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  1. #1
    THR THR is offline

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    Rats not to blame for the Black Death

    It has been known for some time that it was more likely the fleas of the rats rather than the rats themselves which spread the plague in 1348-49 leading to the death of about 30% of the population in Europe.

    An interesting recent article on the issue which takes off the blame from the fleas as well:

    Black Death study lets rats off the hook | World news | The Guardian

    How much can the lack of any hygiene be attributed to a spread of plague as a city like London was already a very densely populated urbanised place already in the 14th century?
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  2. #2
    owedtojoy owedtojoy is offline
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    I remember a documentary a few years ago that proposed a respiratory infection like 'flu. Symptoms seemed to be aching bones, fever, flushed skin etc.

    But it was all inconclusive and the preponderant medical opinion was Bubonic Plague from rats, or rather rat fleas.

    Not only lack of hygiene but cramped conditions wound ensure any infectious disease would spread. But the deaths of rich and poor alike seems to point more towards flu.

    I remember reading that the native Irish survived the plague because of their customer of moving out to live in the country in summer, whereas the English colonists remained in the towns and died like flies.

    It is one of those mysteries that will continue to intrigue.
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  3. #3
    reknaw reknaw is offline

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    The Birmingham Six, the Maguire Seven, the Winchester Three, the Guildford Four, the Rottus norvegicus 100 million, and so on ---

    All framed!

    That's British justice for you. Nothing new here.

    Move along now, folks!
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  4. #4
    drummed drummed is offline
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    Bang up to date news. That's what we want from the internet.
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  5. #5
    Eric Cartman Eric Cartman is offline
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    It's odd, isn't it? Something as traumatic and terrible as the Black Death (actually referred to in contempory English as the 'great plague': die swartzer tot refers to a similar German plague that occurred some time afterwards and entered the English lexicon). The Black Death dramatically reduced the Norman French and English settler population in Ireland: by roughly 25-30% throughout Europe, perhaps even more here. When a minority like that suffers such a calamitous drop in numbers that results in the abandoment of manors and settlement outposts, as evidenced by the archeological record. Of course, the rot had set in before that: the high point in English-Norman power was just prior to the invasion of the Bruces and the battle of Faughert. They won the battle, but lost the war: The Gaels had adopted Continental weapons and tactics. The greater Lords had small, paid professional militias such as the bonnaghts ('permanents'), kerns ('warriors', footsoldiers) and Seirsinnigh ('sergeants', probably English or French-speaking mercenaries) and of course, Galloglass ('Grey foreigner' -the Gall glass. Scots).

    Still, the Black Death dramatically hastened the demise of the English power and confined English culture to the East coast and a small part of it at that. Their holocaust, our advantage?
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  6. #6
    pinemartin pinemartin is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by THR View Post
    It has been known for some time that it was more likely the fleas of the rats rather than the rats themselves which spread the plague in 1348-49 leading to the death of about 30% of the population in Europe.

    An interesting recent article on the issue which takes off the blame from the fleas as well:

    Black Death study lets rats off the hook | World news | The Guardian

    How much can the lack of any hygiene be attributed to a spread of plague as a city like London was already a very densely populated urbanised place already in the 14th century?
    the poster Mercurial will be pleased.
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  7. #7
    EvotingMachine0197 EvotingMachine0197 is offline
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    I would imagine that the nature of the water and sewage systems didn't help too much from the hygiene point of view.

    Wasn't there a hand pump somewhere in London which was responsible for hundreds of people dying from typhoid or something ? The water well and sewage drains were inter-whatstheword.
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  8. #8
    SeamusNapoleon SeamusNapoleon is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by EvotingMachine0197 View Post
    Wasn't there a hand pump somewhere in London which was responsible for hundreds of people dying from typhoid or something ?
    I dunno, but there was a nice lady from Tyrone who did much the same in New York!
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  9. #9
    pinemartin pinemartin is offline
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    Most of the reading ive done on the black deaths has always said that it was a mix of 3 different viruses Bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic Plague. It started in the far east and traveled to europe. described in ireland by john clyn of Kilkenny.


    John Clyn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  10. #10
    Norman Bates Norman Bates is offline
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    Served them right -- not washing their hands after going to the bathroom! UcK!
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