The Groom of the Stool

The men with the crowns
who lived in the castles
had servants galore
for their everyday hassles.
For kings can't be bothered
with choosing their clothes,
or cooking their food,
or blowing their nose.
Fifty servants for cleaning,
and six groom the steed,
and ten for just boiling the royalty's tea.

A King's royal bottom needs special attention,
like everything else in royal convention.
But whom can be trusted to wipe royal cheeks?
And who holds the bucket while royalty leaks?
Why, the Groom of the Stool handles pot and backside,
a position of power,
position of pride.
All the knights and the ladies are just a King's tool,
from the greatest of servants on down to the Fool,
there is none more noble than Groom of the Stool.


-B.C. Byron
This is one of the finer examples of a royal chamber pot. Not quite as fancy as the modern-day Excretomax 5000, but it was far better than any peasant’s potty.

In case you were wondering, yes, this was a real job in ancient times. I don’t know if every member of the royal household had such a servant, or even if every king did, but this is definitely an actual medieval profession. You can imagine the amount of trust a king or queen would have to put in the person that takes care of their toilet needs. The Groom of the Stool must have been an important person to the king, though I can’t imagine it’s the kind of job someone would brag about to their friends. The history books claim this was a top position within the castle staff. Consider the fact that toilet paper had not been invented yet… on second thought, don’t consider that. It’s best if you don’t spend too many brain cycles thinking about the possibilities ranging from reusable rags to leaves to hands. Better to not wonder about the awkward silences as the groom set about their terrible work and what happened when the king had eaten far too many kidney pies and then washed it all down with bad mead only to wake up with the tummy grumbles at 3 a.m. Just stop thinking about it, okay.

There are many difficult, tedious, not-so-fun jobs that need doing in today’s world. There are even some folks kind enough to clean up after us when we’re ill in the hospital and can’t take care of ourselves. If you should end up working as a hamburger flipper at a questionably sanitary restaurant or a customer service representative for a rash cream company on 12 hour shifts, just think about how much worse it could be if you lived in the times of kings, queens, knights, and ladies. Remember that you do have toilet paper, air conditioning, and hand soap. Count your blessings and be glad that you’re not a groom of the stool whose job consists of waiting around in the royal stink chamber, with no mobile phone, until the king has to do his business. Be the best rash cream representative you can, and know that you’re easily 50 steps above the king’s most trusted servant.