For much of human history, privacy during bedtime was an alien concept. Many poor families lived in small houses, where there was only one or two rooms, the larger of which functioned as bedroom and living room both shared by every occupant of the house, including any guests. Even in large houses and palaces, it was not uncommon for servants to sleep in the same room as the master’s. When King Henry V bedded Catherine of Valois, writes Bill Bryson in At Home, both his steward and chamberlain were present in the room. In such circumstances, bed curtains provided a little privacy. But if you wanted true privacy, you had to sleep in a box bed.
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A box bed in Austria. Photo credit: Wolfgang Sauber/Wikimedia Commons