Single Genetic change created the medieval plague, researchers find

Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411)

Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that caused Justinian’s Plague and the Black Death, was once only able to cause a mild gastrointestinal infection. However, researchers have found that a single genetic change to bacteria turned into one of the deadliest diseases in human history.

Papers on Medieval Prosopography: Session #47 at KZOO 2015

Pieter Brueghel - Kermesse (The Feast of Saint George)

Three fantastic papers on Prosopography from #KZOO2015.

The Quickener – A Medieval Tale

Whisperer Stare - The Quickener - A Medieval Tale

The year is 1348. Medieval England has just been struck by a terrifying plague. The fate of a young sculptor and his wife will be decided today. With a brutal moneylender breathing down their necks and The Black Death wrecking havoc will they be able to escape doom?

Priests and the Black Death

Boccaccio's 'The plague of Florence in 1348'

As news of outbreaks of disease continues to swirl around the world, I keep being reminded of the bravery of the caregivers who bring comfort and aid to the sick and the dying.

How Climate Change in Asia brought the Black Death to Europe

Several hundred years old juniper tree in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Photo: Andrea Seim (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

A group of Norwegian and Swiss researchers have uncovered links between climatic changes in central Asia and repeated outbreaks of the Bubonic plague in Europe, starting with the Black Death in the 14th century.

Epidemics Past and Present: What Historic Diseases Tell Us About Future Threats

Epidemics Past and Present What Historic Diseases Tell Us About Future Threats

Dr. DeWitte will discuss how bioarchaeological research on past epidemics such as the Black Death can improve our understanding of emerging diseases and human-pathogen coevolution in general, and the potential it has to provide tools for dealing with disease in living populations.

Black Death DNA found in teeth

The plague of Florence in 1348, as described in Boccaccio's Decameron. Etching by L. Sabatelli

Remnants of the genetic makeup of plague bacteria have been found in thousands of victims of the Black Death and the major plague epidemics at the end of the Iron Age. The DNA analyses may predict the next plague outbreak.

Medieval Books for Christmas

The Middle Ages - Johannes Fried

It’s that time of year again – the mad scramble for the perfect Christmas gift for the historian, nerd, avid reader on your list. Here are a few suggestions for you – new releases for December and January!

Plague Remedies from Renaissance Italy

Renaissance Florence - photo by Francesco Caminiti

‘Rue tops, one clove of garlic, a walnut, a grain of salt, and eat on an empty stomach everyday for up to a month, and you must be cheerful, and this recipe, it’s good against vermin and it’s perfect.

The Medieval Globe launches with special issue on the Black Death

The Medieval Globe. | Photo courtesy Arc Medieval Press/Paul Smit

Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death is the theme for the inaugural issue of The Medieval Globe.

What can fourteenth century Venice teach us about Ebola?

Venice 17th century

Venice’s response to the plague an “example of resilience management,’ say experts

The Importance of Parks in Fifteenth-Century Society

Medieval deer park

In this paper, my aim is to consider the role of parks in the fifteenth century.

INTERVIEW: A Conversation with SD Sykes about Plague Land

Burial of plague victims - The Black Death

My interview with fiction author, SD Sykes about her fantastic medieval crime novel, Plague Land.

A First Escape from Poverty in Late Medieval Japan: Evidence from Real Wages in Kyoto (1360-1860)

Muromachi Samurai (1538)

This paper offers a first investigation of long-term trends in Japanese living standards from the mid-14th to the mid-19th century using urban daily wages and price data for a number of basic commodities.

Containing Contagion: Perception and Prevention of Plague in the Late Middle Ages

Burial of plague victims - The Black Death

When the Black Death, one of the world’s deadliest epidemics, struck the European continent, the people afflicted with plague looked to those already respected in the medical field.

Turning Toward Death: The Medievals’ Terrestrial Treatment of Death in Art During the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

Vanity and Salvation Hans Memling 1433 - 1494

Throughout the Middle Ages, religious iconography was a main theme of art and the Church heavily patronized works that embodied virtuous ideals. Art was often used as a religious implement in which the Church instructed the illiterate masses. However, art can also represent pain and trauma acting as an outlet for the artist.

BOOK REVIEW: Plague Land by SD Sykes

Plague Land by SD Sykes

My review of SD Sykes brilliant medieval thriller, Plague Land.

Teaching Out of the Box: Creating a Lesson about the Black Death

Teaching Out of the Box

A team of teachers is challenged to produce an imaginative and exciting lesson on medieval history inspired by objects given to them in a box.

From Sin to Science: Astrological Explanations for the Black Death, 1347-1350

15th century image of Death - Majorana, Cristoforo (fl. ca. 1480-1494). Image from New York Public Library

Few survivors of the plague’s horrors could have remained indifferent to debates over its ultimate cause. The frequent evocation of astrology in these debates helped to increase the circulation of astrological ideas in the later fourteenth century, and contributed to the wider vogue they enjoyed during the early modern period

Living la vita apostolica: Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland

Medieval Nuns

Living la vita apostolica: Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland Jaco Zuijderduijn (Utrecht University ) Centre for Global Economic History: Utrecht University, Working Paper No. 44, June (2013) Abstract Data on vital events of medieval women are extremely scarce. We use a dataset based on a necrology of nuns in late-medieval Holland […]

Some Pharmaceutical Recipes for the Treatment of the Bubonic Pest Contained into the Kitab Al-Tahsil of Ibn Khatima (d.1369)

Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411)

This paper is a study of fragments of the work entitled in Arabic Tahsil gharad al-qasid fi-tafsil al-marad al-wafid, which was written in the 14th century by the well known Spanish physician Ibn Khatima

Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death

Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411)

The results indicate that there are significant differences in survival and mortality risk, but not birth rates, between the two time periods, which suggest improvements in health following the Black Death, despite repeated outbreaks of plague in the centuries after the Black Death.

What to See in Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey Review

A review and tour of Westminster Abbey

Archaeologists discover London’s Black Death mass grave

London Black Death victim

Skeletons discovered last year in London were victims of the Black Death, according to new research announced yesterday. Furthermore, archaeologists believe that have found an emergency burial ground created in 1348 for victim of the pandemic.

The Red Sea and the Port of Clysma. A Possible Gate of Justinian’s Plague

Plague of Justinian

The aim of this study is to present the sea and land commercial routes of the Byzantine Egypt and their role in the dissemination of the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis from the Red Sea to Mediterranean ports. The Mediterranean port of Pelusium was considered as the starting point of the first plague pandemic…

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