The ancient and renaissance history of beds

Amanda Bullock / November 23,2022

The history of beds and bedding is as old as the evolution of man. Because since the human being has existed he has looked for a comfortable place to rest.

The ancient history of beds

The first beds of modern humans consisted of nothing more than piles of grass, leaves, or other natural materials. But it was not until approximately between 3200 a. C. and 2200 a. C. in some 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 keep out drafts, dirt, rodents, and insects, made the beds healthier to use, and helped prevent disease.

did you knowThe original raised beds were made of stone and covered with comfortable natural fibers such as leaves, straw, grass, fur, and wool. Examples of these types of beds found in Scotland are still extant.

The ancient Egyptians were well known for their large bed frames, which were in most cases carried up steps and had a large number of pillows, drapes and draperies on top and around it. The wealthiest Egyptians were even the first to introduce wooden beds, and the pharaohs and queens of Egypt often slept on large, ornate wooden beds that were gilt with gold.

The medieval history of beds in Europe

During the early part of the Middle Ages, people placed rugs on the floor or on a slightly raised bench and ancient mattresses made of cloth stuffed with wool or hair on top of them. This type of bed developed over time and in the 13th century it developed 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 in pillows used to raise a person’s body to an inclined sleeping position. By the 14th century, bed ornamentation became such an integral part of bed design that they were often covered in tapestries of rich materials such as silk, velvet, and gilt cloth. It was also during this time that the first feather mattresses were used on beds in Europe. From this time until the 17th century the beds increased in size and opulence.

The Renaissance history of beds in Europe

Starting in the 17th century, the development of beds and bed styles evolved by leaps and bounds. In fact, the beginning 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 the French king even used a portable bed when he visited parliament.

did you knowOne of the largest French beds ever built was kept in the Palace of Versailles and was covered in so much gold that you could barely see its velvet cover.