Unusual and interesting toilets from all around the world.

Shakespearean Chamber Pots

A Chamber Pot from Shakespeare's Time

This is not the chamber pot of William Shakespeare. It isn't The Bard's own thunder mug. However, this is an English chamber pot from approximately 1600, during Shakespeare's life, and it is very much like what he used. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. had a special exhibit on day-to-day life in Shakespeare's time. They didn't have an English chamber pot from England, as chamber pots weren't the sort of family treasure that you carefully kept. This one was found in an archaeological excavation, it was brought from England to the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. It isn't part of the Folger's collection, but was on load from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

A Shakespearean era chamber pot from approximately 1600.
A Shakespearean era chamber pot from approximately 1600.

Jamestown was an ongoing disaster. Although, it was less disastrous than some colonies that preceded it, like the Lost Colony of Roanoke.


Shakespeare lived 1564–1616. It seems that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592. The First Folio, containing all but two of his plays, was published in 1623.

Jamestown was established in 1607 by the Virginia Company of London, briefly abandoned in 1610, and then went on to serve as the capital of the colony of Virginia for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699, at which point it was rapidly abandoned and it decayed.

The location was chosen for being a defensible point on water navigable by the ships of the era. It was uninhabited by the local natives because they knew better. Jamestown was located in what was called Tsenacommacah and spelled in widely varying ways in Roman characters — Tsenacomoco, Tscenocomoco, Tenakomakah, Attanoughkomouck, and Attan-Akamik were all used.

The name meant "densely inhabited land" in the language of the Powhatan Confederacy. It referred to an area of land about 100 miles on a side. Its southern boundary was the south bank of the Powhatan River (which the English called the "James River" after their King James I), and the northern boundary was the mouth of the Potomac River (for which the English kept the original Algonquian name). It extended from the Atlantic coastline inland to about the fall line of the rivers. The confederacy was based near the present-day city of Richmond, and it was led by Wahunsenacawh, popularly known as Chief Powhatan. The Paspahegh tribe were members of the confederacy, living the closest to the English settlement.

Jamestown was swampy, largely isolated from the surrounding land, plagued by mosquitoes, and had only brackish tidal river water that was not suitable for drinking. The colonists compounded their poor choice by arriving too late in the year to establish any crops, not that any would have grown well there had they arrived earlier. And who was to do the agriculture anyway, with a large fraction of their party ranking gentlemen and their manservants, all unaccustomed to the hard labor of building a colony and establishing farming.

Anyway, arrive they did, with English lavatorial hardware like this chamber pot.

This would be just the thing to keep in your bedroom, sitting on the floor right next to or below your bed. Then you could save, well, whatever, overnight in the pot. And then fling the contents out the window in the morning.

Look out below!

Sanitation and Public Health in Elizabethan-Era Europe

The Spanish were amazed when they first arrived in Central and South America and found huge cities without open sewage running down all the streets.


Back home in Europe, the streets were basically open sewers. Pedestrians were regularly hit by chamber pot contents being thrown out of overhead windows. The Romans had built sophisticated water supply systems and decent sanitation systems to remove sewage and other waste. But with the long decline and disappearance of Roman culture, sanitation in Europe went from primitive to largely non-existent.

Sanitation and Public Health in the Americas

Maya Water Supplies The Deadly Cocoliztli

Meanwhile the Classic Maya civilization had sophisticated underground aqueducts and flush toilets at Palenque. They even carved the local limestone into porous cylinders to produce household water filters similar to modern ceramic water filters. Henry Doulton invented a ceramic water filter in 1827, but the Maya people had them during their Classic period of approximately 800-1200 AD.

The Powhatan Confederacy initially welcomed and helped the fairly inept English settlers with gifts of food and assistance raising and gathering their own. But relations quickly turned bad, and warfare and disease had annihilated the Paspahegh tribe within three years. The almost complete lack of sanitation at Jamestown must have played a role in this.

Then starvation and disease began killing off the English, with over 80% of them dying during the "Starving Time" of 1609-1610.

Chamber pots and
early modern sanitation

Meanwhile the Virginia Company had brought eight Polish, Slovak, and German settlers to the colony in 1608. A few of them built a small glass factory, but all the Germans and a few of the rest decided their chances were better with the natives and defected with weapons and supplies.

In 1619 the English had captured a Portuguese slave ship in the West Indies, and brought all 50 of the men, women, and children — the first documented African slaves in the English-controlled mainland.

The Folger Library and Shakespeare

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. has the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare and a significant collection of other material from the Early Modern period of 1500-1750.

This chamber pot was in a special exhibit at the Folger Library in Washington DC, which is just behind the Library of Congress and within a block of the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court. The Folger is dedicated to Shakespeare, his works, and the world he inhabited. Chamber pots and all.

The Folger Library in Washington DC, USA.

While the Library of Congress is adjacent on two sides, the Folger is a privately founded independent research library now administered by Amherst College. About 750 copies of Shakespeare's First Folio were printed in 1623. It contains 36 of his 38 plays, all but Pericles, Prince of Tyre and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and is the only reliable text for about twenty of them. 235 copies of the First Folio are known to still exist. The Folger holds 82 examples of the First Folio, far more than any other collection. The second and third largest collections are at Meisei University in Tokyo (12) and the British Library (5).

The original price was £1, equivalent to about £95-£110 today. The few original folios would bring a few million to maybe fifteen million pounds today. The prices on modern editions look pretty attractive.

Chamber Pots in Shakespeare's Works

The sanitary ware of the period appears several times in Shakespeare's work. In Henry IV, Part 2, Falstaff has had a physician examine his urine.

Enter FALSTAFF, with his PAGE bearing his sword and buckler (and chamber pot)

FALSTAFF: Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor of my water?

PAGE: He said, sir, the water itself was a good healthy water, but, for the party that owed it, he might have more diseases than he knew for.

Henry IV Part 2, Act 1, Scene 2

Henry IV Part 2, Act 1, Scene 2, from 'The Hollow Crown'

Falstaff and his page with Falstaff's chamberpot and urine, from The Hollow Crown. The makers of the miniseries had the page bring the urine back, instead of simply relaying the results.


Uroscopy, the vague analysis of "casting the water", meant visual examination of urine. It was less smelly than coproscopy, looking at feces, and less intrusive (and infection-prone) than hematoscopy, looking at blood.

A matula is a glass vessel for examining urine.

Here is The Dropsical Woman, painted in 1663 by the Dutch painter Gerrit Dou (1613-1675), from the Musée du Louvre in Paris. I saw it when it was on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 2017. The physician is holding a matula to the light to examine her urine. Or, as Shakespeare would have referred to it, a jordan. However, Shakespeare was writing about Falstaff in a tavern and freight carriers in a rough flea-plagued in, not a physician. So, by "jordan" he meant a chamberpot.

Dutch physician practicing uroscopy, Gerrit Dou's 'The Dropsical Woman', 1663.
Dutch physician practicing uroscopy, detail of Gerrit Dou's 'The Dropsical Woman', 1663.

Later in the play, in Act 2 Scene 4, Falstaff enters a room at the Boar's Head Tavern singing and calling for the chamberpot to be emptied. Maybe he's carrying it with him, having just used it. Or maybe he's announcing that he needs to use the house chamberpot, prepare it for him.


HOSTESS: I' faith, sweetheart, methinks now you are in an excellent good temperality. Your pulsidge beats as extraordinarily as heart would desire; and your colour, I warrant you, is as red as any rose, in good truth, la! But, i' faith, you have drunk too much canaries; and that's a marvellous searching wine, and it perfumes the blood ere one can say "What's this?" How do you now?

DOLL: Better than I was— hem.

HOSTESS: Why, that's well said; a good heart's worth gold. Lo, here comes Sir John.


FALSTAFF [Singing]: "When Arthur first in court" — Empty the jordan.


FALSTAFF [Singing]: "And was a worthy king" — How now, Mistress Doll!

Henry IV Part 2, Act 2, Scene 4

Jordan was slang for a chamberpot. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term is of medieval origin.

Chimes at Midnight, a 1965 film starring Orson Welles, is centered on Falstaff and contains material from five of Shakespeare's plays. This includes chamber pot and uroscopy references.

Around 1:20 into the film, Falstaff goes into a compartment or stall at one end of a room in the Boar's Head Tavern. It has a swinging door made from planks, extending from below knee level to about shoulder height.

Bardolph enters soon after, telling Falstaff that Pistol is looking for him. We get a better view of the stall.

Mistress Quickly is accusing Falstaff of swaggering.

Falstaff stands up and calls for the jordan to be answered.

A little later, still upstairs at the Boar's Head Tavern, Falstaff's young page returns from an errand. This is from Henry IV Part 2, Act 1, Scene 2. Falstaff asks his page what the doctor said "about his water".

The page, carrying Falstaff's chamber pot, reports that the doctor said that the urine was fine but the person who produced it might be diseased.

The 1995 film of Richard III stars Ian McKellen as Richard, and Robert Downey Jr as Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers. It's based on a stage production which also starred McKellen. Both the play and movie are set in an alternative 1930s Britain with Richard as a fascist.

The movie begins with events from the end of Henry VI Part 3, Richard's murder of Henry VI and his son Edward. Richard's opening soliloquy doesn't begin until about 00:09:30 into the movie, where it is an after-dinner toast to the newly crowned King Edward and the other gathered characters.

Then he breaks off after line 11 and retreats to the lavatory, where he delivers lines 12-31 (interpolated with some lines from 3 Henry VI) at a row of large 1930s urinals and at the sinks. The urinals are flushed by a pull-chain from an overhead tank. The lavatory scene is from 00:10:35 to 00:12:04.

Richard III
Amazon 0792844041
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lasivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
I, that am rudely stamped and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into the breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them—
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.

Richard III, 1.1 1-27
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Richard III, 1.1 28-31

Other Shakespeare Quotes

Henry IV Part 1:

Enter a CARRIER with a lantern in his hand

Heigh-ho! an it be not four by the day, I'll be hanged: Charles' wain is over the new chimney, and yet our horse not packed. What, ostler!

OSTLER [within]:
Anon, anon.

I prithee, Tom, beat Cut's saddle, put a few flocks in the point; poor jade, is wrung in the withers out of all cess.

Enter another CARRIER

Peas and beans are as dank here as a dog, and that is the next way to give poor jades the bots: this house is turned upside down since Robin Ostler died.

Poor fellow, never joyed since the price of oats rose; it was the death of him.

I think this be the most villanous house in all London road for fleas: I am stung like a tench.

Like a tench! by the mass, there is ne'er a king christen could be better bit than I have been since the first cock.

Why, they will allow us ne'er a jordan, and then we will leak in your chimney; and your chamber-lye breeds fleas like a loach.

What, ostler! come away and be hanged!

I have a gammon of bacon and two razors of ginger, to be delivered as far as Charing-cross.

God's body! the turkeys in my pannier are quite starved. What, ostler! A plague on thee! hast thou never an eye in thy head? canst not hear? An 'twere not as good deed as drink, to break the pate on thee, I am a very villain. Come, and be hanged! hast thou no faith in thee?

Henry IV Part 1 Act 2 Scene 1

The scene is set in an inn yard in Rochester along the road to London, between two and four in the morning. Two freight carriers are preparing to load their horses with the bacon, ginger, and turkey they are taking to the market in London. Charles' wain and churl's wain, a term for a rustic's wagon, was a popular name of the constellation of the Great Bear or Ursa Major.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare omits that line of the Second Carrier, joining the lines of the First Carrier immediately before and after. Project Gutenberg used an edition printed in the early 1990s by World Library, Inc., which had claimed a copyright on Shakespeare's work. And on top of that, they left out a line that they might have found offensive. This 1858 edition has the text intact, along with some explanatory notes. (Although with no explanation of the chamberpot reference)

It's not an especially nice inn, as the carriers are complaining about its cold and damp breakfast and severe flea problem. Everything has gone downhill since Robin, the former inn-keeper, died.

Men commonly urinated into fireplaces in the middle of the night, rather than use the chamberpot. The Second Carrier is complaining that there was no alternative, this low-end inn didn't even provide a chamberpot in the room.

Chamber-lye refers to urine, which the Second Carrier claims increases the number of fleas. Lye historically meant potassium hydroxide or KOH, today it commonly means sodium hydroxide or NaOH. Lye is a major ingredient in traditional soap-making. You create lye by soaking wood ashes in water, and then heat that mixed with oil or fat to create soap.

However, even after soap production became common, people continued to use urine for cleaning. Urine, especially once aged and concentrated, has a high ammonium or NH4+ content. Another alkali (although not as strong as lye), ammonium also lifted dirt and grease out of clothing. You could soak clothing in urine as a pre-treatment for tough stains. Chamber-lye meant urine collected in a chamberpot for cleaning use.

The Roman
Urine Tax

Urine had been collected for centuries for laundry purposes. The Romans imposed a tax on it. The citizens provided a supply in public pissoirs, then merchants paid the local government to use the urine.

Urine and its Role in Textile Production in Shakespeare's Time

In the 16th and 17th centuries, urine became crucial to the textile industry of England. Alum was quarried along the Yorkshire Coast. It needed to be mixed with urine, and at its peak English alum production required 200 tons of urine every year, the product of 1,000 people. Casks of urine were transported from London and Newcastle to the alum works in Yorkshire.

Shakespeare finished Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2 just before the alum production really took off. Had he written those plays ten years later, he might have worked in some comments by the Carriers about their inn-keeper making money from their excretions.

1367 Henry IV was born
1402–1403 Battles at Homildon and Shrewsbury depicted in Henry IV, Part 1
1413 Henry IV died
1527 Henry VIII asked for an annulment of his marriage, leading eventually to the English Reformation
1532–1534 Henry VIII was declared "Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England". England was banned from the Papal alum trade, requiring local production.
1564 William Shakespeare was born
1597 Henry IV, Part 1 was written no later than 1597
1596–1599 Henry IV, Part 2 was written some time in 1596-1599
1604 Alum production began at Slapewath, Guisborough
1615 Peak Alum Works founded near Doncaster
1616 William Shakespeare died

All's Well That Ends Well:

Foh, pr'ythee stand away. A paper from Fortune's close-stool to give to a nobleman! Look here he comes himself.

All's Well That Ends Well Act 5 Scene 2

Wipe or Wash?
The history of
toilet paper

The CLOWN is likening the smell of PAROLLES' letter to used toilet paper. The lid of a close-stool would shut and form a stool as a piece of furniture to sit on, but it also closed over the pot filled with fecal matter and made things a little less smelly.

In Shakespeare's time, only very wealthy people would have been able to afford toilet paper. The common people in Elizabethan England would have used leaves, tree bark, rags, or their hands.

Love's Labour's Lost:

O! sir, you have overthrown Alisander the conqueror! You will be scraped out of the painted cloth for this; your lion, that holds his pole-axe sitting on a close-stool, will be given to Ajax: he will be the ninth Worthy. A conqueror, and afeard to speak! Run away for shame, Alisander. [Nathaniel retires.] There, an't shall please you: a foolish mild man; an honest man, look you, and soon dashed! He is a marvellous good neighbour, faith, and a very good bowler; but for Alisander,—alas! you see how 'tis—a little o'erparted. But there are Worthies a-coming will speak their mind in some other sort.

Love's Labour's Lost Act 5 Scene 2

Costard is mangling a description of Alexander the Great's coat of arms, a lion on a throne holding an axe.

Before the Great Vowel Shift, "Ajax" and "a jakes" would have been pronounced the same. And, "a jakes" was a slang name for a toilet. Ajax the Greek hero and a jakes, more decorously called a close-stool, are conflated, adding to Costard's confusion.

Troilus and Cressida:

[the scene has been filled with arguing back and forth between Ajax and Thersites for some time]

Thou shouldst strike him.


He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a sailor breaks a biscuit.

You whoreson cur!

Do, do.

Thou stool for a witch!

Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an asinico may tutor thee. You scurvy valiant ass! Thou art here but to thrash Trojans, and thou art bought and sold among those of any wit like a barbarian slave. If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel and tell what thou art by inches, thou thing of no bowels, thou!

You dog!

You scurvy lord!

You cur!

Troilus and Cressida Act 2 Scene 1

As in the above from Love's Labour's Lost, Thersites is punning on Ajax's name being a slang term for a jakes or toilet, as described in the history of the flush toilet. "Stool for a witch" refers to a witch's close-stool or toilet.

King Lear:

[Enter Edmund, Cornwall, Regan, Gloucester and Servants.]

How now! What's the matter? Part!

With you, goodman boy, if you please: come, I'll flesh ye; come on, young master.

Weapons! arms! What's the matter here?

Keep peace, upon your lives, he dies that strikes again. What is the matter?

The messengers from our sister and the King.

What is your difference? Speak.

I am scarce in breath, my lord.

No marvel, you have so bestirr'd your valour. You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.

Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?

Ay, a tailor, sir: a stonecutter or a painter could not have made him so ill, though he had been but two years at the trade.

Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?

This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spared at suit of his grey beard,—

Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter! My lord, if you'll give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villain into mortar and daub the walls of a jakes with him. Spare my grey beard, you wagtail?

Peace, sirrah! You beastly knave, know you no reverence?

King Lear Act 2 Scene 2

Jakes is a term for a toilet. Kent is proposing to grind Cornwall into mortar and use him to patch or plaster the walls of a toilet stall.


There is a knocking at a door. A PORTER opens the door to MACDUFF and LENNOX.

I pray you, remember the porter.

Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed that you do lie so late?

Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock, and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.

What three things does drink especially provoke?

Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery. It makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him and disheartens him; makes him stand to and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep and, giving him the lie, leaves him.

Macbeth, Act 2 Scene 3

Measure for Measure:

Some report a sea-maid spawned him; some, that he was begot between two stock-fishes. But it is certain that when he makes water, his urine is congealed ice; that I know to be true. And he is a motion ungenerative; that's infallible.

Measure For Measure, Act 3 Scene 2


[MENENIUS has entered with SICINIUS and BRUTUS]

Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

You know neither me, yourselves, nor any thing. You are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs; you wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange-wife and a fosset-seller, and then rejourn the controversy of threepence to a second day of audience. When you are hearing a matter between party and party, if you chance to be pinch'd with the colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody flag against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot, dismiss the controversy bleeding, the more entangled by your hearing. All the peace you make in their cause is calling both the parties knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.

Coriolanus Act 2 Scene 1

2 Henry VI:

[Enter JACK CADE and the rest, and strikes his staff on London Stone]

Now is Mortimer lord of this city. And here, sitting upon London Stone, I charge and command that, of the city's cost, the pissing conduit run nothing but claret wine this first year of our reign. And now henceforward it shall be treason for any that calls me other than Lord Mortimer.

[Enter a SOLDIER, running]

Jack Cade! Jack Cade!

Knock him down there.

[They kill him]

If this fellow be wise, he'll never call ye Jack Cade more; I think he hath a very fair warning.

My lord, there's an army gathered together in Smithfield.

Come then, let's go fight with them. But first go and set London Bridge on fire; and, if you can, burn down the Tower too. Come, let's away.

2 Henry VI Act 4 Scene 6

That is the entirety of Scene 6. "Pissing Conduit" was a nickname for the Little Conduit, a water fountain used by lower-class London residents.

The Merry Wives of Windsor:

[Another part of the Park]

[Enter FALSTAFF disguised as HERNE]

The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the minute draws on. Now the hot-blooded gods assist me! Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for thy Europa; love set on thy horns. O powerful love! that in some respects makes a beast a man; in some other a man a beast. You were also, Jupiter, a swan, for the love of Leda. O omnipotent love! how near the god drew to the complexion of a goose! A fault done first in the form of a beast-O Jove, a beastly fault!-and then another fault in the semblance of a fowl— think on't, Jove, a foul fault! When gods have hot backs what shall poor men do? For me, I am here a Windsor stag; and the fattest, I think, i' th' forest. Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow? Who comes here? my doe?


The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 5 Scene 5

The Tempest:

[Prospero and Ariel remain invisible. Enter Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo all wet.]

Pray you, tread softly, that the blind mole may not Hear a foot fall: we now are near his cell.

Monster, your fairy, which you say is a harmless fairy, has done little better than played the Jack with us.

Monster, I do smell all horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation.

So is mine. Do you hear, monster? If I should take a displeasure against you, look you,—

Thou wert but a lost monster.

Good my lord, give me thy favour still. Be patient, for the prize I'll bring thee to Shall hoodwink this mischance: therefore speak softly. All's hush'd as midnight yet.

The Tempest Act 4 Scene 1

The Two Gentlemen of Verona:

Enter LAUNCE with his dog

When a man's servant shall play the cur with him, look you, it goes hard— one that I brought up of a puppy; one that I sav'd from drowning, when three or four of his blind brothers and sisters went to it. I have taught him, even as one would say precisely 'Thus I would teach a dog.' I was sent to deliver him as a present to Mistress Silvia from my master; and I came no sooner into the dining-chamber, but he steps me to her trencher and steals her capon's leg. O, 'tis a foul thing when a cur cannot keep himself in all companies! I would have, as one should say, one that takes upon him to be a dog indeed, to be, as it were, a dog at all things. If I had not had more wit than he, to take a fault upon me that he did, I think verily he had been hang'd for't; sure as I live, he had suffer'd for't. You shall judge. He thrusts me himself into the company of three or four gentleman-like dogs under the Duke's table; he had not been there, bless the mark, a pissing while but all the chamber smelt him. 'Out with the dog' says one; 'What cur is that?' says another; 'Whip him out' says the third; 'Hang him up' says the Duke. I, having been acquainted with the smell before, knew it was Crab, and goes me to the fellow that whips the dogs. 'Friend,' quoth I 'you mean to whip the dog.' 'Ay, marry do I' quoth he. 'You do him the more wrong,' quoth I; "twas I did the thing you wot of.' He makes me no more ado, but whips me out of the chamber. How many masters would do this for his servant? Nay, I'll be sworn, I have sat in the stock for puddings he hath stol'n, otherwise he had been executed; I have stood on the pillory for geese he hath kill'd, otherwise he had suffer'd for't. Thou think'st not of this now. Nay, I remember the trick you serv'd me when I took my leave of Madam Silvia. Did not I bid thee still mark me and do as I do? When didst thou see me heave up my leg and make water against a gentlewoman's farthingale? Didst thou ever see me do such a trick?

The Two Gentlemen of Verona Act 4 Scene 4

A farthingale was a hooped petticoat or circular pad women wore under their skirts. It originated in Spain in the 15th century, and was commonly worn in western Europe in the 16th and 17th century. A farthingale advertised a court woman's high social position, as it substantially increased the amount of expensive fabrics needed for the covering gown. Only a wealthy woman could afford such "wide and flaunting garments". Here Launce is contrasting his behavior to that of dogs like his own.

Twelfth Night:

What is thy excellence in a galliard, knight?

Faith, I can cut a caper.

And I can cut the mutton to't.

And I think I have the back-trick simply as strong as any man in Illyria.

Wherefore are these things hid? Wherefore have these gifts a curtain before 'em? Are they like to take dust, like Mistress Mall's picture? Why dost thou not go to church in a galliard, and come home in a coranto? My very walk should be a jig; I would not so much as make water but in a sink-a-pace. What dost thou mean? Is it a world to hide virtues in? I did think, by the excellent constitution of thy leg, it was formed under the star of a galliard.

Ay, 'tis strong, and it does indifferent well in a dam'd-colour'd stock. Shall we set about some revels?

Twelfth Night Act 1 Scene 3

Sir Toby is saying that he is such a dancer that he wouldn't even urinate without simultaneously performing a sink-a-pace, a five-step version of the galliard dance. It's called a cinq pas in French and a cinque passi in Italian; it was referred to as "sink-a-pace" in England.

The Two Noble Kinsmen:

This is that scornefull peece, that scurvy hilding, That gave her promise faithfully, she would be here, Cicely the Sempsters daughter: The next gloves that I give her shall be dog skin; Nay and she faile me once—you can tell, Arcas, She swore by wine and bread, she would not breake.

An Eele and woman, A learned Poet sayes, unles by'th taile And with thy teeth thou hold, will either faile. In manners this was false position

A fire ill take her; do's she flinch now?

What Shall we determine, Sir?

Nothing. Our busines is become a nullity; Yea, and a woefull, and a pittious nullity. 4. COUNTREYMAN. Now when the credite of our Towne lay on it, Now to be frampall, now to pisse o'th nettle! Goe thy waies; ile remember thee, ile fit thee.

[Enter Iaylors daughter]

The Two Noble Kinsmen Act 3 Scene 5

To be frampall or frampold was to be disagreeable or bad-tempered.

Some people claim that urine is a remedy for contact dermatitis with a stinging sensation, as caused by nettles and some jellyfish. Then again, some people claim that drinking your own urine is somehow helpful.

At the Folger Shakespeare Library

The public restrooms are one floor directly below the theatre and ticket office.

The design reflects the Folger's construction in 1930-1932.

Urinals and sink at The Folger Library in Washington DC, USA.
Sink and water fountain at The Folger Library in Washington DC, USA.