Thursday, March 29, 2012

The last descendant of the Byzantine emperors in Barbados

the grave of Ferdinandus Paleologus in Barbados.

At the Barbados islands there is a grave of a person called Ferdinadus Paleologus. The Paleologus was the last dynasty that ruled Byzantium.After Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453 most of the Byzantine nobles fled either to the west or to Latin possessions in former lands of the Byzantine empire.

A member of the Paleologues called Theodoros married in 1594 in the island of Chios Eudoxia Comnenos( another name of a Byzantine imperial dynasty). They had a daughter named Theodora who in 1614 married  the prince Dimitrios Rhodocanakis in a Greek orthodox church in Napoli.

The grandson of Theodora called Demetrios Rhodocanakis migrated to London and after many efforts  he achieved to be recognised by the foreign office , the vatican and other european governments as a descendant of the Paleologues.

Let's go back to Theodoros Paleologos. He also migrated to London and married for a second time and married an English woman named Mary Balls. For many years he served as a mercenary for various English nobles.He died in January the 31rst of the year 1636 in Landulph. In 1795 his grave was opened and a corpse was found with a long white beard that reached its chest.
the crucial for the English civil war  battle of Naseby in which two of the sons of Theodoros Paleologus fought.

One of Theodoros' sons  called John fought and fell in the side of the king in the battle of Naseby during the civil war .His brother Ferdinandus also fought in the king's side and with the victory of the Parliamentarians he was self exiled to Barbados where his mother had land possessions.In 1649 he became  the head of the local church of Saint John and he died in 1678.

In 1831 a hurricane struck the Barbados church and Ferdinandus' coffin was revealed. To avoid the spread of mystery stories they opened the coffin in 1844.The body was buried upside down  with the head looking to the west and the legs to the east according to the Byzantine customs.

The current grave was built in 1909 and the inscription on it says:«Here lyeth ye body of Ferdinando Paleologus Descended from ye imperial lyne Of ye last Christian Emperors of Greece Churchwarden of this Parish 1655-1656, Vestryman, Twentye years Died Oct. 3 1678»

Here's what we read in the book  "The Strife of the Roses and Days of the Tudors in"

see also:

Imperial eagle! still with glance intent, 
Thy necks outstretched, and poising wings as yet, 
Claiming to rule o'er each vast continent,With feet upon their gateways firmly set; 
An empire's diadem hangs o'er thy brows,
 Yet rests on neither;--as if glory's aim Waited on fortune to inspire her vows,
 And ratify ambition's lofty claim;--
 But she smiled not,--death put the chaplet on Life's brave endeavour, and a hero's fate Awarded thee instead of victory won, The martyrs' halo, for the crown of state: When sank the Cross blood-stained in western sky, And in the east the Crescent flared on high.

Theodoro Paleologus appears to have married before coming to England, Eudoxia Comnena, and by her had a daughter called Theodora, born at Scio 6 July, 1594, and who was married 10 Oct., 1614, to Prince Demetrius Rhodocanakis, at the Greek church of SS. Peter and Paul, Naples. But he must have settled in England before 1600, for in that year, on May 1st, he wedded secondly at Cottingham, in the county of York, Mary, the daughter of William Balls of Hadleigh in Suffolk, gent. He appears to have sought public employment, military or civil, for among the _State Papers, Domestic_, Charles I., there is a letter from him to the Duke of Buckingham, dated Plymouth, 9 March, 1627-8, in which he thanks the Duke for the courtesy shewn him at Plymouth, and prays to be taken into his service. He further states that he is a gentleman, born of a good house, and in possession of accomplishments worthy of the name he bears, but unfortunate in the reverse of fortune experienced by his ancestors and himself; and that he has lived and shed his blood in war even from his youth, as the late Prince of Orange, and other noblemen, both English and French, have testified. He concludes by proffering himself both faithful and competent to serve the king, and ready to shew gratitude to the duke.[48] This was only eight years before his death, and when he was probably verging on old age.
[48] _Monumental Brasses of Cornwall_, by E. H. W. Dunkin.
Inheriting the military aptitude of their race, Theodoro, his eldest son, entered the service of the Parliament, as lieutenant in the regiment commanded by Lord St. John, in the army of the Earl of Essex. He was buried 3 May, 1644, in Westminster Abbey, and according to the Register of that edifice, "near the Lady St. John's tomb." But of the Lady St. John's monument, Dean Stanley says, "once in St. Michael's, now in St. Nicholas's Chapel,"--and further,--"in the Chapel of St. Andrew, close to the spot where now is the Nightingale monument, lies Theodore Paleologus."
Ferdinando chose the side of the King, and fought under Major Lower (probably a member of the Lower family of Clifton) at Naseby, 18 June, 1645, when Lower was killed, and it is supposed John Paleologus fell by his side. Ferdinando afterward emigrated to Barbados, where his maternal grandfather had an estate, and there he became proprietor of a plantation in the parish of St. John, and was for twenty years, 1649-69, surveyor of highways. He made his will in 1670, gives "_to my loving wife, Rebecca Paleologus, the one half of my plantation, and to my son Theodorus the other moiety_," to his sisters, "_Mary Paleologus and Dorothy Arundel each twenty shillings sterling_." He also names legacies of horses to Edward and Henry Walrond,--a Devonshire name, a Humphrey Walrond (query, of the Farringdon descent), being President of the island in 1660. He died about 1680, and was buried in the church of St. John's. Theodorus his son was a mariner on board the ship _Charles II._, and died at sea in 1693.
"The Greeks," says Dean Stanley, "in their War of Independence, sent to enquire whether any of the family remained, and offered, if such were the case, to equip a ship and proclaim him for their lawful sovereign. It is said that a member of the family still remains." This would relate to the descendants of Ferdinando. How strange would have been the circumstance had such an undoubted descendant been discovered, and the imperial eagle again arisen like a phoenix from the ashes of time, and strove to consolidate the shifting fortunes of this heroic and struggling people.
Maria, the elder daughter mentioned on the monument, died unmarried in 1674. Dorothy her sister became the wife of William Arundell of St. Mellion in 1657, and deceased in 1681.
Theodoro Paleologus, as the inscription informs us, died at Clifton, an old manor house in Landulph. This was originally the seat of a younger branch of the Arundells of Trerice, and built by Thomas Arundell (son of Sir Thomas Arundell by Anne Moyle) about the year 1500. From the Arundells it passed to the Killigrews, and successively to Sir Nicholas Lower and Sir Reginald Mohun, who married the daughters of Sir Henry Killigrew. Lysons describes it in his time as still existing,--"with its halls, chapel, &c., but much dilapidated, and then occupied as a farm house." It has since been wholly pulled down and rebuilt as a modern farm residence.
At the date of Paleologus' decease, Clifton was evidently in the occupation of Sir Nicholas Lower, and it is probable the imperial refugee, with such of his family as remained with him, found a home under the roof-tree of the knight. Great friendship apparently existed between the Lowers and the Paleologi, as in his will Sir Nicholas orders "_Item, I doe give unto Mrs. Maria Paleologus tenne pounds to be paied unto her within one quarter of a yeare after my decease_,"--this was the eldest daughter; two of his sons fought under Major Lower, and the father was buried in the Clifton aisle, and close by him the testator was himself afterward laid.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Natural dissasters in ancient Greece

When in 2004 the destructive earthquake of Sumatra in Indonesia created a tsunami which swept everything standing on its way along with 220.000 lives,then the linguistic senses of the media reacted automatically.

Since then once we want to describe a phenomenon which brings harsh, sad, hurtful and irreversible disasters
then we call it a tsunani even if for example the phenomenon is relevenant with harsh economic measures.

A Tsunami most frequently may be created in the Pacific but we should not forget that the biggest one in power, intensity and historical importance was the Tsunami created after the explosion of the Santorini volcano. The gigantic waves which are estimated  30 meters high were triggered by the collapse of the volcano which fell on the sea.This disaster not only affected the Minoan civilization which could never again regain its old strength but modern estimates  show that the waves reached even Israel and Egypt.

the remains of the great Minoan civilization. It never recovered after it was hit  by a tsunami
Somewhere in between  history and legend, however with the weight leaning towards the legend, we have the narration of the lost civilization of Atlantis which may have been lost by a tsunami. Only Plato refers to this civilization and makes it an example of a perfect regime.Science cannot give a definite answer as whether a tsunami destroyed Atlantis or if even Atlantis ever existed.

Many centuries later the first tsunami which is recorded in the historical times is the one in Potidaia in northern Greece in 487 BC by which the Persian fleet which was about to invade Greece was destroyed according to what Herodotus says.

One century later in 373 BC  a thousand years old city called Elice vanished in a couple of minutes. One earthquake of 7 Richter magnitude caused an instant subsidence of the ground over which the houses were founded. A giant basin was created and the city was in it. Within some minutes a tsunami came an flooded everything.Pausanias wrote than Elice the mother city of other 12 Ionian cities was destroyed suddenly by an earthquake and giant waves which had the height of tall trees.

In the 4rth century the Japanese word Tsunami was unknown but Aristotle describes specifically in his work called Meteorologica that earthquakes cause the creation of large sea waves. He also made a map showing which are the most exposed areas in a case of a Tsunami.Among these areas was Achaea, the Hellespont,Corinth and Sicily.

Thukidides is clear when he describes in his 3rd book of history that in 428 BC and while the Peloponesians had proceeded as far as Isthmus to invade Attica and Athens, some sttrong earthquakes forced them to withdraw. From these earthquakes large waves were created and hit the islands of Euboea and Skopelos.

the great earthquake that destroyed all the Cretan cities and flooded the whole island triggered waves that affected the whole Mediterranean 
Knossos, Gortyna  and many more cities of Crete were destroyed by an earthquake in 365 AD during which most of the island was flooded by water. Various sources make word about large waves reaching the Greek mainland Egypt and Dalmatia.

The 7 Richter that hit a town called Diakofto in 1402 AD created waves that proceeded 1,2 kilometres inland 
In the website of the Greek institute of geodynamics there is a full catalog about the years that tsunamis hit Greece.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trireme “Olympias” to be Displayed at 2012 London Olympic Games

the  trireme Olympias
The trireme “Olympias”, a replica of the ancient warship that helped the ancient Greeks defeat the Persians in Salamis 2,500 years ago, is to go on display in London during the 2012 Olympic Games taking place in the city this summer.
This will be the ship’s second appearance in the British capital, following an exhibition held in 1993 to celebrate 2,500 years since the birth of democracy.Afterwards, the ship will embark on a tour of the United States, organised by the company International Advantage Corporation in collaboration with the Hellenic Navy and the defence ministry.
The Navy General Staff announced said the company was carefully chosen through a lengthy evaluation process in order to ensure the necessary guarantees for such a tour.Completed in July 1987, the “Olympias” is 37 metres long and has a 1.3-metre draught. Its construction was based on plans drawn up by British naval architect John. F. Coates and historian J. S. Morrison.In the past, it has also been used in the 2004 Olympic Games torch relay to bring the Olympic Torch to Piraeus but, due to high maintenance costs, was put in dry dock on November 25, 2005 where it has remained ever since, technically as a part of the Battleship G. Averoff Naval Museum.
After appearing in London, the “Olympias” is scheduled to be transported to the United States, premiering with its arrival at historic York Town and beginning its tour in Norfolk and Jamestown, Virginia. It will also visit Annapolis in Maryland and then be the centerpiece of the US Navy’s 236th birthday celebration in Washington D.C. The final stop will be New York City, where the tour will finish with a send-off gala to be held on Veterans Day.The ship’s tour – a collaboration between America and Greece – will portray the Trireme ’Olympias’ as a symbol of democracy and freedom, one of the major contributions of the Greek people to the world.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pre 20th century Greek presence in London

map of the exploration route of Pytheas

There has been a Greek presence in London since ancient times. In the fourth century BCE, the famous navigator Pytheas left and account of a journey he had made to the island and later generations of Greeks sailed to what is now the west of England in search of tin, a rare commodity in the eastern Mediterranean.
Many Romans of the Greek speaking east served as frontier soldiers in Britain. This i proved by greek inscriptions on tombstones and tablets.

During the Roman occupation of Britain, between 43 and 410 CE, the number of these visitors probably increased and some of them found their way to London, the capital of Roman Britain.

In the Museum of London there is a charm against the plague written in Greek. It was found at 68 – 69 Upper Thames Street and probably belonged to a 4th Century CE Greek Londoner. It is inscribed on a piece of lead, which would then have been rolled up and worn around the neck on a thong. We even know his name: the last line says “Lord God, watch over Demetrius”.

Greeks in Medieval London
London also hosted Greek residents in medieval times. We know, for example, of two brothers, Andronikos and Alexios Effomatos, described in the surviving documents as 'Grekes', were recorded as living in the city in about 1440. They came from Constantinople, what is now Istanbul, but which then was the capital city of the Greek-speaking Byzantine empire.

By 1440, Constantinople was a city under siege and only thirteen years later, in May 1453, it was captured by the armies of the Ottoman Turks. It is therefore likely the Effomatos brothers had come to London to seek a more secure life than could be offered by their home city. In 1445, the king of England, Henry VI (1422-1461), granted the brothers permission to remain in London and to practice their trade of gold wire drawing. They made a costly type of thread in which thin strands of gold were intertwined with silk, and which was then used in expensive luxury fabrics and in ecclesiastical vestments, a craft for which Constantinople had been famous in its heyday.

Thanks to this royal grant, the brothers remained in London for many years. They lived first in the area of Cripplegate, much of which is now covered by the Barbican Centre, and later they moved to Broad Street, in what was then the Italian quarter of London. Andronikos, the elder, died in about 1472, but Alexios was still there in 1484, over forty years after his first arrival.

Sailors, Refugees and Coffee Makers
It was, however, only in the seventeenth century that a distinct Greek community, as opposed to isolated individuals, began to emerge. For a number of reasons, the number of Greeks reaching London began to increase. Some were refugees, fleeing the troubles which were at that time convulsing the Ottoman empire. One of them was Gregorios Argyropoulos, the owner of an estate near Thessaloniki. When a Turkish soldier was accidentally killed on Argyropoulos's land, the Ottoman authorities held him responsible and forced him to flee overseas and eventually to London in 1633. A charitable collection was made for him in London churches, and he was presented with £48 before he departed the following year.

Others were sailors. As England’s overseas trade increased, ever greater numbers of ships plied between London and the ports of the Ottoman empire. Those ships were often short of able-bodied men to crew them so their captains would enlist local Greeks to make up the numbers. At the end of the voyage, many of these individuals found themselves unceremoniously dumped on the quayside in London’s docklands and had to make do as best they could.
The coffee house named The Grecian 

Some of these new arrivals showed particular enterprise in starting up businesses selling a commodity which was then very new in London: coffee. One of them was an individual called Pasqua Rosee who set up his establishment near St Michael’s, Cornhill in 1652. A blue plaque in St Michael’s Alley now marks the site of this first London coffee house.

Another early Greek entrepreneur in London was Georgios Constantinos (d. 1728), from the island of Skopelos in the northern Sporades. Following his discharge from the British navy, Constantinos had first set up his coffee house at Wapping but by 1677 he was operating from the more prestigious surroundings of Devereux court, just off the Strand. He appropriately named his coffee house ‘The Grecian’ and it became one of the most famous gathering places in London for men of letters and science, numbering Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and other members of the Royal Society among its clientele. These days the Grecian is the Devereux public house, but the bust of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, over the doorway is dated 1676 and so would have been there in Constantinos’s day.

Building the Greek Church
As the numbers of Greeks in London increased, a movement began to press for the establishment of a Greek church. In 1674, a delegation led by a priest called Daniel Voulgaris, petitioned the Privy Council for permission 'to build a church in any part of the city of London or the libertyes there of, where they may freely exercise their religion according to the Greek church'. Although the seventeenth century was a period of acute religious intolerance, the petition was favourably received. Many Protestant clergymen of the Church of England looked favourably on the Orthodox, because they too were at odds with the Pope in Rome. A church was completed on the edge of Soho in 1681, the work led by Joseph Georgirenes, Archbishop of Samos.

Sadly this first venture was not a success. Georgirenes, presumably out of ignorance of the city, had chosen a site far removed from the riverside areas where the potential congregation actually dwelt, while a number of scandals concerning the funds collected to finance the project brought it into some disrepute. In 1682 the Greeks sold the church, which was taken over by a congregation of French Huguenots. The building survived until 1934, when it was finally pulled down. The inscription which commemorated its foundation in 1677 survived, however, and can still be seen in the cathedral of St. Sophia. A reminder of the church also survives in the name Greek Street in Soho.

After this, the Greeks of London worshipped at the Russian Orthodox chapel, originally established just off the Strand, and which later operated from sites in Burlington Gardens, Great Portland Street, and finally in Welbeck Street. Yet this church too had its problems. Most of the congregation, apart from merchants who came briefly to trade, were poor sailors and artisans who had little money to spare for the upkeep of the church. By 1753 most of the paint had peeled off the altar screen and one of the priests declared that he expected the building to fall down at any moment.

During the early nineteenth century, however, matters were to change radically, largely as a result of events inside the Ottoman empire. In 1821 the Greeks rose in revolt against their Turkish overlords and the ensuing war of independence was marked by savage atrocities by both sides. Faced with upheaval and uncertainty, many of the wealthy Greek merchants of Constantinople and the island of Chios moved abroad, and some of them found their way to London.
Stephanos Ralli

Among the first to arrive were members of the Ralli family from Chios, who established the firm of Ralli and Petrocochino at 25 Finsbury Circus in the early 1820s. In 1827 Alexander Ionides (1810-1890) arrived from Constantinople and set up the firm of Ionides and Co. A Greek chapel was set up on their premises in 1837 as a temporary measure.
coat of arms of Rodocanakis family

Other families arrived in the years that followed, the Argentis, the Agelastos, the Schilizzis, the Rodocanachis, the Mavrogordatos and the Scaramangas, to name but a few, and, to start with, most concentrated their business in Finsbury Circus and the surrounding area. They flourished on the importation of grain and oil seed from the Baltic and the export of finished textiles and manufactured goods to the Levant.

The Greek community had thus been transformed from an insignificant minority into an extremely wealthy and influential group. It had a recognised leader in Pandia Ralli (1793-1865), who, in 1835, was appointed as the first Greek Consul in London.

In 1843 Pandia Ralli proposed that a purpose-built church should be erected, funded by voluntary contributions from the Greek community. Ralli did not make the same mistake as Georgirenes and chose a site at 82 London Wall, close to where many of the leading Greeks lived in Finsbury Circus.

When the church opened in January 1850, it excited a great deal of attention, partly because it was designed in Byzantine style, which was almost unknown in London at that time, but also because the £10,000 cost had been met entirely by a community of only a little more than two hundred people. Unfortunately, nothing remains of this church today.

In the years after the inauguration of St. Sophia, many of the wealthier members of the Greek community became increasingly integrated into British society. An increasing number had been born in Britain and educated at public schools, particularly Harrow and Westminster. Some played a prominent role in public life. Pandeli Thomas Ralli (1845-1928) was MP for Bridport from 1875 to 1880, and Lucas Ralli (1846-1931), was created Baronet in 1912. Many of these wealthy and influential people were buried in the Greek section of West Norwood cemetery where their elaborate tombstones and mausoleums, many in classical Greek style, can still be seen.

The Building Of St Sophia

The Greek Orthodox Saint Sophia cathedral in London

By 1870, however, the situation had changed again. The numbers of Greeks in London were no longer to be reckoned in hundreds, but in thousands. The wealthier families tended to move away from the old base in the City to the West End, particularly to Paddington, Bayswater and Notting Hill.

Once again there was a need for a new church, and so in 1877 work began on a new church, with the £50,000 cost being met by the Greek community. Again a Byzantine design was chosen, that of John Oldrid Scott (1841-1913). The new church of St. Sophia, in Moscow Road, Bayswater was consecrated on 5 February 1882 and is still the cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Church in England.

Greeks in the Victorian Art World
The activity of the Greek community of Victorian London was by no means restricted to the worlds of politics and commerce. Alexander Ionides was also an art collector and his house at 1 Holland Park became a meeting place for artists and writers. This was something that was continued by his children. His son, Constantine Ionides (1833-1900), retired from the family stock broking business in 1882 and retired to Brighton where he concentrated in building up his art collection. In his will, he bequeathed all 1138 items to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where most of the paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Degas, Delacroix and Millet, are now on public display.

Alexander’s daughter, Aglaia Coronio (1834-1906), was a well-known literary hostess and a friend of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. She posed for Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), while William Morris (1834-1896), G.F. Watts (1817-1904) and George du Maurier (1834-1896) were frequent guests at her house.
Marie Spartali Stillman . For more look here:
Two cousins of the Constantine Ionides and Aglaia Coronio also left their mark on the London art scene. The sculptor Maria Cassavetti or Zambaco (1843-1914) was the mistress and muse of Edward Burne-Jones. She featured in many of his paintings, notably as Phyllis in Phyllis and Demophoön (1870), now in the Birmingham City Art Gallery, and as Morgana le Fay in The Beguiling of Merlin (1877), which can be seen in the Lady Lever Gallery on Merseyside. Maria Spartali Stillman (1844-1927) was a significant artist of the second generation of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. None of her work is on public display in London but some of it can be seen in the Walker Gallery in Liverpool.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The concept of being clean in history.

peeing a pedestrian was not rare some centuries ago

Nowadays hygiene is something fundamental.Many people expect to find their cities clean and they do the most to keep themselves clean too. Being neat is a must in the western society, but was it always like this? Did we always use the same method to keep ourselves clean?

Let's go in the 16th and 17th century. At that time people believed that water could enter the body and that made it automatically unhealthy.Precisely they believed that hot water was allowing the entrance of unhealthy "air" which could damage the human organs.

Therefore with water out of the options people at this era relied on dry cleaning methods. The nobles were rubbing their face with handkerchiefs containing perfume.In the 16th century savoir vivre replaced the hygienologists. Bath continued to be an uknown word and instead the guides were giving alternative proposals like rubbing a roller with perfume on our armpit if it smelled like a goat.Hair cleaning included removal of grease with powder without using water.

About the body they were not doing anything. The whiteness of someone's clothes indicated his social status. Thus everyone was struggling to keep their clothes clean instead of their body.There were examples like the one of a French baron called Sobeur who was changing his shirt and collar every day while he was changing his underwear every four weeks. Of course the poor people couldn't even clean their clothes cause they didn't have other clothes than the ones they wore.

The immoral baths

In Byzantium the public baths were part of daily life. They were organised in guilds and offered comforts like steam bath , wine , food and resting places.In the 15th century  a private bath was part of the parties of the rich people.The dukes were combining official dinners into private baths.But as we aforementioned since the 16th century all this changed. For instance the baths of Versailles constructed by Louis XIV ended up as residence of the count of Toulouse. At this time baths were associated with immoral acts and were and example of social corruption. In England baths were were forbidden since the 15th century from a decree by Henry the 5th.

Exactly the opposite was happening in the east. The Byzantine tradition of the baths survived in the Ottoman empire with the hamams or more popularly known today as Turkish baths.Meanwhile in the west even doctors like the French royal physician De Laurence  who denounced bathing rendering water as the cause of all body malfunctions. Even  Roger Bacon was suggesting that people should wash themselves using substances  similar to the human flesh and body.All these suggestions influenced the society and nobles of the 17th century were having a bath once every five months. Bath was only allowed for medicinal occasions. The notorious Sun king Louis XIV took a bath twice after suggestions of his physicians and stated that he didn't want live that painful experience.Only in the second half of the 20th century the idea of bathing as a habbit of the rich spread. However the association of bathing with hygiene was still something unknown.

Dirty cities

There were no private toilets 300 tears ago. Thus people were doing it everywhere
Sewers in the cities were introduced in the 19th century. Before that the cities were a mess. The garbage and crap were smelling everywhere and the nobles were moving in the cities with coaches. When they had to walk they were wearing high boots in order to avoid the dirty waters.In the German city of Ulm they were even using stilts. The authorities tried to improve the situation by putting fines on those who threw their garbage on the streets but it was ineffective.It's interesting to mention that one of the first cleaning methods was to unleash pigs which would eat all the garbage.

Toilet? What's a toilet?

Workers had to collect all the crap from the streets. It was a really dirty job.
Since the ancient times there were sewers in the cities. However we know that even organised cities like Byzantine Constantinople had serious problems with crap.In the medieval era people didn't have private toilets.Thus people were polluting the streets and public toilets were a source of all diseases.People were building small rooms with holes in order to have something similar to a private toilet. Boccaccio  in The Decameron he mentions an incident where somebody fell on the wooden walls of a ready to collapse toilet and was mocked by everyone around.

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