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‘Safer on the battlefield than in the city’: England, the ‘sweating sickness’, and the continent

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Although there were several outbreaks of the ‘sweating sickness’ (Sudor anglicus) in England between 1485 and 1551, only in 1529 did the disease spread far into the continent. In that year it had a devastating impact, spreading rapidly throughout Germany and thence into Scandinavia and the Baltic area, as well as into the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Austria. This study surveys the effect of the disease in Germany, and in particular draws attention to the astonishing speed with which the medical profession and the book trade there reacted to the crisis, which contrasts markedly with the apparent sluggishness of the response by English physicians and publishers. Nevertheless, it seems that it was the long English experience of the disease that eventually taught the Germans how to deal with it effectively; it is possible that the Reformer Robert Barnes (1495–1540), then in L├╝beck, played a role in this. (pp. 147–176)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of London

Publication date: June 1, 2003


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