The spread of the black death.
Poland, tell us your secret.
Poland is the
old new Madagascar.
If I remember correctly, Poland’s secret is that the jews where being blamed all over europe (as usual) as scapegoats for the black plague. Poland was the only place that accepted Jewish refugees, so pretty much all of them moved there.
Now, one of the major causes of getting the plague was poor hygiene. This proved very effective for the plague because everyone threw their poop into the streets because there were no sewers, and literally no one bathed because it was against their religion. Unless they were jewish, who actually bathed relatively often. When all the jews moved to Poland, they brought bathing with them, and so the plague had little effect there.
Milan survived by quarantining its city and burning down the house of anyone showing early symptoms, with the entire family inside it.
I reblogged this tons of times, but the Milan info is new.
Damn Italy, you scary.
Poland: “Hey, feeling a bit down? Have a quick wash! There, you see? All better”
Milan: “Aw, feeling a bit sick are we? BURN MOTHERFUCKER, BURN!!!!!”
Also, this might have something to do with it: from what I understand, O blood type is uncommonly… common in Poland. Something to do with large families in small villages and a LOT of intermarriage. The black plague was caused by a bacterium that produced, in its waste in the human body, wastes that very closely mimic the “B” marker sugars on red blood cells that keep the body from attacking its own immune system. Anyone who has a B blood type had an immune system that was naturally desensitized to the presence of the bacterium, and therefore was more prone to developing the disease. Anyone who had an O type was doubly lucky because the O blood type means the total absence of ANY markers, A or B, meaning that their bodys’ immune system would react quickly and violently against the invaders, while someone with an A may show symptoms and recover more slowly, while someone with B would have just died. Because O is a recessive blood type, it shows in higher numbers when more people who carry the recessive genes marry other people who also carry the recessive gene. Poland, which has a nearly 700 year history of being conquered by or partnering with every other nation in the surrounding area, was primarily an agricultural country, focused around smaller, farming communities where people were legally tied to, and required to work, “their” land, and so historically never “spread” their genes across a large area. The economy was, and had been, unstable for a very long period of time leading up to the plague, the government had been ineffective and had very little reach in comparison to the armies of the other countries around for a very very long time, and so its people largely remained in small communities where multiple generations of cross-familial inbreeding could have allowed for this more recessive gene to show up more frequently. Thus, there could be a higher percentage of O blood types in any region of the country, guaranteeing less spread of the illness and moving slower when it did manage to travel. Combine this with the fact that there were very few large, urban centers where the disease would thrive, and with the above facts, and you’ve got a lovely recipe for avoiding the plague.
Interestingly enough, as a result from the plague, the entirety of Europe now has a higher percentage of people with O blood type than any other region of the world.
WHY IS THIS ALL SO COOL
When Tumblr teaches you more about the plague than 12 years of school ever did.
Just to throw a nod in, as a medieval historian, this is all credible, and is the leading theory as to the plagues effectiveness at this point. So. Enjoy your new knowledge!
And parents said teh internet is not educational.
(Source: , via lostinhistory)
Via Atlas Obscura
The Vampire Plague of Venice
It’s bad enough when the plague rolls into town, but the citizens of Venice apparently also did battle with vampires.
In 1629-1630 the black death descended on Italy, killing as many as 280,000 people. In isolated and crowded Venice, the disease hit hard, taking nearly a third of the population: 46,000 lives out of a population of just 140,000. The death and resulting chaos deeply brought the once great maritime empire to its knees.
In an attempt to prevent disasters like this, Venice had long ago built two quarantine islands on the outskirts of the city, known as Lazzaretto Vecchio (Old Quarantine) and Lazzaretto Nuovo (New Quarantine). During normal times, these islands functioned primarily as a filter, waylaying incoming ships as they entered the city so that crew and goods could be inspected for signs of disease.
But in the desperate times that came with the outbreak of the black death, citizens were taken by force and marooned on the islands, where they were left to die. Mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been uncovered on both islands in recent years.
But more distressingly than plague bodies, recent excavations also uncovered the skull of a woman with a brick jammed in her mouth, leaving her in an eternal scream. This was the prescribed method in the mid 17th century for dealing with “Shroud Eaters”, a type of vampire also known as “The Chewing Dead”. These particular vampires were believed to be able to cause death and disease from the comfort of their own graves, laying there in the dark, possessed and chewing at their burial garments. Vigilant citizens who somehow noticed unsettling masticating sounds emerging from the grave, or spotted the blood-stained mouths of the recently dead (a naturally occurring side effect of decomposition) took it upon themselves to put an end to the Shroud Eater’s reign of terror by inserting a brick in their mouth.
Although stories of the chewing dead and the treatments for them had long been a part of vampire lore, finding actual evidence of the practice is extremely rare.
The excavation referred to in the article took place in 2009 and you can find out more about the discovery of the ‘Vampire of Venice’ by clicking here.