What would a castle where thousands of women lived, be like? How would meals work? Who would handle the laundry? How would you keep the queens underwear from getting mixed up with her Lady-in-Waiting’s? What if there were 50 queens, each with 5-10 maids?
The Akbarnama details the existence of this place, but nothing has been documented about what it was like to live there. All we know is that the royal women of the time were “forced” to live there and were provided servants to meet their every need.
So how did they do laundry on such a large scale??
I really looked but could not find anything documented in English. Do you have information? Please let me know!
The idea that each royal woman had a servant, or two (or ten) to wash their underthings, and it some how, did not get mixed up with another royal woman’s underthings, seems unlikely. So I created the concept of The Night Maids.
The only picture I could find of a medieval laundry machine, but it was from the 17th Century. A bit too modern for my story.
Excerpt from Chapter 10 in Book 2, The Women Who Rule, of The Mumtaz Chronicles
“Each basket must be labeled immediately. No coming down here with three baskets and getting them mixed up. Labeling is very important. We tried sewing labels right onto the baskets, but then the women upstairs kept mixing them up and blaming us for not keeping it straight.” Qadira shook her head in frustration. “So now as soon as the basket is retrieved, label it. After it is brought down here to this station, the Lead Night Maid goes through every item in the basket. The item, its condition and special instructions are noted on the paper. The resident’s name is noted and the paper is pinned to the basket.” She emphasized the word ‘pinned’. “Do not just lay the paper on the top of the items. It must be pinned. Papers get mixed up all the time. If they send down three bath towels, three exact clean bath towels must be sent back up by next morning. If labels have been lost or worn off, they must be replaced. If a stain appears needing special attention, the Washing Station must be notified. Rips or tears must be reported so they can be mended. You both understand?”