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The Ancient and Renaissance History of Beds

The Ancient and Renaissance History of Beds

The history of beds and bedding is as old as the evolution of man itself. Because as long as human beings have been around they have looked for a comfortable place to rest their heads.

The Ancient History of Beds

Modern human’s first beds consisted of nothing more than piles of grass, leaves or other natural materials. But it was not until roughly between 3200 BC and 2200 BC in parts of Europe that the first “big step” in the evolution of modern beds took place with the introduction of the first raised beds. This helped to avoid drafts, dirt, rodents and bugs and made the beds healthier to use and helped with the prevention of diseases.

Did you know?The original raised beds were made of stone and topped with comfortable natural fibers such as leaves, straw, grass, fur and wool. There are still preserved examples of these types of beds found in Scotland.

The ancient Egyptians were well known for their large bedsteads which were more often than not ascended by steps and had large amounts of pillows, drapes and curtains on and around it. The wealthiest Egyptians were even the first to introduce wooden beds, with the pharaohs and queens of Egypt often sleeping on large ornate wooden beds that were gilded with gold.

The Medieval History of Beds in Europe

During the early part of the Middle Ages people would lay carpets on the floor or on a slightly raised bench and place early mattresses made of fabric stuffed with wool or hair on top of them. This type of bed developed over time and in the 13th century had evolved into a bed that began to resemble the modern beds we see today. These beds were generally made of wood and included decorations of carved, inlaid and painted ornamentation. These beds were often covered by pillows which were used to raise a person’s body to a sloping sleeping position. By the 14th century bed ornamentation became such an integral part of bed design that they were often covered by hangings of rich materials such as silk, velvet and gold cloth. It was also during this time that the first feather mattresses were used on beds in Europe. From this point on until the 17th century beds increased in size and opulence.

The Renaissance History of Beds in Europe

From the 17th century onwards the development of beds and bed styles evolved in leaps and bounds. In fact the start of this period is often referred to as the century of magnificent beds. It was during this time that beds became such a large and important part of European culture that portable beds were introduced. These were especially popular with the French aristocracy and a portable bed was even used by the French King when visiting parliament.

Did you know?One of the greatest French beds ever built was kept at the Palace of Versailles and was covered is so much gold that its velvet covering could hardly be seen.