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Four poster hospital bed, France, 1443-1700

Hôtel-Dieu translates as ‘hostel of god’. It is an old name given to the main hospitals in a number of French towns and cities. This particular bed comes from the famous Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune, France. The hospital was founded by Nicolas Rolin (Chancellor to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy) and his wife Guigone de Salins in 1443. This was soon after the Hundred Years War and many people were destitute and the country was unsafe at this time. The hospital was open to the poor and needy who were accommodated in curtained beds in the ‘poor hall’. Two or more people often shared a bed. They were arranged down the sides of the room and each was curtained off to allow for some privacy and warmth. The building of the former Hôtel-Dieu is now the museum of the Hospices Civils de Beaune.

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Glossary: hospital

An institution providing health care for individuals. This usually takes the form of medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for ill or injured people

Glossary: hospital bed

A piece of furniture used for sleeping on. Usually a metal or wooden framework with a mattress and coverings

Glossary: hospital ward

A division of a hospital