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Sun Mar 8, 2015, 06:49 PM

I'm watching an interesting doc about the plague on AHC.

That's American Heroes Channel. One historian came up with an ingenious way to get a better estimate of the number of plague deaths in London in the 1349. He used enrollment of wills at the charter house. Enrollment is what happens when the person who made the will dies, and the his property is distributed according to his wishes. There was a huge spike in enrollment of wills in 1349, and this historian now believes that about 60% of Londoners died -- about 5 million people during a nine-month period. Why nobody thought of looking through those records before, I don't know.

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Response to Brigid (Original post)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:01 PM

1. Once it really got going, there was no one left in a lot of households

to present the will and no one left at the charter house to record it. Whole households and whole neighborhoods were simply not there any more once the plague rolled through. Death rates are estimated to be 90% in some rural towns.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:17 PM

6. That's because it got into the lungs and became pneumonic plague.

Much easier to spread person to person. People would go over to help neighbors who were dick, get sick themselves, and spread it to their families. I guess it took a little while for people to figure out that they needed to stay away from each other.

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Response to Brigid (Original post)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:05 PM

2. I would like to recommend a book to you - A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, by

 

Barbara Tuchman. I thought it would be dry, but I found it fascinating.
Barbara Tuchman also wrote The Guns of August.

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Response to djean111 (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:08 PM

3. I gotta read that sometime.

Fourteenth-century Britain must have been a pretty insane place.

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Response to Brigid (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:16 PM

5. For starters, if one Lord attacked another Lord's peasants, the peasants were not killed, but

 

had arms or feet chopped off, so that their owner would have to lose money taking care of them, while they could not work in the fields. A lot of the really nasty stuff reminds me ofr present day. Just different weapons.
Oh, it is medieval Europe, not just England.

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Response to Brigid (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 09:44 PM

10. Didn't "Ring Around the Rosie" the children's song come from that era?

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Response to Brigid (Original post)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:15 PM

4. The plague in Florence in the 14th century was a big cause of the early Italian Renaissance.

Fewer people meant that survivors had more money, thus more food and better lives. They had money to spend on such things as art and created a "market" for artists in Florence. The artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello flocked there to work. It was a grand outpouring of genius and beauty that was unprecedented. If it weren't for the plague, there would not have been that which we now call the Renaissance.

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:29 PM

8. The loss of faith in magic was also a big factor

in the Reformation and eventually the Enlightenment. The church had been utterly powerless before the plague, a single book and prayers in Latin doing nothing for either priests or laity, all were vulnerable and all died.

In fact, all human progress over the last 7 centuries is due to Yersinia pestis and the complete social and economic collapse that followed it.

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Response to Brigid (Original post)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:17 PM

7. I saw a doc a few years back that used records to focus on one street in London.

So instead of talking about numbers they talked about individual people, and their jobs and their economic circumstances and when and how they died, or got sick and survived, and what became of the ones who made it.

It was heartbreaking. I'll see if I can find it.

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Response to Brigid (Original post)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 09:41 PM

9. There must have been a lot of poor people who did not have a will and do not show up in that

count.

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