Al Bundy of “Married with Children” fame often reminded us that the worst job in the world is selling women’s shoes. But after taking a gander at the historical record, we beg to differ. Luckily for him (and us), these jobs do not exist anymore.
Groom of the Stool
In medieval England, servants assisted monarchs in virtually everything—including providing royalty with “assistance” when it came time for the king in question to spend some time on the porcelain throne. These servants were known as the “grooms of the stool”, and it was they who would aid the king when nature called.
Although the job might sound demeaning to us, it was actually a very coveted position that often went to sons of noblemen. The groom of the stool spent a lot of time with the king, which meant that he was privy to the confessions of monarchs at their most vulnerable. As you might imagine, grooms of the stool would often be rewarded with land and titles.
Groom prestige reached its peak during the Tudor period. Henry VII’s servant, Hugh Denys, became a trusted fiscal policy advisor. Since then it became quite common for the groom of the stool to hold an unofficial position similar to that of treasurer. If you can handle shit, you can also handle a state’s finances, apparently.
The position was temporarily abolished in 1558, during the reign of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth replaced grooms of the stool with ladies of the bedchamber.