Monday, January 9, 2012

From the Top Shelf - At Home II

This selection from At Home by Bill Bryson is taken from the chapter on the evolution of the bedroom, which examines the sleeping arrangements of people over the centuries. The author refers to a passage written by John Aubrey, a seventeenth-century historian, about the marriage of Thomas More's daughter Margaret to a man named William Roper. For those of us interested in canes and their application, it leads to some interesting speculation.

...Roper calls one morning and tells More that he wishes to marry one of More's daughters--either one will do--upon which More takes Roper to his bedroom, where the daughters are asleep in a truckle bed wheeled out from beneath the parental bed. Leaning over, More deftly takes "the sheet by the corner and suddenly whippes it off," Aubrey relates in words that all but glisten lustily, revealing the girls to be fundamentally naked. Groggily protesting at the disturbance, they roll onto their stomachs, and after a moment's admiring reflection Sir William announces that he has seen both sides now and with his stick lightly taps the bottom of sixteen-year-old Margaret.

Was the suitor testing the resilience of his intended's backside? A sign of things to come, perhaps? Rather a novel way to ask for a woman's hand in marriage.

From Hermione's Heart

13 comments:

OldFashionedGirl said...

What a great little story. Thanks for sharing it with us - it will buzz around in my all day.

ronnie said...

Very interesting Hermione.
They used to marry them off quite young. Thanks.

Red said...

I am always amazed at how you find such interesting books to read. What a way to marry off ones daughters...
Glad we have progressed as a society wince then, at least in many parts of the world.

Hermione said...

OFG - That was a whole other side of More. Who knew!

Ronnie - Yes, sixteen was practically middle-aged.

Red - Ron and I gave each other copies of the book for Christmas last year. I wasn't expecting to find anything blogworthy in it.

Hugs,
Hermione

sunnygirl said...

Very interesting story. Sr. Thomas More huh. Our school history books never revealed this side of him.:)

Hermione said...

Sunnygirl - I remember that eldest daughter from The Tudors. I didn't realize what the sleeping arrangements were like.

Hugs,
Hermione

Kitty said...

Quite bizarre! I would have died if my father had ever done that to me when I was sixteen.

Hugs,
Kitty

Serenity Everton said...

In addition to all the other comments above, can I just say ...

I love that bed.

OldFashionedGirl said...

Oops, fill in the missing word. "Thanks for sharing it with us - it will buzz around in my HEAD all day." Is what I meant to say, but it came out all different...

Hermione said...

Kitty - And with her father being a priest and all - shocking!

Serenity - It is gorgeous, isn't it. It was hard to find a picture that wasn't a modern trundle bed, and I found it here.

OFG -No worries! I knew what you meant.

Hugs,
Hermione

Anonymous said...

A fascinating tale Hermione. I wonder how the marriage worked out. And was he choosing the younger or the older of the two.

Karl Friedrich Gauss

Hermione said...

Karl - Margaret - the one he chose - was the eldest of three daughters, and More's favourite.

SP said...

omg, this is fascinating! I love historical tidbits like this one. Thank you for sharing.