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Plagues and Pandemics

Many different goods like typical Indian spices and curries are presented in bags for sale at the weekly flea-market.

Beyond the Black Death

Between 1300 and 1500 the population of Europe collapsed. We know that the Black Death played a major part in this catastrophic decline but was it more important than war, or famine, or other diseases of the age such as leprosy? Learn about the many and varied causes of human mortality in the Middle Ages.

An image of the ceiling and balcony inside Haghia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey.

The wrath of God

There were few effective cures for the diseases of the Early Modern period. In the absence of scientific knowledge, people wanted plausible stories to make sense of recurrent outbreaks of infectious disease. And there was a simple explanation: epidemics were God’s punishment for the sinfulness of man. Margaret Healy offers an introduction to divine rage and human health in the Renaissance.

A view of Fiji water bottles during the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 27, 2016 in Santa Monica, California.

What’s in a (medical) name?

Consumption, phthisis, pulmonary tuberculosis, TB … all these terms were used to describe the same disease over the course of the nineteenth century. Michael Worboys explains how these name changes reflected shifts in the medical understanding of the disease and in social attitudes towards it.

A Painting of a Tea Party at Lord Harringtons House, St. James

Military combat and disease

Typhus was first described in the fifteenth century but has been especially deadly during periods of extended military conflict such as the Napoleonic Wars and the Crimean War. Read how the infection was passed from soldier to soldier through their lice-infested uniforms and learn how, in the trenches of the First World War, attempts to kill the lice by chemical means were as toxic to humans as they were to insects.

A photograph of Castle Hill Mansion on The Crane Estate, 59-room Stuart-style mansion designed by architect David Adler circa 1928, Ipswich, MA.

Changing attitudes to HIV/AIDS

How have modern epidemics affected social values? Gender, Sex and the Shaping of Modern Europe reveals how attitudes surrounding the origins of HIV/AIDS evolved and were expressed in laws across the continent.