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Bolezen v 14. stoletju (razredna dejavnost)

Bolezen v 14. stoletju (razredna dejavnost)


Veliko zdravljenja v 14. stoletju je temeljilo na idejah, ki so jih razvili Grki in Rimljani. Najpomembnejši vidik tega je bila teorija štirih humorjev. Trdili so, da ima telo štiri čute: kri, sluz, rumeni žolč in črni žolč. Ti zvoki so bili povezani z različnimi deli telesa in so imeli različne lastnosti: kri (srce: vroče in vlažno); sluz (možgani: hladni in vlažni); rumeni žolč (jetra: vroč in suh) in črni žolč (vranica: hladen in suh).

Veljalo je, da ko je nekdo bolan, štirje zvoki v telesu niso enakomerno uravnoteženi. Pacientu so običajno svetovali počitek, da bi telesu omogočil ponovno vzpostavitev naravnega ravnovesja. Če to ni bilo uspešno, se je bolnikova prehrana spremenila. Na primer, če bi bolnika ohladilo, bi mu dali toplo hrano.

Če sprememba prehrane ne bi dosegla uspeha in je bil bolnik dokaj uspešen, bi poklicali kirurga. Če pacient ni imel veliko denarja, se je brivec-kirurg (neobučen zdravnik, ki je večino svojega časa strigel) bi se namesto tega uporabil.

Kirurg bi bolnika pregledal in če bi bil bolj vroč kot običajno, bi trdili, da je v telesu preveč krvi. Rešitev tega problema je bila odstraniti nekaj krvi z odpiranjem pacientovih žil z nožem. Poleg prepuščanja krvi bi lahko kirurgi izvajali tudi manjše operacije in se ukvarjali s preprostimi zlomi kosti.

Smrt zaradi bolezni je bil stalen strah ljudi, ki živijo v srednjem veku. Verjetno jih je najbolj prizadela gobavost. Čeprav ni vedno ubijal svojih žrtev, so bile posledice gobavice grozljive. Udi in obrazne poteze so počasi odginile in obraz je sčasoma postal strašno popačen. Ljudje, ki trpijo zaradi te bolezni, so bili zelo slabo obravnavani. "Prepovedani so jim bili vsi normalni družbeni stiki in so postali tarča šokantnih obredov izključevanja. Poročiti se nista mogla, prisiljena sta se obleči v izrazito obleko in zvoniti, da opozarjata na njihov pristop."

V zgodnjem srednjem veku so bile tudi bolnišnice. Vendar so jih uporabljali predvsem za izolacijo in ne za zdravljenje bolnih. Ko so ljudje odšli v bolnišnico, so jim dali lastnino, saj ni bilo pričakovati, da bodo preživeli.
Eden glavnih načinov spopadanja z boleznijo v srednjem veku je bila molitev. Veljalo je, da ljudi, ki trpijo zaradi bolezni, Bog verjetno kaznuje za grehe, ki so jih storili v preteklosti.

Zdravniki so se zavedali, da je pomembno zgraditi znanje o bolezni. Znanstveniki so pridobili kopije knjig, ki so jih napisali zdravniki v drugih državah, in jih dali prevesti v angleščino. To je bil pomemben razvoj, saj so bile v preteklosti medicinske knjige v Angliji na voljo le v latinščini, kar je omejevalo število ljudi, ki so jih znali brati.

Na ta način so se posredovale informacije o uspešnem zdravljenju bolezni. Tako je na primer velika bolnišnica v Parizu Hotel Dieu uvedla nov pristop k obravnavi bolnikov. Bolnišnico so razdelili na oddelke. Vsak oddelek se je spopadel z različnimi težavami. Ljudje s polomljenimi kostmi bi se zdravili na enem oddelku, drugi pa na nalezljivih boleznih.

Hotel Dieu je zelo skrbel za higieno. Vsi pacienti so nosili čiste obleke in se redno kopali. Tako kot v vseh bolnišnicah so bolniki še vedno spali tri do štiri na postelji, vendar so rjuhe menjali vsak teden. Tla v oddelkih so bila čista, stene pa so bile oprane z apnom.

Informacije o uspešnem zdravljenju pacientov v hotelu Dieu so se kmalu razširile v druge države. Kmalu so začeli zdravniki uvajati podobne reforme v svoje bolnišnice.

V zelo vročem vremenu se flebotomija (prepuščanje krvi) ne sme izvajati, ker glas hitro izteče kot slab. Tudi flebotomije ne bi smeli izvajati v zelo hladnem vremenu, ker se dobre sline v telesu stisnejo in jih je težko izvleči, dobro pa je prišlo hitreje kot slabo ... Če je kri črna, jo odvlecite, dokler ne postane rdeča . Če je debel, dokler se ne razredči: če je voden, dokler ne postane debel ... Flebotomija razbistri um, okrepi spomin, očisti želodec, izostri sluh, razvije čute, spodbudi prebavo, ustvari glasbeni glas, hrani kri, jo reši strupenih snovi in ​​prinaša dolgo življenje. Znebi se bolezni, zdravi bolečine, vročino in različne bolezni.

Gobavost je postala zelo stigmatizirana. Prepovedali so jim vse običajne družbene stike in postali tarče šokantnih obredov izključevanja. Niso se mogli poročiti, prisiljeni so bili v posebno obleko in zvonjenje, ki opozarja na njihov pristop ... Ločeni so bili v posebnih hišah zunaj mest ... Gobavost je predstavljala prizmo za krščansko razmišljanje o bolezni. Nič manj verska kot medicinska diagnoza, bila je povezana z grehom, zlasti s poželenjem, kar odraža domnevo, da se širi po spolu.

Znanje anatomije se pridobiva na dva načina; eden je po knjigah ... drugi način je z razčlenjevanjem trupel, in sicer tistih, ki so jim pred kratkim odrezali glavo ali jih obesili. Tako se naučimo anatomije notranjih organov, mišic, kože, žil in tetiv.

Robin Hoodu je položila krvavke
In prebil žilo in izpustil kri,
In potem tanka,
In potem sem vedel, da je notri izdaja.

Ko smo šli mimo Temze, smo na več mestih nabrali gnoj in drugo umazanijo. Opazili smo tudi hlape in druge grozne smradu ... Da bi ohranili čast mesta, ukazujemo, da nemudoma očistite bregove reke ter ulice in pasove mesta pred gnojem in drugo umazanijo. Javno je treba razglasiti, da nihče ne sme postavljati gnoja ali umazanije na ulice in steze.

Toliko gnoja in umazanije ... pa tudi mrtve zveri ... je v jarkih, rekah in drugih vodah ... zrak je zelo pokvarjen ... Veliko neznosnih bolezni se dnevno zgodi ... na veliko nadlogo, škoda in nevarnost prebivalcev, prebivalcev, serviserjev in popotnikov ... Ves gnoj, smeti, drobovje in druge neprijetne vonjave v jarkih, rekah, vodah ... bomo odstranili in odnesli ... ob bolečinah, ki jih moramo izgubiti in zaseči naše Gospod kralj 20 funtov.

Vse londonske ulice so tako slabo tlakovane, da se ob najmanjši količini vode zmočijo, kar se zgodi zelo pogosto ... zaradi dežja, ki ga je na tem otoku veliko. Nato nastane velika količina blata, ki diši po zlu, ki ne izgine hitro, ampak traja dolgo, pravzaprav skoraj vse leto.

Vprašanja za študente

Vprašanje 1: Izberite odlomek iz virov, ki pomaga razložiti, kako so zdravniki razvili ideje o tem, kako zdraviti svoje paciente.

Vprašanje 2: Študijski viri iz te enote, ki ponujajo informacije o flebotomiji (prepuščanje krvi) in trefinaciji (operacija možganov). Pojasnite, kako so te terapije delovale.

Vprašanje 3: Kakšni so bili simptomi gobavosti? Zakaj zgodovinarji menijo, da vir 1 prikazuje človeka, ki trpi za gobavostjo?

Vprašanje 4: Izberite podatke iz virov, da pojasnite, zakaj je bil standard javnega zdravja v 14. stoletju tako slab.

Vprašanje 5: Leta 1159 je John of Salisbury komentiral: "Mi (učenjaki) smo kot palčki, ki sedijo na ramenih velikanov. Vidimo več in stvari, ki so bolj oddaljene, kot so, ne zato, ker je naš vid boljši ali ker smo višji od njih, ampak zato, ker nas dvignejo in s svojo veliko postavo dodajo naše. " Na primeru povečanja medicinskega znanja v srednjem veku razložite, kaj je mislil s to izjavo.

Odgovor Komentar

Komentar na ta vprašanja najdete tukaj.


Bolezen v 14. stoletju (razredna dejavnost) - Zgodovina

Ta spletna stran ponuja tematski pristop zadnjih 3000 let v zgodovini medicine, ki daje poudarek proučevanju materialne kulture. Vsaka tema je sestavljena iz eseja, ki sledi kontinuitetam in spremembam skozi čas, vgrajen s povezavami do sorodnih predmetov in biografskimi opisi omenjenih oseb ter poglobljenimi informacijami o štirih podtemah in interaktivni funkciji.

Teme vključujejo: verovanje in medicina, rojstvo in smrt, polemike in medicina, diagnoza, bolezni in epidemije, bolnišnice, duševno zdravje in bolezni, medicinska praksa, javno zdravje, znanost in medicina, kirurgija, tehnologija in medicina, medicinske tradicije, zdravljenja in ozdravitve , razumevanje telesa ter vojne in medicine. Spletno mesto skupaj vsebuje skoraj 4000 označenih predmetov.

Materiali spletnega mesta ne predstavljajo velike pripovedi o medicinskem napredku ” z morebitnim “triumfom##8221 biomedicine v poznem 19. stoletju, temveč predstavljajo bolj niansiran pogled na kontinuiteto in spremembe v medicinski praksi. . Esej, ki spremlja temo “Verjenje in medicina ”, se na primer zaključuje s priznanjem, da čeprav je duhovni izvor bolezni v biomedicinski ustanovi padel na milost, je medicina vedno del sistemov prepričanj posebnih kultur in časa obdobja in je le eden od mnogih povezanih načinov, kako se ljudje srečujejo in razlagajo bolezen. ”

Materiali spletnih mest prav tako pozorno spremljajo zgodovino medicine zunaj zahodnih kontekstov. Na primer, uvodni odsek o tem, kaj pomeni biti dobro, študente izziva, da zgodovinsko in medkulturno razmišljajo o pojmih dobrega počutja in bolezni ter dobro izhodišče za kateri koli razred zgodovine medicine. Poudarja, da na ideje, ki nastanejo, ko ljudje postanejo "napolnjeni", vplivajo na primer razpoložljivi režimi zdravljenja, prerogacije zavarovalnic in delodajalcev ter duhovna prepričanja.

Toda v resnici je poudarek na spletnih straneh na predmetih in materialni kulturi tisti, ki tem idejam vdihne življenje. Skozi razdelek “verjenje in medicina ” na primer uporabnike usmerijo na 366 dobro fotografiranih in#8220 sorodnih predmetov. ” Če brskate po njih, odkrijete, da je bilo več uporabljenih za odganjanje zlobnega očesa ” — prepričanje, da lahko namerni in navidezni videz osebe ali občutek zavisti povzroči nesrečo, bolezen ali smrt. To vključuje ogrlico, izdelano iz “rokovih rok Fatime ” iz 19. stoletja, odkritih v Palestini, in kovinske, koralne in kostne amulete, ki prikazujejo gesto fige ali mano fike iz Italije iz 18. stoletja. Ob pogledu na te predmete, ki so dobro kontekstualizirani v eseju “verjenje in medicina ”, uporabniki vidijo, da bi jih tisti, ki jih krasijo s temi predmeti, lahko prejeli enako moč kot kateri koli biomedicinski poseg.

Oboroženi s tem spoznanjem bodo uporabniki morda začutili, da je treba te ideje jemati resno zgodovinsko, kulturno in biološko. Vse predmete je mogoče iskati po ključnih besedah ​​(na primer iskanje za “evil eye ” vrne te predmete) in jih je mogoče brskati po temi, kraju in osebi, zato jih je mogoče zlahka uvoziti v že obstoječe lekcije, osredotočene bodisi na eno geografsko regijo ali na medkulturne primerjave.

V kontekstu učilnice zgodovine ZDA bi bilo to spletno mesto lahko najbolj uporabno kot dopolnilo dodiplomskim tečajem iz zgodovine medicine, ki se vse pogosteje ponujajo v šolah po Združenih državah, saj število zgodovinskih oddelkov za znanost in medicino narašča. Ta gradiva bi lahko uporabili tudi za poglobitev tem in tematikam, ki jih pokrivajo tečaji svetovne zgodovine, kot so kulturne interakcije med družbami ali vpliv bolezni in medicinskih tehnologij na demografijo in okolje.

Za tiste, ki jih zanimajo drugi materiali, ki bi jih lahko uporabili neposredno v učilnici, vsaka tema vključuje “interaktivno funkcijo ” kratko aktivnost, ki zahteva nekaj vnosa uporabnika. Intelektualna globina in inovativna narava teh interaktivnih funkcij, ki jih je razumljivo težko oblikovati, različice#8212. Eden od študentov izzove zgodovinsko razmišljanje o logiki, ki stoji za zdravili in predpisi o kugi iz 14. stoletja. Brez ustreznih odrov pa bodo študentje preprosto ugibali, zakaj na primer predpisi o kugi državljanom prepovedujejo kopanje ali uživanje mesa.

“Moja zbirka ” dodatno olajša uporabo v učilnici. Uporabniki lahko ustvarijo račun, shranijo slike ter ustvarijo dokumente in kvize na podlagi predmetov.

odkrivanje svetovne zgodovine | razpakiranje dokazov | analiziranje dokumentov | učni viri | približno

Projekt Centra za zgodovino in nove medije Univerze George Mason,
s podporo Nacionalne fundacije za humanistične vede in Fundacije Gladys Krieble Delmas
& kopiraj Center za zgodovino 2003-2005 & amp new media


Vpliv podnebja na evropsko zgodovino

Vsi smo že slišali za zgodbo o Hanibalu, ki je prečkal Alpe - a je to točno? Leta 218 pr. Vsi sloni so preživeli to preizkušnjo. Je to mogoče?

Zdaj prihaja na dan več zgodbe. Nova študija, objavljena v reviji Science, iz leta v leto podaja natančno zgodovino podnebja v Evropi v zadnjih 2500 letih. Kot kaže študija, je bilo poleti 218 pr.n.št. vreme še posebej toplo. Zgodba o Hannibalovem prečkanju Alp pridobiva na verodostojnosti.

Tudi druge dogodke je mogoče preveriti glede na študijo in iz nje pridobiti nove argumente, s katerimi bi jih utrdili ali razveljavili: zakaj je prišlo do lakote, tavanja ljudi, epidemij in vojn? Pogosto so drastične spremembe vremena in podnebja vplivale na enako dramatične spremembe v zgodovini, pravijo zgodovinarji.

Raziskovalci Ulf Büntgen iz švicarskega okoljskega raziskovalnega inštituta WSL v Bernu in Jan Esper z Univerze v Mainzu so razvrstili podatke, ki jih vsebuje skoraj 9.000 kosov lesa - in predstavljali edinstven podnebni arhiv. Obroči nas obveščajo o preteklem vremenu: vsako leto drevesa dodajo nov obroč, katerega širina daje dragocene podatke o temperaturi in padavinah - odvisno od lokacije, kjer je drevo raslo.

Najpomembnejši rezultati študije so:

* Zgodovinske dobe se ujemajo s podnebnimi cikli: razcvet rimskega cesarstva in nemškega cesarstva je sovpadal s toplimi obdobji, v slabih časih, kot so vdori, kuga in tridesetletna vojna, v slabih podnebnih razmerah.
*Srednja Evropa je v rimskih časih in v visokem srednjem veku doživela topla obdobja, kot so današnja. Poletje leta 2003 pa ostaja izjemno: to je bilo najbolj vroče poletje v alpski regiji v 2500 letih.
* Količina padavin v Srednji Evropi se je v antiki in srednjem veku med letoma in letom precej bolj razlikovala kot danes, poleg tega so bile skrajnosti izrazitejše.

"Natančno usklajevanje podnebja in zgodovine je prepuščeno zgodovinarjem," pravi Ulf Büntgen. Vendar študija kaže izjemne vzporednice med vremenom in zgodovino. Vse, kar se je v teh 2500 letih zgodilo v Nemčiji in Evropi, je mogoče soočiti s podatki.

To je bil nov začetek po mrazu: ko je sredi prvega tisočletja pred našim štetjem Evropa izstopila iz zadnjega ledenega obdobja, so bile letne povprečne temperature v Evropi za eno do dve stopinji Celzija nižje kot danes.

Ko se je leta 300 pred našim štetjem vreme počasi popravljalo in je deževje postajalo vse močnejše, je Rimsko cesarstvo zacvetelo. Podnebje je pripomoglo k vzponu Rima. Donos pridelkov se je izboljšal, rudnike bi lahko odprli. Ko je bilo Alpe mogoče prečkati vse leto, je Severna Evropa postala dostopna in je bila absorbirana.

Samo od tega obdobja sta Büntgen in Esper s svojimi ekipami analizirala približno 550 vzorcev lesa. Iz širine obročev v hrastu berejo količino padavin spomladi in junija, iz obročev v škrinjah in borovcih poletne temperature. Ne morejo posredovati informacij o vremenu v drugih letnih časih, saj drevesa rastejo le poleti.

Vsak obroč se lahko natančno ujema z določenim letom. Za raziskovalce so zdaj na voljo serije datiranih drevesnih obročev preteklih tisočletij. Büntgen et al. so v te serije vgradili lastne vzorce.

Debla dreves za zgodovino padavin so dvigali večinoma v Nemčiji in vzhodni Franciji, na primer v strugah rek in v arheoloških izkopavanjih. Za arhiv temperature bi lahko upoštevali le drevesa na robovih gozdov, saj je njihova rast odvisna od temperature. Vsa druga drevesa so bolj odvisna od padavin.

Raziskovalci so uporabili le vzorce dreves iz alpske regije, vendar njihovi podatki veljajo tudi za velike dele Srednje Evrope, Francije, Italije in Balkana - kar kažejo primerjalne meritve temperature v XX stoletju.

Podatki kažejo od četrtega stoletja našega štetja do hudega poslabšanja podnebja: v srednji in južni Evropi je postalo hladno in suho. Zgodovinar govori o "podnebnem pesimumu tavanj ljudi, to je barbarskih vpadih". Seveda vedo, da so ga najprej sprožila tavanja Hunov, ki so na pot pripeljala Nemce, Gote in druga ljudstva. Ugotovljeno pa je, da so podnebne pomanjkljivosti pridelkov, lakota in epidemije naredile selitve nujnejše tudi za Hune.

Temperature so se še naprej zniževale, padavine pa so se še naprej zmanjševale. Posledica je bila erozija zgornjih tal, polja so dala vedno manj. Deževje se je vrnilo v četrtem stoletju, vendar je vreme ostalo hladno in ledeniki so se povečevali.

Najhujšo krizo smo v Evropi doživeli v letih 536 do 546, ko so poletne temperature padle na rekordno nizke vrednosti. "Naši podatki za te čase kažejo izjemno depresijo, ki traja desetletje," pravi Büntgen. Nedavno so geologi predlagali, da je bil vzrok morda meteorit ob obali Avstralije.

V šestem stoletju se je kriza nadaljevala, evropsko prebivalstvo je "padlo na najnižjo raven, ki ga nikoli več ne bo mogoče doseči", pravi zgodovinar Wolfgang Behringer z Univerze v Saarbrückenu v Saarlandu. Arheologi so v Evropi našli veliko zapuščenih naselij. Analiza cvetnega prahu kaže močno umikanje kmetijstva, napredovanje gozdov.

Kot kažejo novi podnebni podatki, so bili to ledeni časi. Posledice so bile grozne: v letu lakote 784 je morda umrla tretjina prebivalstva Evrope. "Bilo je precej hladno poletje," pravi Büntgnova diagnoza. "Z upadom podnebja v Evropi niso umrli samo pridelki, ampak tudi živina," pravi zgodovinar Behringer. Vsak izpad pridelka je povzročil lakoto. Hladu je bila v devetem stoletju dodana vlaga: neskončno deževje je pripravilo tla za epidemije, kot je gobavost.

To je bil čas volkov. Lakota jih je pripeljala v srednjo Evropo, saj se je v njihovi domovini Rusiji tudi podnebje precej poslabšalo. Zveri so krožile po vaseh. "Boj proti zoprnim živalim se je nadaljeval z vsem možnim orožjem, pastmi, lovom, strupom," pravi Behringer. Karel Veliki je ukazal ustanoviti enote lovcev na volkove v vseh okrožjih. V letu lakote 843 se je v nedeljo v francoskem mestu Senonnais razbil volk. Büntgen potrjuje: "843 je bilo hladnejše kot leta pred ali po tem."

Sredi desetega stoletja se je podnebje obrnilo na bolje, naselil se je podnebni optimum v srednjem veku. Novi podatki kažejo, da so se temperature v Evropi povzpele na enakopravnost s tistimi, ki so bile ponovno vidne šele v dvajsetem stoletju . Drevesna vrsta v Alpah je bila marsikje celo višja kot danes, vino pa so gojili bolj severno kot na začetku 21. stoletja. Začel se je čas odkritij: Vikingi so pripluli čez Grenlandijo v Ameriko.

Kmetijstvo si je opomoglo, lakota je postala redkejša. V 150 letih se je število prebivalcev v Evropi povečalo za tretjino. Pod cesarji Hohenstaufen je nemško cesarstvo doseglo vrhunec: Friderik II. prebivali na Siciliji. Na njegovem dvoru so filozofi, znanstveniki in umetniki mešali misli in govor je postal svobodnejši. Tudi iz Arabije so prišli znanstveniki, ki so ohranili in razvili dragoceno znanje iz antike. Arhitektura se je spremenila: gotska katedrala je bila opremljena z ogromnimi okni, ki so izkoristila sončno svetlobo.

Glede na nove podatke je treba nekatere zgodovinske zapise ponovno pretehtati. V Nürnbergu leta 1022 en hamburger trdi, da "se ljudje zaradi hude vročine zrušijo in umrejo od žeje na ulicah." Poleti 1022 pa ni bilo posebej vroče, pravi Büntgen. Pretiravanje? Ali pa je bila brutalna vročina tako kratka, da se ni registrirala v drevesnih obročih? Drugi dogodki najdejo razlago in potrditev: leta 1135 je na primer padlo zelo malo dežja, kar potrjuje poročila, da je Donava skoraj izsušila. Prebivalci Regensburga v Nemčiji so to izkoristili za izgradnjo velikega Kamnitega mostu, ki je še danes simbol svojega mesta.

Preverjajo se tudi drugi znaki: 9. septembra 1302 so v Alzaciji zmrznili vinogradi, po zelo mrzli zimi pa so kmetje v Nemčiji 2. maja 1303 ugotovili, da so vse njihove zaloge semena zamrznjene. Niso še vedeli, kako slabe bodo stvari.

Novi podnebni podatki so nepremagljivi zapisi o velikanski katastrofi, ki je preplavila Evropo. Prikazujejo v 14. stoletju pojav številnih mrzlih poletjev. Leta 1314 je nanj prišlo diluvijsko deževje in ostra zima.

Za podatki se pojavljajo kruti dogodki: začelo se je z izgubo pridelka zaradi vremena. Od leta 1315 do 1335 je "velika lakota" desetkovala prebivalstvo. Leta 1315 so pojedli konje in pse. 1346 in 1347 sta bili še posebej hladni, vino je zmrznilo, zrnje je zgnilo. Oslabljeno prebivalstvo je zmanjšalo odpor proti epidemijam: verjetno je s Kitajske prišla "črna smrt". Med letoma 1346 in 1352 je umrlo polovica prebivalstva Evrope.

Južno od Alp so temperature padale manj strmo. Morda je bil to eden od razlogov, zakaj bi lahko tam cvetela renesansa ("preporod"). Antični filozofi so spet prišli v čast, razvilo se je bančništvo in meščanstvo se je lahko z novo odkrito samozavestjo pomerilo s plemstvom.

Renesansi ni bilo lahko prečkati Alp. Na severu je še vedno vladala temna moč prepričanja. Cerkev je za slabe pridelke in bolezni krivila čarovnice, ženske pa so v velikem številu sežgale na grmadi. Leta 1524 so se kmetje uprli plemstvu.

Vedno hladneje je postajalo. Začela se je ledena doba. Okrog 17. stoletja je Evropa utrpela hudo lakoto. Leta 1709 je vreme pospešilo eno najhujših katastrof: v "krutem hladnem valu leta 1709" so reke zamrznile celo na Portugalskem, palme v južni Evropi so bile pokrite s snegom. Reke so nosile množice zamrznjenih rib, govedo je zamrznilo v hlevu, mrtvi jeleni so ležali na poljih, ptice pa naj bi padle kot zmrznjene grude z neba. Poleti 1710 so moške videli, da se »pasejo« na poljih »kot ovce«, pravijo kronike.

Razsvetljenstvo je spremljalo segrevanje podnebja. "Lakoto so zdaj obravnavali kot posledico slabega upravljanja," pravi Behringer. Kmetje so se lotili kolobarjenja pridelkov, namakanje je bilo izboljšano, zgrajene so bile boljše ceste in nasipi, posušena so barja. Agrarna revolucija je poskrbela, da je lakota postala redkejša. "

Te izboljšave niso pomagale proti lakoti sredi 19. stoletja (irska lakota), ki jo je povzročila kratka recesija v podnebju.

Strokovnjaki se že dolgo ne strinjajo glede prihodnjih posledic podnebnih sprememb: ali bodo spremembe prinesle nove katastrofe ali gre za dobro segrevanje? "Hitre podnebne spremembe imajo pogosto resne, negativne učinke na družbe," pravi Ulf Büntgen. Novi podatki bodo zgodovinarjem dali bogato gradivo za odkrivanje in preučevanje takšnih povezav.


Kuga, lakota in nenadna smrt: 10 nevarnosti srednjeveškega obdobja

To je bilo eno najbolj vznemirljivih, burnih in transformativnih obdobij v zgodovini, vendar je bil tudi srednji vek poln nevarnosti. Zgodovinarka dr. Katharine Olson razkriva 10 največjih tveganj, s katerimi se soočajo ljudje ...

To tekmovanje je zdaj zaprto

Objavljeno: 10. julij 2020, ob 16.00

Kuga

Kuga je bila eden največjih morilcev srednjega veka - v 14. in 15. stoletju je imela uničujoč učinek na prebivalstvo Evrope. Znana tudi kot črna smrt, kuga (povzročila jo je bakterija imenovana Yersinia pestis) so ga nosile bolhe, ki jih najpogosteje najdemo na podganah. V Evropo je prispela do leta 1348, na tisoče pa jih je umrlo na mestih od Italije, Francije in Nemčije do Skandinavije, Anglije, Walesa, Španije in Rusije.

Smrtonosna bubonska kuga je po celem telesu povzročila otekanje (buboje). Pri septikemični kugi so žrtve trpele zaradi kože, ki je bila temno obarvana (počrnila) zaradi toksinov v krvnem obtoku (eden od razlogov, zakaj se je kuga pozneje imenovala "črna smrt"). Izjemno nalezljivo pljučno kugo bi lahko okužili zgolj s kihanjem ali pljuvanjem in povzročili, da bi se pljuča žrtev napolnila.

Črna smrt je ubila med tretjino in polovico prebivalstva Evrope. Sodobniki seveda niso vedeli, kaj je povzročilo kugo oziroma kako se je izogniti. Razlago za krizo so iskali v Božji jezi, človeškem grehu in tujih/obrobnih skupinah, zlasti Judih. Če ste bili okuženi z bubonsko kugo, ste imeli v naslednjem tednu 70-80 -odstotno možnost, da umrete. V Angliji bi lahko od vsakih sto ljudi približno 35–40 pričakovalo smrt zaradi kuge.

Zaradi kuge je bila pričakovana življenjska doba v Firencah v poznem 14. stoletju slaba 20 let-polovica tistega, kar je bilo leta 1300. Od sredine 14. stoletja dalje je na tisoče ljudi iz vse Evrope-od Londona in Pariz do Genta, Mainza in Siene - umrl. Veliko število so bili otroci, ki so bili najbolj ranljivi za bolezen.

Preberi več

Potovanje

Ljudje so se v srednjem veku med potovanjem soočali s številnimi potencialnimi nevarnostmi.

Varno in čisto mesto za spanje na zahtevo je bilo težko najti. Popotniki so pogosto morali spati na prostem - med potovanjem pozimi so tvegali, da bodo zmrznili. Medtem ko je potovanje v skupinah zagotavljalo nekaj varnosti, bi ga lahko še vedno oropali ali ubili neznanci - ali celo sopotniki.

Niti hrane in pijače ni bilo zagotovljeno, razen če je popotnik našel gostilno, samostan ali drugo prenočišče. Zastrupitev s hrano je bila že takrat tveganje in če vam je zmanjkalo hrane, ste morali krmiti, krasti ali biti lačni.

Srednjeveški popotniki so lahko ujeti tudi v lokalne ali regionalne spore ali vojskovanje ter jih poškodovali ali vrgli v zapor. Pomanjkanje znanja tujih jezikov bi lahko povzročilo tudi težave pri tolmačenju.

Bolezni in bolezni so lahko tudi nevarni in celo usodni. Če bi se nekdo na cesti počutil slabo, ni bilo zagotovila, da bi lahko prejeli dostojno ali celo kakršno koli zdravljenje.

Poslušajte: Elma Brenner iz knjižnice Wellcome preučuje stanje zdravstvenega varstva v srednjem veku in razkriva nekaj nenavadnih zdravil, ki so bila na voljo ljudem s poškodbami ali boleznimi:

Popotniki so lahko tudi žrtve nesreče. Na primer, obstajalo je tveganje utopitve pri prečkanju rek - celo sveti rimski cesar Friderik I. se je utopil leta 1190 pri prečkanju reke Saleph med tretjim križarskim pohodom. Ob prihodu se lahko zgodijo tudi nesreče: v jubileju leta 1450 je v Rimu prišlo do katastrofe, ko je okoli 200 ljudi v množici, ki je prečkala veliki most Sant ’Angelo, padlo čez rob in se utopilo.

Čeprav je bilo potovanje po morju hitrejše kot po kopnem, je stopanje na čoln predstavljalo precejšnje tveganje: nevihta bi lahko pomenila katastrofo ali pa bi se navigacija lahko zmotila, srednjeveške lesene ladje pa niso bile vedno enake izzivom morja. Vendar je v poznem srednjem veku potovanje po morju postajalo hitrejše in varnejše kot kdaj koli prej.

Povprečen popotnik v srednjem veku je lahko pričakoval, da bo prehodil 15–25 milj na dan peš ali 20–30 na konju, medtem ko bi lahko jadrnice prevozile 75–125 milj na dan.

Lakota

Lakota je bila zelo resna nevarnost za srednjeveške moške in ženske. Zaradi slabega vremena in slabih letin se ljudje soočajo s krčenjem zalog hrane, ljudje so stradali ali komaj preživeli na skromnih obrokih, kot so lubje, jagodičje in slabša koruza in pšenica, poškodovana zaradi plesni.

Tisti, ki so jedli tako malo, so imeli podhranjenost in so bili zato zelo občutljivi na bolezni. Če niso umrli od lakote, so pogosto umrli zaradi epidemij, ki so sledile lakoti. Bolezni, kot so tuberkuloza, znojenje, črne koze, griža, tifus, gripa, mumps in okužbe prebavil, bi lahko in so res ubile.

Velika lakota v začetku 14. stoletja je bila še posebej huda: podnebne spremembe so privedle do precej hladnejših od povprečnih temperatur v Evropi od leta 1300 - "male ledene dobe". V sedmih letih med letoma 1315 in 1322 je bila v zahodni Evropi priča neverjetno močnim padavinam do 150 dni naenkrat.

Kmetje so se trudili saditi, gojiti in pobirati pridelke. Majhni pridelki so bili pogosto plesnivi in/ali strašno dragi. Zaradi tega je bil ogrožen glavni prehrambeni izdelek, kruh. To je prišlo hkrati z brutalno hladnim zimskim vremenom.

Vsaj 10 odstotkov - morda skoraj 15 odstotkov - ljudi v Angliji je umrlo v tem obdobju.

Porod

Danes je tveganje za mater in otroka med nosečnostjo in porodom ob prednosti ultrazvočnega slikanja, epidural in spremljanja ploda najnižje. Toda v srednjem veku je bilo rojstvo neverjetno nevarno.

Medeninaste predstavitve otroka med porodom so se pogosto izkazale za usodne tako za mater kot za otroka. Porod bi lahko trajal več dni, nekatere ženske pa so sčasoma umrle zaradi izčrpanosti. Čeprav so bili carski rezi znani, so bili nenavadni, razen takrat, ko je bila mati otroka že mrtva ali je umirala, in niso bili nujno uspešni.

Babice so se namesto usposobljenih zdravnikov običajno udeleževale nosečnic. Pomagali so bodoči materi med porodom in po potrebi lahko opravili nujni krst dojenčkov, ki jim grozi smrt. Večina jih ni bila formalno izobražena, vendar so se opirali na praktične izkušnje, pridobljene iz let rojstva otrok.

Nove matere bi lahko preživele porod, vendar bi lahko umrle zaradi različnih postnatalnih okužb in zapletov. Oprema je bila zelo osnovna, ročni poseg pa pogost. Status ni bil ovira za te težave - celo Jane Seymour, tretja žena Henrika VIII., Je umrla kmalu po tem, ko je leta 1537 rodila bodočega Edwarda VI.

Otroštvo in otroštvo

Otroštvo je bilo v srednjem veku še posebej nevarno - smrtnost je bila strašno visoka. Samo na podlagi preživelih zapisov so znanstveniki ocenili, da je umrlo 20–30 odstotkov otrok, mlajših od sedem let, vendar je dejanska številka skoraj zagotovo večja.

Dojenčki in otroci, mlajši od sedem let, so bili še posebej občutljivi na posledice podhranjenosti, bolezni in različnih okužb. They might die due to smallpox, whooping cough, accidents, measles, tuberculosis, influenza, bowel or stomach infections, and much more. The majority of those struck down by the plague were also children. Nor, with chronic malnutrition, did the breast milk of medieval mothers carry the same immunity and other benefits of breast milk today.

Being born into a family of wealth or status did not guarantee a long life either. We know that in ducal families in England between 1330 and 1479, for example, one third of children died before the age of five.

Bad weather

The vast majority of the medieval population was rural rather than urban, and the weather was of the utmost importance for those who worked or otherwise depended on the land. But as well as jeopardising livelihoods, bad weather could kill.

Consistently poor weather could lead to problems sowing and growing crops, and ultimately the failure of the harvest. If summers were wet and cold, the grain crop could be destroyed. This was a major problem, as cereal grains were the main food source for most of the population.

With less of this on hand, various problems would occur, including grain shortages, people eating inferior grain, and inflation, which resulted in hunger, starvation, disease, and higher death rates.

This was especially the case from the 14th through to the 16th centuries, when the ice pack grew. By 1550, there had been an expansion of glaciers worldwide. This meant people faced the devastating effects of weather that was both colder and wetter.

Medieval men and women were therefore eager to ensure that weather conditions stayed favourable. In Europe, there were rituals for ploughing, sowing seeds, and the harvesting of crops, as well as special prayers, charms, services, and processions to ensure good weather and the fertility of the fields. Certain saints were thought to protect against the frost (St Servais), have power over the wind (St Clement) or the rain and droughts (St Elias/Elijah) and generally the power of the saints and the Virgin Mary were believed to protect against storms and lightning.

People also believed the weather was not merely a natural occurrence. Bad weather could be caused by the behaviour of wicked people, like murder, sin, incest, or family quarrels. It could also be linked to witches and sorcerers, who were thought to control the weather and destroy crops. They could, according to one infamous treatise on witches – the Malleus Maleficarum, published in 1486 – fly in the air and conjure storms (including hailstorms and tempests), raise winds and cause lightning that could kill people and animals.

Violence

Whether as witnesses, victims or perpetrators, people from the highest ranks of society to the lowest experienced violence as an omnipresent danger in daily life.

Medieval violence took many forms. Street violence and brawls in taverns were not uncommon. Vassals might also revolt against their lords. Likewise, urban unrest also led to uprisings – for example, the lengthy rebellion of peasants in Flanders of 1323–28, or the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 in England.

Medieval records demonstrate the presence of other types of violence also: rape, assault and murder were not uncommon, nor was accidental homicide. One example is the case of Maud Fras, who was hit on the head and killed by a large stone accidentally dropped on her head at Montgomery Castle in Wales in 1288.

Blood feuds between families that extended over generations were very much evident. So was what we know today as domestic violence. Local or regional disputes over land, money or other issues could also lead to bloodshed, as could the exercise of justice. Innocence or guilt in trials were at times decided by combat ordeals (duels to the death). In medieval Wales, political or dynastic rivals might be blinded, killed or castrated by Welsh noblemen to consolidate their positions.

Killing and other acts of violence in warfare were also omnipresent, from smaller regional wars to larger-scale crusades from the end of the 11th century, fought by many countries at once. Death tolls in battle could be high: the deadliest clash of the Wars of the Roses, the battle of Towton (1461), claimed between 9,000 and 30,000 lives, according to contemporary reports.

Heresy

It could also be dangerous to disagree. People who held theological or religious opinions that were believed to go against the teachings of the Christian church were seen as heretics in medieval Christian Europe. These groups included Jews, Muslims and medieval Christians whose beliefs were considered to be unorthodox, like the Cathars.

Kings, missionaries, crusaders, merchants and others – especially from the late 11th century – sought to ensure the victory of Christendom in the Mediterranean world. The First Crusade (1096–99) aimed to capture Jerusalem – and finally did so in 1099. Yet the city was soon lost, and further crusades had to be launched in a bid to regain it.

Jews and Muslims also suffered persecution, expulsion and death in Christian Europe. In England, anti-Semitism resulted in massacres of Jews in York and London in the late 12th century, and Edward I banished all Jews from England in 1290 – they were only permitted to return in the mid-1600s.

From the eighth century, efforts were also made to retake Iberia from Muslim rule, but it was not until 1492 that the entire peninsula was recaptured. This was part of an attempt in Spain to establish a united, single Christian faith and suppress heresy, which involved setting up the Spanish Inquisition in 1478. As a result, the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, and Muslims were only allowed to stay if they converted to Christianity.

Holy wars were also waged on Christians who were widely considered to be heretics. The Albigensian Crusade was directed at the Cathars (based chiefly in southern France) from 1209–29 – and massacres and more inquisitions and executions followed in the later 13th and 14th centuries.

Hunting

Hunting was an important pastime for medieval royalty and the aristocracy, and skill in the sport was greatly admired. The emperor Charlemagne was recorded as greatly enjoying hunting in the early ninth century, and in England William the Conqueror sought to establish royal forests where he could indulge in his love of the hunt. But hunting was not without risks.

Hunters could easily be injured or killed by accidents. They might fall from their horse, be pierced by an arrow, be mauled by the horns of stags or tusks of boars, or attacked by bears.

Status certainly did not guarantee safety. Many examples exist of kings and nobles who met tragic ends as a result of hunting. The Byzantine emperor Basil I died in 886 after apparently having his belt impaled on the horns of a stag and being dragged more than 15 miles before being freed.

In 1100, King William II (William Rufus) was famously killed by an arrow in a supposed hunting accident in the New Forest. Likewise, in 1143, King Fulk of Jerusalem died in a hunting accident at Acre, when his horse stumbled and his head was crushed by his saddle.

Early or sudden death

Sudden or premature death was common in the medieval period. Most people died young, but death rates could vary based on factors like status, wealth, location (higher death rates are seen in urban settlements), and possibly gender. Adults died from various causes, including plague, tuberculosis, malnutrition, famine, warfare, sweating sickness and infections.

Wealth did not guarantee a long life. Surprisingly, well-fed monks did not necessarily live as long as some peasants. Peasants in the English manor of Halesowen might hope to reach the age of 50, but by contrast poor tenants in same manor could hope to live only about 40 years. Those of even lower status (cottagers) could live a mere 30 years.

By the second half of the 14th century, peasants there were living five to seven years longer than in the previous 50 years. However, the average life expectancy for ducal families in England between 1330 and 1479 generally was only 24 years for men and 33 for women. In Florence, laypeople in the late 1420s could expect to live only 28.5 years (men) and 29.5 years (women).

Dying a ‘good’ death was very important to medieval people, and was the subject of many books. People often worried about ‘sudden death’ (whether in battle, from natural causes, by execution, or an accident) and what would happen to those who died without time to prepare and receive the last rites. Written charms, for example, were thought to provide protection against sudden death – whether against death in battle, poison, lightning, fire, water, fever or other dangers.

Dr Katharine Olson is a lecturer in medieval and early modern history at Bangor University


Črna smrt

This inquiry is framed by the compelling question “Can disease change the world?” Among the many catastrophic global pandemics in history, perhaps none achieved the notoriety of the Black Death. The Black Death was a massive outbreak of the bubonic plague caused by infectious bacteria. Thought by scientists to have been spread by contaminated fleas on rats and/or other rodents, the Black Death quickly decimated entire families and communities. In doing so, the Black Death led more than one observer of the time to ponder whether the apocalypse had begun. The Black Death began and first spread on the Silk Roads through central Asia in the early 14th century, and by mid-century moved via merchant ships into North Africa and Europe, where it would kill nearly one-half of the population. It took almost 150 years for Europe’s population to recover. By investigating the compelling question “Can disease change the world?” students consider the causes, symptoms, and reasons for the rapid geographic expansion of the disease and how this pandemic affected people of the 14th century and beyond. Through their investigation of sources in this inquiry, students should develop an understanding of the consequences of the Black Death and an informed awareness of the importance of preparing for future diseases and possible pandemics.

Compelling Question:

Can Disease Change the World?

Staging the Question:

Supporting Question What was the Black Death?

Formative Task Write a description of the Black Death that includes its symptoms and where outbreaks occurred in Europe and Asia.

Sources Source A: Excerpts from Decameron
Source B: Illustration of the Black Death

Supporting Question How did the Black Death spread so quickly?

Formative Task Construct a diagram illustrating how the Black Death spread.

Sources Source A: Plague Ecology visual
Source B: Map depicting spread of the Black Death

Supporting Question How did the Black Death affect people in the 14th century?

Formative Task Create an annotated illustration depicting how the Black Death affected different groups of people in the 14th century.

Sources Source A: Bubonic plague statistics
Source B: Illustration of the persecution of Jews during the Black Death
Source C: Social and Economic Effects of the Plague


Pre-Columbian treponemal disease from 14th century AD Safed, Israel, and implications for the medieval eastern Mediterranean

In 1912, 68 medieval crania were excavated from a cave at Safed in the eastern Mediterranean and brought to the United Kingdom. It is only recently that these skulls have been studied for evidence of disease. One adult individual demonstrates multiple lesions of the cranial vault, compatible with treponematosis. Radiocarbon dating suggests the year of death to be between 1290–1420 AD. This range equates to the mamluk period, just after the crusades. This is the oldest dated case of treponematosis in the Middle East, and the first to confirm its presence there before the epidemiologically important transatlantic voyage of Christopher Columbus. The finding has significant implications for our understanding of the introduction of the disease to the Middle East and of the medieval diagnosis of ulcerating skin conditions by medical practitioners in the Mediterranean world. Am J Phys Anthropol 121:000–000, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


14th century Zodiac Man

The Zodiac Man or Man of Signs (homo signorum in Latin) is an age-old diagram that relates the calendar and the movement of the heavenly bodies to the human body. Sections of the body are labeled with the twelve zodiacal signs, beginning with Aries, which ruled the head, and ending with Pisces associated with the feet. This illustration demonstrates centuries of connections between astrology and human personality, health, sickness, and medical treatments. For example, Leo is associated with the heart because tradition says the strength the lion was located in its heart. Scorpio is associated with the genitals because a scorpion’s strength was located in its tail. While some of these diagrams were accompanied by a basic explanation of the associations between the body and the heavens, most did not, assuming these astrological theories governing health care were widely accepted and understood.

To learn more about the history of medicine and questionable cures, see Discovering Quacks, Utopias, and Cemeteries


4. Washing Hands and Surfaces

Washing your hands to reduce the spread of disease is an accepted part of hygiene now, but frequent hand washing was a bit of a novelty during the early 20th century. To encourage the practice, "powder rooms," or ground-floor bathrooms, were first installed as a way to protect families from germs brought in by guests and ubiquitous delivery people dropping off goods like coal, milk and ice. 

Previously, these visitors would have traveled through the home to use the bathroom, tracking outside germs with them. (Typhoid Mary infamously spread the disease from which she earns her nickname by not properly washing her hands before handling food.)

Germ theory was a relatively new concept brought to light in the mid-1800s by Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, and Robert Koch that held that disease was caused by microorganisms invisible to the naked eye. Having a sink on the ground floor made it easier to wash your hands upon returning home.

Speaking of health and design, there’s a reason why hospitals, subways and 1920s bathrooms were often tiled in pristine white: White tiles are easy to clean and make any dirt or grime highly visible.


Did the Black Death Rampage Across the World a Century Earlier Than Previously Thought?

For over 20 years, I’ve been telling the same story to students whenever I teach European history. At some point in the 14th century, the bacterium Yersinia pestis somehow moved out of the rodent population in western China and became wildly infectious and lethal to humans. This bacterium caused the Black Death, a plague pandemic that moved from Asia to Europe in just a few decades, wiping out one-third to one-half of all human life wherever it touched. Although the plague pandemic definitely happened, the story I’ve been teaching about when, where, and the history of the bacterium has apparently been incomplete, at best.

Sorodna vsebina

In December, the historian Monica Green published a landmark article, The Four Black Deaths, v American Historical Review, that rewrites our narrative of this brutal and transformative pandemic. In it, she identifies a “big bang” that created four distinct genetic lineages that spread separately throughout the world and finds concrete evidence that the plague was already spreading in Asia in the 1200s. This discovery pushes the origins of the Black Death back by over a hundred years, meaning that the first wave of the plague was not a decades-long explosion of horror, but a disease that crept across the continents for over a hundred years until it reached a crisis point.

As the world reels beneath the strains of its own global pandemic, the importance of understanding how humans interact with nature both today and throughout the relatively short history of our species becomes more critical. Green tells me that diseases like the plague and arguably SARS-CoV-2 ( before it transferred into humans in late 2019 causing Covid-19 ) are not human diseases, because the organism doesn’t rely on human hosts for reproduction (unlike human-adapted malaria or tuberculosis). They are zoonotic, or animal diseases, but humans are still the carriers and transporters of the bacteria from one site to the other, turning an endemic animal disease into a deadly human one.

The Black Death, as Monica Green tells me, is “one of the few things that people learn about the European Middle Ages.” For scholars, the fast 14th-century story contained what Green calls a “black hole.” When she began her career in the 1980s, we didn’t really know “when it happened, how it happened, [or] where it came from!” Now we have a much clearer picture.

“The Black Death and other pre-modern plague outbreaks were something everyone learned about in school, or joked about in a Monty Python-esque way. It wasn't something that most of the general public would have considered particularly relevant to modernity or to their own lives,” says Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America. But now, “with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, suddenly medieval plagues became relevant to everyone everywhere.”

The project that culminated in Green’s article unfolded over many years. She says that the first step required paleogenetic analysis of known victims of the plague, including a critical study 2011. Paleogenetics is the study of preserved organic material—really any part of the body or the microbiome, down to the DNA—of long dead organisms. This means that if you can find a body, or preferably a lot of bodies, that you’re sure died in the Black Death, you can often access the DNA of the specific disease that killed them and compare it to both modern and other pre-modern strains.

This has paid off in numerous ways. First, as scientists mapped the genome, they first put to rest long lingering doubts about the role Y. pestis played in the Black Death (there was widespread but unsubstantiated speculation that other diseases were at fault). Scientists mapped the genome of the bacterium and began building a dataset that revealed how it had evolved over time. Green was in London in 2012 just as findings on the London plague cemetery came out confirming without a doubt both the identity of the bacterium and the specific genetic lineage of the plague that hit London in June 1348. “The Black Death cemetery in London is special because it was created to accommodate bodies from the Black Death,” she says, “and then when [the plague wave] passed, they closed the cemetery. We have the paperwork!”

Green established herself as the foremost expert in medieval women’s healthcare with her work on a medical treatise known as The Trotula. Her careful analysis of manuscript traditions revealed that some of the text was attributable to a southern Italian woman, Trota. Other sections, though, revealed male doctors’ attempts to take over the market for women’s health. It’s a remarkable text that prepared Green for her Black Death project not only by immersing her in the history of medicine, but methodologically as well. Her discipline of philology, the study of the development of texts over time, requires comparing manuscripts to each other, building a stemma, or genealogy of texts, from a parent or original manuscript. She tells me that this is precisely the same skill one needs to read phylogenetic trees of mutating bacteria in order to trace the history of the disease.

Still, placing the Black Death in 13th-century Asia required more than genetic data. Green needed a vector, and she hoped for textual evidence of an outbreak. She is careful to add that, when trying to find a disease in a historical moment, the “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Her first step was to focus on a cute little rodent from the Mongolian steppe: the marmot.

Mongols hunted marmots for meat and leather (which was both lightweight and waterproof), and they brought their rodent preferences with them as the soon-to-be conquerors of Asia moved into the Tian Shan mountains around 1216 and conquered a people called the Qara Khitai (themselves refugees from Northern China). There, the Mongols would have encountered marmots who carried the strain of plague that would become the Black Death. Here, the “big bang” theory of bacterial mutation provides key evidence allowing us a new starting point for the Black Death. (To support this theory, her December article contains a 16-page appendix just on marmots!)

The phylogenetic findings were enough for Green to speculate about a 13th-century origin for the plague, but when it came to the mechanism of spread, all she had was conjecture—until she found a description of an outbreak at the end of the Mongol siege of Baghdad in 1258. Green is quick to note that she has relied on experts in many different languages to do this work, unsurprisingly since it traverses from China to the rock of Gibraltar, and from near the Arctic Circle to sub-Saharan Africa.

No one is expert in all the languages. What Green brought was a synthetic view that drew a narrative out of cutting-edge science and humanistic scholarship and the ability to recognize the significance of what she found when she opened a new translation of the Akhbār-i Moghūlān, oz Mongol News. This source was published for the first time in 2009 by the Iranian historian Iraj Afshar, but only translated into English in 2018 as The Mongols in Iran, by George Lane. The medieval Iranian source is something of a jumble, perhaps the surviving notes for a more organized text that didn’t survive. Still, the report on the Mongol siege, Green realized, held the key piece of evidence she’d been looking for. As she cites in her article, Mongol News describes pestilence so terrible that the “people of Baghdad could no longer cope with ablutions and burial of the dead, so bodies were thrown into the Tigris River.” But even more importantly for Green, Mongol News notes the presence of grain wagons, pounded millet, from the lands of the Qara Khitai.

Suddenly, the pieces fit together. “I’ve already got my eye on the Tian Shan mountains, where the marmots are,” she says, and of course marmot-Mongol interaction could cause plague there, but didn’t explain long-distance transmission. “The scenario I’m putting together in my head is some sort of spillover event. Marmots don’t hang around people. They’re wild animals that will not willingly interact with humans. So the biological scenario I had to come up with is whatever is in the marmots had to be transferred to another kind of rodent.”

With the grain supply from Tian Shan linked to plague outbreak in Baghdad, it’s easy to conjecture a bacterium moving from marmots to other rodents, those rodents riding along in grain, and the plague vector revealed. “That was my eureka moment,” she says.

She had put the correct strain of the bacteria at the right place at the right time so that one infected rodent in a grain wagon train revealed the means of distribution of plague.

“Throughout her career, Dr. Green has combined humanism and science in ways that have brought a more clear understanding of the origins and spread of plague,” says Davis, from the Medieval Academy. “Her collaborations with historians, geneticists, paleobiologists, archaeologists and others untangle the genetic complexities of plague strains.”

That kind of interdisciplinary work would have been significant to scholars at any moment, but right now takes on particular relevance. “[Green] has worked to undermine imprecise and simplistic plague narratives and to explain to a ready public the importance of understanding historic plagues in context,” adds Davis “[Her] voice has been critical as we try to make sense of our own modern-day plague.”

Green also sees the relevance, especially as her study of plague variants and pandemic came out just as new variants of the Covid-19 pathogen were manifesting around the world. She tells me that her work didn’t change because of Covid, but the urgency did. “Plague,” Green says, “is our best ‘model organism’ for studying the history of pandemics because the history of it is now so rich, with the documentary and archaeological record being supplemented by the genetic record. All the work the virologists were doing in sequencing and tracking SARS-CoV-2's spread and genetic evolution was exactly the same kind of work that could be done for tracking Yersinia pestis's evolution and movements in the past.”

She wants her fellow scholars to focus on human agency both in history—those Mongols and their wagon trains—and now. The history of the Black Death tells “a powerful story of our involvement in creating this pandemic: this wasn't Mother Nature just getting angry with us, let alone fate. It was human activity.”

The world is only now—thanks to Green and many others (see her long bibliography of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, time periods, and parts of the world)—really getting a handle on the true history of the Black Death. Next, she tells me, she has an article coming out with Nahyan Fancy, a medieval Islamist, on further textual evidence of plague outbreaks to supplement the Mongol News. Many of these 13th-century sources were previously known, but if you start with the assumption that the plague couldn’t be present until the 14th century, you’d never find them.

She imagines scholars may find plague in other places, once they start looking. In the meantime, the stakes for understanding how diseases move remains crucial as we wrestle with our own pandemic. I ask her what she thinks it all means for a world today still grappling with a pandemic. She replies, with a harrowing, centuries-look ahead, “The story I have reconstructed about the Black Death is 100 percent an emerging infectious disease story. . an ‘emerging’ disease lasted for 500-600 years. ”

About David M. Perry

David M. Perry is a freelance journalist covering politics, history, education, and disability rights. He was previously a professor of medieval history at Dominican University from 2006-2017.


Genetics as a Historicist Discipline: A New Player in Disease History

H istorians in Lab Coats&rdquo&mdashthat&rsquos the new epithet for the molecular biologists who have taken the limelight in the field of disease history. 1 This role is not limited to just recent disease history, where, for example, genetics is playing a major role in tracking the evolution and pathogen mutation in still-unfolding epidemics, such as HIV/AIDS, cholera, or Ebola. The most notable work, rather, has focused on my period, the Middle Ages. True, this research is usually still heralded in the &ldquoScience&rdquo section of major newspapers, rather than the &ldquoCulture&rdquo section, where historical studies (assuming they are reviewed at all) would normally appear. But the fact that history has come to be defined by breakthroughs made by scientists, rather than historians as traditionally defined, signals a sea change. One particular breakthrough in 2011 actually elicited an editorial in the New York Times, 2 which celebrated the complete sequencing of the bubonic plague bacterium from 14th-century remains in London, an achievement that finally closed decades of debate about what &ldquoreally&rdquo caused the Black Death.

Welcoming a new player onto the field of historical research is not something we traditionally trained historians always do gracefully. But I would argue that we should embrace our new sister discipline. Despite the hype in the popular press, the molecular genetics work that has contributed so substantively to the history of plague and several other disease histories hasn&rsquot pushed us off the playing field. It has an inherent limit: genetics tells us only the story of the pathogen. 3 It does not tell us how, in the case of plague, a single-celled organism came to be dispersed over half the globe in the medieval period (and around the whole globe by the beginning of the 20th century). It does not tell us about all the animal species&mdashnot simply rats, but also marmots and gerbils and maybe camels and storks&mdashthat helped transmit the organism thousands of miles from its place of origin. Least of all does it tell us how people reacted to such massive devastation, or why they looked to the stars, or local minority groups, in their search for explanations or objects of blame.

I have just finished editing a collection of essays unlike anything I ever imagined possible. The essays constitute the inaugural issue of a new journal, The Medieval Globe, and are devoted to the topic of the Black Death. 4 The collection brings together an interdisciplinary team of scholars: archeologists, microbiologists (one of whom has expertise in biosecurity), a biological anthropologist, and historians with geographical specialties ranging across Afroeurasia. Our agenda has been straightforward: to ask how the new genetics understanding of Yersinia pestis, the causative organism of plague, can alter the way we understand the history of one of the worst pandemics in human history.

Human remains from the East Smithfield Black Death Cemetery in London. DNA fragments from this cemetery were used to reconstruct the genome of Yersinia pestis in 2011.

The reason for letting the work of molecular geneticists drive our research questions about the Black Death is simple: we historians invited them in. Geneticists have taken the lead in plague narratives because they were attempting to solve a problem that had proved unsolvable by traditional (document-based) historical methods. For a variety of reasons, the 1970s and &rsquo80s engendered new questions about whether the Black Death (usually dated 1347&ndash53) had really been caused by Yersinia pestis, the same bacterium identified as the cause of plague in 1894 during an outbreak in Hong Kong that, in spreading globally, would become known as the Third Plague Pandemic. But few people prior to the late 19th century saw bacteria, and none saw viruses. They saw (or conceived of) disturbances of the humors or qi or some other construct to explain the physiology of disease. Hence, our written historical sources would never give us a definitive answer to the question: What was the disease?

The development of ancient DNA (aDNA) technologies and analytics has broken through the 19th-century barrier because they can now retrieve bacterial (and even viral) fossils. As with plague (Yersinia pestis), whole genomes have now been sequenced from historical remains for the 1918&ndash19 strain of influenza virus, leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae), cholera (Vibrio cholerae), and tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex). 5

The particular relevance of genetics for the narrative of disease history, however, goes beyond simply confirming the presence of particular pathogens at certain times and places in the past. More profoundly, the new molecular genetics creates an evolutionary history of the pathogen: it shows the historical relationships between different strains, it suggests a general chronology of development, and, most useful to us historians, it grounds those evolutionary narratives in geographical space. Most genetics work on Yersinia pestis has not been done on historical remains (which continue to be rare, subject to fortuitous retrievals by archeologists) but on modern samples of the organism. These can document only strains that have survived to modern times. Nevertheless, their spatial distribution contributes to a &ldquostory&rdquo of how the organism has moved around and developed. The new genetics allows the creation, even if only in a tentative way, of a unified history of plague: one that covers nearly the whole of Eurasia and even incorporates Africa one that looks across a wide variety of species and environments that may have proved hosts to plague and one that connects a broad chronological expanse, from the 13th century to the present day.

Filling in all the still-blank spaces of chronology, geography, and host environments and landscapes demands the traditional skills of the historian, who can draw from a rich array of written sources and other products of human culture. It demands linguistic competence to read those sources in their original languages and cultural competence to &ldquoread&rdquo them for all their nuances of contingent local meaning. Yes, we remain uniquely dependent on the geneticists for certain aspects of our interpretations. Although I have inspected human remains from the London Black Death Cemetery (see photo), I have never videno any of the molecular fossils scientists claim to have extracted from them. But after immersing myself in their published work for the past eight years, I understand why the geneticists are making the inferences they make. Taking their conclusions as working hypotheses, I and my colleagues have been able to put forward several robust hypotheses of our own, including how, when, and why plague emerged out of its evolutionary home in the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau in the 13th century. I have even tentatively postulated, on the basis of the genetics, that plague may have reached areas that have never been part of Black Death narratives before.

Our experience suggests, then, that the biological sciences can be usefully deployed to inform historical analysis. Molecular genetics has the power to reconstruct a history of material existence&mdashin this case, of microbes&mdashat a level that no other kind of historical source or method can reach. Moreover, in the case of an ecologically complex disease like plague, other fields&mdashsuch as zoology, entomology, and bioarchaeology&mdashhave great potential to inform our work. And my experience suggests that, if introduced thoughtfully, such science can be deployed even in the undergraduate classroom. Being challenged in this way by a discipline so utterly different in its methods and questions from our own can make us better historians and highlight the unique contributions we make as humanists.

Monica H. Green is a historian of medieval medicine and global health. In 2009 and 2012, she ran a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar in London, &ldquoHealth and Disease in the Middle Ages&rdquo participants wrestled with the problem of opening up dialogue between the humanities and the historicist sciences.

The December issue of the American Historical Review features a roundtable entitled &ldquoHistory Meets Biology.&rdquo Authors of the roundtable articles are John L. Brooke, Clark Spencer Larsen, Edmund Russell, Randolph Roth, Kyle Harper, Walter Scheidel, Lynn Hunt, Julia Adeney Thomas, Norman MacLeod, and Michael D. Gordin. Read the 10 essays at www.historians.org/ahr.

1. Lester K. Little, &ldquoPlague Historians in Lab Coats,&rdquo Past and Present, 213 (2011): 267&ndash90.

3. There is also genetics work that looks at disease history from the perspective of human genetics, such as evolutionary responses to malaria, tuberculosis, and cholera. I am referring here only to work that focuses on the pathogenic organism of infectious diseases.

4. Monica H. Green, guest editor Carol Symes, executive editor, &ldquoPandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death,&rdquo The Medieval Globe 1 (2014), http://www.arc-humanities.org/inaugural-issue.html. Open-access publication has been generously underwritten by the World History Center, University of Pittsburgh.

5. The key scientific studies on these organisms are: Kirsten I. Bos et al., &ldquoA Draft Genome of Yersinia pestis from Victims of the Black Death,&rdquo Narava 478 (October 27, 2011): 506&ndash10 Jeffery K. Taubenberger et al., &ldquoCharacterization of the 1918 Influenza Virus Polymerase Genes,&rdquo Narava 437 (2005): 889&ndash93 Verena J. Schuenemann et al., &ldquoGenome-wide Comparison of Medieval and Modern Mycobacterium leprae,&rdquo Science 341 (July 12, 2013): 179&ndash83 Alison M. Devault et al., &ldquoSecond-Pandemic Strain of Vibrio cholerae from the Philadelphia Cholera Outbreak of 1849,&rdquo New England Journal of Medicine 370 (2014), 334&ndash40 and Kristen I. Bos et al. &ldquoPre-Columbian Mycobacterial Genomes Reveal Seals as a Source of New World Human Tuberculosis,&rdquo Narava, published online August 20, 2014, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13591.

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