Author(s): Ell SR
Abstract Share this page
Abstract The epidemiology of medieval and early modern European plague remains highly controversial. It now seems likely that the epidemiology was not uniform throughout either the geographic or temporal boundaries of the plague in Western Europe. The Venetian plague of 1630 was extensively documented; day-by-day records were kept, and each mortality in the city was recorded in a set format. The days 23-25 October 1630, representing a period when mortality was beginning to increase sharply, are examined. In all, 1,163 deaths were recorded. They show a large preponderance of women; a mean age of 28, but a majority of cases clumped between ages 0 and 25 years; and an unequal sex ratio among children. Further, there was an identifiable smallpox epidemic raging simultaneously with plague, and more than one-quarter of all the deaths in this period of high mortality were clearly due to nonplague causes. Deaths due to wounds and associated with violence were prominent in one parish, which suggests that in times of plague the breakdown in the normal machinery of government, in everyday patterns of life, and possibly of mental well being resulted in an even more exaggerated death toll. These factors--violence, accidents, and other epidemics--have never been so definitively tied to a European plague epidemic. In addition, there are hints that plague has a marked proclivity to kill pregnant women--their deaths far outnumber those anticipated--and that plague was very localized at a given moment within Venice itself, even during times of peak mortality.
This article was published in Rev Infect Dis
and referenced in Anthropology