In the 14th century the poorest people slept on a straw mattress on the floor with whatever warm covering they could get. The richest houses had large elaborate beds, with ornamented canopies, richly-embroidered hangings, and soft featherbeds under the fine linen sheets. They were among the most splendid pieces of furniture in a large house, and noblemen often had their emblems embroidered on the hangings. They were a comfortable place to meet for a chat, or receive guests, while displaying an abundance of fine textiles. They could be social gathering places at night too, as visitors of high status would be invited to sleep in a bed even if they had to share.
(Imagine inviting your guests to share your bed)
The picture from 14th or 15th century France shows a canopied, curtained bed with a head sheet laid over the pillow resting on a sheet-draped bolster. Head sheets were gradually replaced by pillowcases and are not usually mentioned after 1500. A pillowcase was always called a pillow bere (bearer) until about the 16th century, but this could mean various kinds of pillow cover, not necessarily a linen pillowcase matching the sheets.
So all in all, beds have played a large part in everyone’s life since the cavemen I guess. But I am so glad I have my nice cosy bed to climb into every night.
You can find information on all my books on my Books We Love page here: