationship to bodily functions, as they relieved themselves whenever it was needed and they did not seem to be concerned about privacy. They just squatted down whenever and wherever they had to relieve themselves, it was a natural and inevitable thing that everyone had to do.
At this time chamber pots also known as bedpans were an essential fact of life, because nobody had indoor plumbing, and they made it more convenient for people to relieve themselves while they were at home. These devices prevented a person from having to leave their house and walk to a nearby field or forest every time they wanted to go to the bathroom, especially in times when it was the middle of the night, or when it was raining! During the Dark Ages, it was a common practice of using and emptying chamber pots. Chamber pots were put all over the house and they were used everywhere, they could usually be found in the dining or billiard room. People just pulled the chamber pot out of the cupboard or from under the bed, and did their business. In the morning, people would carry the chamber pot out to the field and dump it out there or, if they had slaves, their job would be to empty the chamber pots. It is also told that it was widespread practice for Kings and Princes to receive guests while they were at the stool.
People threw the content of the pot (or the whole pot for that sake) out of the window and into the street. Waste was thrown out into streets or emptied directly into rivers that also served as the drinking water supply. In the cities people would dump their slop buckets out their windows, and I wonder what it must have been like walking down the street having to dodge your neighbors’ bodily wastes being thrown in your direction, but I imagine that while seeming offensive to me avoiding human waste was just a normal part of everyone’s day.