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  • n. ??Old English bedd; related to Old Norse bethr, Old High German betti, Gothic badi. A piece of furniture intended for people to lie on, consisting of a frame, usually with legs, on which are placed a bed base, a mattress, pillows and various items of clothing. Beds come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The earliest beds were little more than piles of straw or some other natural material that were spread out on the floor at night and collected during the day. Mattresses, stuffed with feathers, wool or hair, were invented in the Middle Ages. From the 12th century onwards, beds were always depicted with curtains that could enclose the bed. These grew in elegance and size. Their evolution in Northern Europe led to a canopy or baldachin being placed over the bed. This canopy, with curtains, served to reduce the size of the room, allowing body heat to warm it more easily than the whole room. Since the 15th century, this canopy has usually taken the form of a luxurious canopy on its own, supported by small columns that rise above the feet or the corners of the bed. On the other hand, in particularly warm places, the beds were made of good heat-conducting materials to avoid being surrounded by insulating material at night and to better dissipate body heat. The perfection of modern springs and mattresses has eliminated the need for the heavy wooden grids required by the rope flooring of 19th century beds.

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