A note on the origins of syphilis


A note on the origins of syphilis

PEARCE,J. M. S.,

Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, (1998);64:542 doi:10.1136/jnnp.64.4.542

Abstract

Certain early writers suggested that syphilis infected ancient Chinese dynasties, whilst others claim priority for the afflicted populus of the early Romans, alleging that Augustus Caesar was afflicted by hereditary syphilis. But these suppositions are unconfirmed. The sailors with Columbus in 1493 were said to have brought the disease to Spain. It is certain that the Spanish fleet, when they fought for their ruler Alfonso II against the French forces of Charles VIII of France in 1494–5, heavily infected the peoples of Naples. The illness spread rapidly around Europe and mercenaries who in 1496 joined Perkin Warbeck in Scotland and with the support of James IV of Scotland invaded England, bore both arms and thegrandgore (Old French. grand gorre: grand great + gorre syphilis) as it was called. In 1497 the Minutes of the Town Council of Edinborough ( Phil. Trans. XLII. 421) recognised: “This contagious sickness callit the Grandgor.”

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Sharan Newman