The thing that we don’t really talk about here is that Gertrude and Claudius apparently do not share a bed. They may be honeying and making love – but it’s not in a bed they share. It requires a kind of deliberateness, it would seem. It says – “Hi honey, I’m coming over to visit you in your bed tonight. You wanna come over to mine later?”
I mean…I imagine it might be good for sleep. A king’s sleep is important for the governing of the country, after all. But what if he sleeps better with his wife by his side? I guess then, he has to ask her to come to his bed all the time.
There’s a bit of probing to do on the bed issue. For Shakespeare as well. So much of the craziness around what people imagine is his relationship with his wife stems from him leaving her the second best bed in his will. Scholarship I’ve read indicates that this may actually be a loving gesture – assuring her a place in the house forever – or assuming the 2nd best bed is actually the marriage bed. But it makes me wonder – did Shakespeare and his wife share a bed or visit one another’s beds?
Were the sleeping arrangements of the king public? We assume Queen Elizabeth slept alone (and what about King James?) And were the sleeping arrangements of the royalty of other states public?
I know that French Royalty had rather public sexuality. What about the Danes? Other royal courts? And how do the sleeping arrangements shift as you travel down the great chain of being? Does one have separate beds the more privileged one is? Certainly the poorer people couldn’t afford more than one bed, if they could afford one at all.
I could spend days in the historical rabbit holes of little things like this.