The Woolsorters Plague
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What Disease was Plague? Table of Contents. Related Content.
Front Page Podcast
Author: Barton Hacker. Preclassical and indigenous nonwestern military institutions and methods of warfare are the chief subjects of this annotated bibliography of work published — Classical antiquity, post-Roman Europe, and the westernized armed forces of the 20th century, although covered, receive less systematic attention. Emphasis is on historical studies of military organization and the relationships between military and other social institutions, rather than wars and battles.
Especially rich in references to the periodical literature, the bibliography is divided into eight parts: 1 general and comparative topics; 2 the ancient world; 3 Eurasia since antiquity; 4 sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania; 5 pre-Columbian America; 6 postcontact America; 7 the contemporary nonwestern world; and 8 philosophical, social scientific, natural scientific, and other works not primarily historical. Author: Christine Shaw. The military nobility — "signori di castelli", lords of castles — formed an important component of the society of Renaissance Italy, although they have often been disregarded by historians, or treated as an anomaly.
Her main focus is on their military resources and how they deployed them in public and private wars, in pursuit of their own interests and in the service of others, and on how their military weight affected their political standing and influence. Die Ablasstheologie Kardinal Cajetans However, substantial gaps are evident in temporal coverage as well.
For instance, the original data set gives the impression that the 16th and 17th centuries witnessed much higher plague activity than the 14th and 15th centuries. Yue et al. Furthermore, absence of evidence cannot be interpreted as evidence of absence in the case of late-medieval plague outbreaks The literature has explicitly pointed out the paucity of quantifiable evidence for the recurring epidemics of the late Middle Ages — 26 ; however, this paucity is also related to a polarization of the research focus between the initial Black Death outbreak and early modern outbreaks. To interpret both the incomplete recording of sources by Biraben and the less forthcoming nature of late-medieval plague documents as evidence of lower plague activity is unsatisfactory.
This interpretation accepted by some researchers is yet another reason why the noncritical use of the data leads us to consternation over the results and interpretations produced. Last, we address the third and final problem, the absence of source critique.
Despite elucidating the basic symptoms one would expect to see with bubonic plague, such as fever, buboes, and vomiting, Biraben never justified how he came to identify certain localities in certain years as experiencing plagues in his own data set, and a structural overview of the original sources he used is missing. A further problem with not knowing the original sources is that equal weight in terms of accuracy and reliability cannot necessarily be attributed to different reference types e.
Medieval historians question the methods used for identifying diseases in the past 27 , Laboratories have confirmed Yersinia pestis in burial sites connected to the initial Black Death outbreak of — 29 , but few works have explicitly linked Y. Accordingly for other late-medieval plagues, we are often reliant on anecdotal references by contemporaries in the absence of laboratory or even epidemiologic evidence. Using references by contemporaries is problematic, given the terms peste or pestilentia were often indiscriminate references to all sorts of afflictions Only starting roughly around the second half of the 15th century do we find more explicit differentiation in the descriptions of diseases in the Low Countries and Italy 31 , 32 , and even these descriptions still were by no means systematic.
For many of the putative late-medieval outbreaks after the initial Black Death, most literary sources do not mention key signs or symptoms, such as the combination of buboes, fever, and a rapidity of death. When signs or symptoms are referenced, they are fragmentary and localized and, therefore, difficult to use as evidence for the occurrence of general epidemic outbreaks over large territories. We must also bear in mind that even in modern times the diagnosis of plague on the basis of signs and symptoms is problematic for trained medical professionals The only way to determine the etiologic agent responsible for a disease is by using molecular diagnostic tests.
This problem is further illuminated by some of the plagues Biraben identified, such as the plague of —, which occurred during a period of extreme cold weather 35 , 36 and manifested as harvest failures and famine-related diseases 37 ; research has suggested that waterborne infections were more likely the cause of this pestilence First, if we are going to pursue the Biraben database, we at least need to check his plague references with other forms of evidence rather than taking him at his word. Graph provided courtesy of Campbell B.
The great transition: climate, disease and society in the late-medieval world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Second, scholars looking to test certain hypotheses, such as the effect of navigable rivers, commercialization, trade routes, or climatic fluctuations, should do so by using a historical plague data set of a much more restricted geographic or temporal scope to limit problems such as the inequalities in availability of source material or scholarly attention.
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- Noncritical Use of Historical Plague Databases!
We need to escape the confines of excessively localized and excessively macro scales and, instead, reap the benefits of a more workable historical laboratory at a regional level This restriction method is similar to how epidemiologists try to control for confounders by limiting their data to a specific group of persons sharing a specific characteristic. A way of implementing this in practice is by moving away from using data sets that consolidate different kinds of references to plague through different kinds of evidence often without justification and moving toward using data sets that can show differences in plague characteristics by comparing the same type of source material, a method that offers greater control.
For example, by using only data from church burial records from the 16th and 17th centuries over many parts of Europe, a systemic comparison can be performed between urban and rural localities over time and with regard to plague severity, seasonality, pervasiveness, and various kinds of selectivity 14 , Epidemiologic information on plagues is better provided by using this approach than by using a random set of diverse manuscripts that may or may not refer to plague.
Given that this task is laborious and time-consuming, incentives are needed for historians to compile this information. One incentive could be the formal inclusion of trained medieval historians in large interdisciplinary scientific teams interested in charting and explaining the spread of plague. Roosen is a doctoral student researcher working at Utrecht University Utrecht, the Netherlands under the supervision of Bas van Bavel, and Dr. Curtis is an assistant professor at Leiden University Leiden, the Netherlands.
Both authors have research interests in the epidemiologic characteristics of infectious diseases in the past. Dangers of noncritical use of historical plague data. Emerg Infect Dis. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Emerg Infect Dis v. Joris Roosen 1 and Daniel R.
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Curtis 1. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands J. Roosen ;. Corresponding author. Address for correspondence: Daniel R. Copyright notice. Abstract Researchers have published several articles using historical data sets on plague epidemics using impressive digital databases that contain thousands of recorded outbreaks across Europe over the past several centuries.
Keywords: plague, Black Death, data, history, databases, mapping, sources, epidemics, bacteria, vector-borne infections, zoonoses, high-consequence pathogens. Open in a separate window.
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Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Biraben Data Set In the examples we mention, 3 transgressions have been attributed to the scholars using the Biraben data set. Figure 4. Figure 5. Figure 6. Figure 7. References 1. Jones L, Nevell R.
Anthrax (malignant edema, woolsorters' disease)
Plagued by doubt and viral misinformation: the need for evidence-based use of historical disease images. Lancet Infect Dis. Biraben J-N. Vol 1. Paris: Mouton; Vol 2. Trade routes and plague transmission in pre-industrial Europe. Interdisciplinary public health reasoning and epidemic modelling: the case of the Black Death. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; Did medieval trade activity and a viral etiology control the spatial extent and seasonal distribution of Black Death mortality?
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