Paxtonvic’s Blog

Just another weblog

HINI has got nothing on this…..

” The Black Death of 1348-9 is thought to have killed a third to a half of the population of Europe. More exact measurements of the plague mortality are hard to come by, but the ten episcopal registers of England which survived the great pestilence provide some of the most complete and reliable information about the number of deaths on a yearly basis. Although there are qualifications to be made before using this information, the defects in the bishops’ registers are not so great that the historian can afford to neglect this valuable source. In addition, there is sometimes anecdotal evidence in the registers which speaks of the human drama of the plague, in contrast to the impassive testimony of numbers.

This paper will examine the evidence of the register of Thomas de Lisle, bishop of Ely from 1345 until 1361, as it relates to the Black Death. The first half of the paper will address the statistical evidence, to be followed by a discussion of the anecdotal material. De Lisle’s register has not been extensively studied since J. Lunn’s 1930 thesis on The Black Death in the Bishops’ Registers, which is now lost. A re-evaluation of this evidence will reveal that the inhabitants of East Anglia, and of Cambridgeshire in particular, were among the greatest sufferers of the plague.

From: The Black death in the Diocese of Ely: The evidence of the bishop’s register by John Abert.

Not very cheery, but maybe helpful to keep the sufferings of our ancestors in mind when we feel under threat from a new virus. Our  medieval bretheren   had meagre  medical treatment, no science, no real understanding of how the plague was spread…. and no expectation that medicine  could and should halt its progress. Just a faith in God that all would be well on the other side…well, Im assuming most of them in those days had that – not least coming from the doom paintings above the chancel arches which would have warned them of  the consequences of a sinful life.
The mostly 15th century doom at Lutterworth Church, Leicestershire. Once seen, never forgotten.
doom at chaldon
And here is a doom at Chaldon, Surrey  –  above : angel type figures weighing souls  and for those found to be wanting :  below  it is down the ladder and devils forking  sinners  into the flames.
Not that the church was in the business of frightening people into faith (???) but the fear of hell was very real and for the poor,  illiterate masses for whom plague and illness were an every day occurance around them,  seeing doom paintings every time they went into church was  a constant reminder of the wages of sin…
A bit heavy, paxtonvic, you might say – well, I do like a bit of medieval history now and then – I wonder what historians will be making of us in 2500 AD? And, will our churches still be standing? And will our Mission Actions Plans have come into fruition??

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

July 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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