How dirty and smelly were medieval cities
Medieval London was a maze of twisting streets and narrow lanes. Townhouses, most of them half-timbered, were equally constricted, and three or four stories tall.
Lack of personal hygiene
Few people bothered to wash regularly, with even less having more than one set of clothes.
Instead, communal cesspits were provided for the deposit of human waste.
The river as a dumping ground
For medieval Londoners, as with those living in Paris, Venice, and other European cities, the only source of water would have been a river.
A population so tightly packed together would have stunk. Lice and fleas enjoyed a bonanza of blood.
Center of trade and commerce
London, however, emerged as the center of European commerce and trade. Around 80,000 citizens were crammed inside the old Roman walls.
It wasn't uncommon to come across a bloated and decomposing corpse floating in the river. Dead dogs and cats also made up this deplorable detritus.
It's estimated that in a medieval city with a population of 10,000, people typically produced 900,000 liters of excrement and nearly three million liters of urine annually.
Use of latrines
Few if any cities in the Middle Ages had any semblance of a functioning underground sewage system. Indeed, proper sanitation was for the most part a preserve of the rich.
Basic living conditions
Living conditions were basic, with few of the amenities we today would call essential.