Filthy Europeans

In another dialogue on an entirely different website, someone stated that Europeans after the fall of Rome right up to the Renaissance were incredibly filthy. I was about to accuse him of anti-white racism and had just started typing when I suddenly remembered that James Clavell talks about this in his historical novel, Shogun. Then I also remembered that Unca Cecil had done a column on how filthy the Europeans had been until relatively recently, but I can’t seem to find that column on the Straight Dope website. I recall reading about this in a couple of other places but not where I read it.

So if there are any history buffs out there reading this, help me out here, guys. Just how filthy did the medieval Europeans get? Why did they neglect their hygiene so badly? Didn’t it have something to do with Christianity’s excessive contempt for the physical body? And what specific sources of information can I find about this?