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The English aristocracy and their bed warmers

The English aristocracy and their bed warmers

Before the age of the hot water bottle, how did people make a comfortable bed? The answer, as far as the English aristocracy was concerned, was to use a human hot water bottle. A servant would be sent to the master’s cold bed to act as a warm bed. Then, when his lordship had drunk his port and laughed at his quail, he would retire to his canopy, turn over the bottle of human water, and climb into his now warmer bed. His personal, breathable hot water bottle!

Years later, when Prince James, heir to the British throne, was born in 1688, a bed warmer was at the heart of a plot to disinherit him. A rumor spread that Queen Mary had miscarried and that a warming pan had been sent. The conspirators convince her subjects that the peasant’s baby has been replaced with the stillborn prince; smuggled into the queen’s boudoir, hidden in a warm bed! Doubts about the infant prince’s legitimacy and the conspirators’ desire to eliminate the Catholic line of succession force the queen to flee to France for the safety of the “Prince who warms the bed.” He never succeeded in ascending the British throne. When he invaded 20 years later, he was defeated by the English fleet and George I was crowned King of England instead. His birthright was taken away because of a bed heater!

The bed at the center of the “Bed warmer Prince” scandal is housed in Kensington Palace, Princess Diana’s old home. The warm bed incident played a huge role in the birth of the future royal babies. It was decreed that a senior government figure should be present in the Queen’s bedchamber, negating the possibility of future miscreants and thus removing any doubt as to the true identity of a royal baby. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria gave birth to her first child that Prince Albert banned the practice, calling it “ridiculous!” A really warm bed!

#English #aristocracy #bed #warmers

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