Posts Tagged ‘Franks’

Your RDA of Medieval Plumbing

Posted in On This Day on January 19th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 5 Comments

This is a real advertisement:


“A throwback to the medieval era of knights, castles and fairy tale romance, this throne toilet with French Merovingian style (8th century) is highlighted by hand painted earthenware accessories (Musset poem, ashtray…). Its high-profile seat back with a gothic-arch top and full armrests give the toilet a majestic appearance. Inscribed on the seat back is a poem by the French poet, Alfred de Musset. The musical chime “Le Bon Roi Dagobert”, with a voice reciting the Musset poem, starts when you raise the lid and a bell is coupled with the flush, making a visit to the bathroom an unforgettable experience.” Made from an Ash tree, it’s protected by three layers of polyurethane. Comes with candle holder and ashtray. Priced at or above $9000

Medieval plumbing is an oxymoron and why would a “fashionable” toilet be named for a seventh century Frankish king? You’d think that the Byzantine Emperors or the Caliphs might have had more impressive thrones, but King Dagobert I apparently set the standard for royal assizes.

Although Dagobert (603-639) would seem like the name of a bad pizzeria, the king was actually one of the more formidable French rulers of the Dark Ages. When he died–this day in 639–he had managed to hold the throne and actually rule for five years. Few of his ancestors could make that claim, and none of his descendants could. Dagobert was almost an only child, so he only had one sibling and a nephew to eliminate to gain complete control of France.

Being king of all the Franks was an achievement in itself; he certainly would never have imagined himself the namesake of a toilet. Indeed, he probably never imagine the idea of a toilet. True, the Romans had them although not with ashtrays; but the running water had been shut off some two centuries earlier. In Dagobert’s lifetime, the ultimate accolade for a Frankish warlord would be getting a bolt of silk from Constantinople. From the Frankish perspective, it was pure status; from the Byzantine perspective, it was the equivalent of a Christmas card for the help.

Perhaps the toilet was a more sincere tribute.