Sunday, April 15

Black Death

Me: "You won't believe what I learned."
Eitan, Madeleine:
Me: "First, who can tell me what the plague was?"
Eitan: "It was when disease was passed from people by the fleas on rats."
Madeleine: "There were two plagues. One of them was a blood plague, which is when you cough blood until you die. The other plague, right before the London Fire, so that would be 1666, made your nose, ears, toes and fingers fall off. And your eyeballs would bleed."
Me: "Good stuff. Anyway, you know how they built a new cafe at Palewell Park?  Well, during the excavations they found skulls and skeletons. They believe it was a plague dump."
Eitan: "What's a plague dump?"
Me: "When people died during the plague they chucked them on a barge and brought them up-river to Mortlake then took them to a pit in Palewell Park where they would dissolve the bodies with lye.
Eitan, Madeleine:
Me: "Still want to play football there?"
Madeleine: "Yeah. What's the big deal?"
Me: "Fair enough I guess."

Dad's note: The Great Plague from 1664 to 1666 was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague in England. It happened during the centuries-long period of the Second Pandemic, an extended period of intermittent bubonic plague epidemics which began in Europe in 1347, the first year of the "Black Death" and lasted until 1750. The Great Plague killed an estimated 100,000 people, about 20% of London's population. Bubonic plague is transmitted through the bite of an infected flea. The 1654–1666 epidemic was on a far smaller scale than the earlier "Black Death" pandemic; it was remembered afterwards as the "great" plague only because it was the last widespread outbreak of bubonic plague in England during the four-hundred-year timespan of the Second Pandemic.
Source: London City Museum
Photo: Wellcome Trust Library