Walnut hospital four poster bed, from Hotel Dieu, Beaune, France, 15th to 17th centuries
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.