18 Annotations

vicente   Link to this

sample Before we leave to discourse of the Casualties, we shall add something concerning that greatest Disease, or Casualty of all, The Plague.
There have been in London, within this Age, four Times of great Mortality, that is to say, the years 1592, and 1593, 1603, 1625, and 1636.
death toll: Anno 1636 from April to December... 23359
Whereof of the Plague .... 10400

Terry F   Link to this

Great Plague of London
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The Great Plague (1665-1666) was a massive outbreak of disease in England that killed 75,000 to 100,000 people, up to a fifth of London's population. The disease is generally believed to have been bubonic plague, an infection by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted via a rat vector. Other symptom patterns of the bubonic plague, such as septicemic plague and pneumonic plague were also present....This episode of plague in Britain is thought to have arrived with Dutch trading ships carrying bales of cotton from Amsterdam. The disease had occurred intermittently in the Netherlands since 1654." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Plague_of_Lo...

Terry F   Link to this

John Graunt's "Bills of Mortality", cited above by vicente, was published in 1662. http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/Graunt/bills.html
The next outbreaks of plague of concern to the British in late 1663 were those feared to be found aboard Dutch trading ships from Amsterdam. "The disease had occurred intermittently in the Netherlands since 1654." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Plague_of_Lo...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Since the plague has begun its entry on stage...

Here's a picture of the little bugger.


and a nice description of its life/infection cycle.


Robert Gertz   Link to this

And here's some look at how they identify y.pestis in those ancient corpses...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

And a link to an article by one of the champions of an alternate theory on the plague, (namely that the spread of the epidemic and environmental conditions strongly suggest it was not y. pestis but a virus), Justin Champion (I know, I know)


Robert Gertz   Link to this

And a bit on the heroic village, Eyam, which isolated its population to save the rest of country England...


Robert Gertz   Link to this

Likewise arguing against the y. pestis...In this case that other diseases (cholera) must have been involved with y.p., Graham Twigg. (I have to say I've found his argument on temperature unconvincing). http://www.history.ac.uk/cmh/epitwig.html

A cautionary short note by medical historian RS Roberts on accepting early accounts of the plagues at face value... http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender....

(I had a similar discussion with the listserv group of the American Society for Microbiology... In short we need a better system for properly defining and catagorizing plague descriptions from the 17th century back, especially from the 14th century. Too many accounts were not only copied by multiple hands across the centuries with loads of error and details added often for effect but then were compiled in the 19th century by historians and antiquarians with little or no medical training who added their own distortions. Many articles and books we read on the ancient and medieval plagues today are therefore badly flawed in their source materials-so read them with a grain of salt...and one rule of thumb: The more certain they are as to the causes of plague, the more likely they are not doing the details.)

That said one of the best accounts of the 1665 plague is of course a work of fiction, Defoe's "Journal of the Plague Year" http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/d/defoe/da...

And finally, some background by Steven Greenberg, medical historian, on public health measures available at the time, along with the interesting argument that the Stuart regimes were quite active in trying to increase public awareness of plague http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi... I hope to include one of the articles discussing anthrax as a possible co-culprit.

JWB   Link to this

The Great Plague of London, 1665
Harvard Univ. Library Open Collections Program

CGS   Link to this

cures : modern for our pets , still use some of those mentioned in the Harvard Letters [ see MR]:
The dog collar was not invented yet .
some of the modern flea modification:

"dark brewer's yeast, garlic, .....

peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil, thyme oil and eugenol.....
of rosemary and cedar oil.....Cedarwood, Citronella and Rue.[ oils of Pennyroyal, Eucalyptus,not available then]....
now morph into
Pyrethrins are natural extracts made from flowers of chrysanthemum plants.
Citrus extracts, [contain d-Limonene or linalool.]
amongst other chemical derivatives
see other comments


CGS   Link to this

A good account:
"...It was the month of May that the plaque was first notice of;..."
bills of mortality. 9, then 8 , then 9, then 3 then 14 then 17, then 43............
first week of June 43 to 112 then 168 then 470
pg 9.

Terrible voice in the city by Br. Thomas Vincent See Wikipedia

Sjoerd   Link to this

For a Lecture (text & video) on the subject by Stephen Porter, Assistant Editor, Survey of London Section, English Heritage. Author of The Great Plague.



dirk   Link to this

For the 17th century concept of contagion, and its application to the Plague, see:
"The Emergence and Development of the Notion of Contagion, by F. Gonzalez-Crussi, MD, 2000"

Cf also the annotations on:

cgs   Link to this

notes from DeFoe at Guttenburg etexts

, whither, they say, it was brought (some said from
Italy, others from the Levant) among some goods which were
brought home by their Turkey fleet; others said it was brought
from Candia; others, from Cyprus. It mattered not from whence
it came; but all agreed it was come into Holland again.[4]......


Michael Robinson   Link to this

Distinct Clones of Yersinia pestis Caused the Black Death
PLoS Pathog. 2010 October; 6(10): e1001134.

For an 'ordinary language' summary:

Michael Robinson   Link to this

Recipe for 'Plague Water' (1683)

Hannah Woolley.
The compleat servant-maid; or, The young maidens tutor.
London, 1683. @ pp. 42-3

The Surfett of plague watter: good aga[i]nst any infectionus; d[is]eases & to drive any thing from the hart; it is to be made in [M]ay or [J]une:

Ta[ke] sage: saladine: rosemary: wormwood: Balme: rosasoles: mugwort: pympernell: scabious: egrimonye: rue: mint: scordium: cardus: Betonye: Dragon: cowslips Flowers: marigolds Flowers: of each a larg[e] han[d]full: tormentell rootes: angelico: alycompane: pyonye: zyduiary: lycorich: of each one o[u]nce: & a Lettel safron: [shred] the herbs well & smale: alltog[e]ther & bru[i]se the roots: steepe them all in a gallon of whit[e] wine: or sake [sack]. Sa[ck] is better: for 2 days & 2 nights: stir[r]ing them once a day: putt them in a earthen pott: & bee sure to stop is close: you may ma[ke] 2 stillfull of th[i]s quantetie if you please: or else one: destill it in a ordinary still (1): ta[ke] of the first running one pint: of the second running one quart: of the Last one pint: which is the fittest for chillderinge: of the first 2 spoonfull will s[e]rve: of the second 4: of the Last for chilldren: 2 or 3 spoonefull: you may give it at any time: when you see o[c]catione: warme it a Lettel: & sweeten with sugar: when you use it: of with surrip of gilleFlours: or violetts: this is my Lady Shirleys: recipte


Michael Robinson   Link to this

Story peg for description of y-pestis mechanisms, behavior etc., with links to cited sources: 'Bubonic Plague in America, Part I: LA Outbreak'

Robert Gertz   Link to this

A recent update on the guilt or innocence of Y.pestis in the Black Death with info on relevant new papers. Verdict: Guilty.


Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.