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The English Sweat in Lübeck and North Germany, 1529

  • John Christiansen (a1)
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Abstract
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References
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1 R S Gottfried, ‘Population, plague, and the sweating sickness: demographic movements in late fifteenth-century England’, J. Br. Stud., 1977, 17 (1): 12–37; John A H Wylie and I J Linn, ‘Observations upon the distribution and spread of the English sweating sickness (sudor anglicus) in Devon in 1551’, Rep. Trans. Devon. Ass. Advancement. Sci., 1980, 112: 101–15; Alan Dyer, ‘The English sweating sickness of 1551: an epidemic anatomized’, Med. Hist., 1997, 41: 362–84.

2 Charles Creighton, A history of epidemics in Britain from AD 664 to the extinction of the plague, 2 vols, Cambridge University Press, 1891, vol. 1, pp. 251–2; R Holinshed, Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 6 vols, London, J Johnson, 1807–1808, vol. 3, pp. 735–6; Grafton’s chronicle, or, History of England from the year 1189 to 1558, 2 vols, London, J Johnson, et al., 1809, vol. 2, p. 412.

3 J F C Hecker, The epidemics of the Middle Ages, transl. B G Babington, 3rd ed., London, Trübner, 1859, pp. 228–45.

4 Reimarus Kock, Chronicle, in C G Gruner (comp.), Scriptores de sudore anglico superstites, Jena, F Maukius, 1847, pp. 443–4.

5 Regimen vitebergium, in Gruner (comp.), op. cit., note 4 above, pp. 231–5.

6 John L Flood, ‘“Safer on the battlefield than in the city”: England, the “sweating sickness”, and the continent’, Renaissance Studies, 2003, 17: 147–76, p. 156; Nicolaus Staphorst, Historia ecclesiae Hamburgensis diplomatica, 5 vols, Hamburg, Theodor Christoph Felginern, 1723–1731, 1729, vol. 2, pp. 84–5. Staphorst writes: “… so dat van Jacobi beth tho Hemmelfahrt-Marien Dage weren verstorven by 1100 Minschen … ”. Staphorst gives no reference for his source of this information.

7 J M Lappenberg (ed.), Hamburgische Chroniken in niedersächsischer Sprache, Wiesbaden, Martin Sändig, 1861; Peter Hanssen, Geschichte der Epidemien bei Menschen und Tieren im Norden, Glückstadt, J J Augustin, 1925, p. 61. For the population of Hamburg, see Franklin Kopitzsch and Daniel Tilgner (eds), Hamburg Lexikon, Hamburg, Ellert & Richter, 2005, p. 67.

8 Jürgen Hartwig Ibs, Die Pest in Schleswig-Holstein von 1350 bis 1547/48, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 1994, p. 126.

9 G C F Lisch, ‘Die Schweißsucht in Meklenburg im Jahre 1529’, in G C F Lisch (ed.), Jahrbücher des Vereins für mecklenburgische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Schwerin, 1838, pp. 60–83, p. 61, ftn 2: “In dem suluenjare sunte Jacobs dach tho mytzamer vorhoff sick eyne nye kranckheit, de sweytszuke genometh, und de dar innebeuellen most sick befruchten, in XXIIII stunden doeth edder leuendich tosyn; und dar storuen binnen hamborch in IIII efften vyff weken meer den dusent mynschen unde sesuke toch vorth auer alle didesche landt alsze eyn blixen, szo dat dat folck szer erschrockenn wardth.”

10 Gruner (comp.), op. cit., note 4 above.

11 Lisch, ‘Die Schweißsucht’, op. cit., note 9 above, pp. 60–8.

12 John Caius, A boke or counseill against the disease commonly called the sweate, London, Richard Grafton,1552.

13 Euricius Cordus, Ain Regiment, in Gruner (comp.), op. cit., note 4 above, pp. 75–92.

14 Lisch, ‘Die Schweißsucht’, op. cit., note 9 above, p. 70.

15 Ibid, p. 73. It is surprising that none of 32 infected people died but from the epidemics in England it is well known that mortality varied considerably between different regions, see Dyer (op. cit., note 1 above, pp. 379–80), and Wylie and Linn (op. cit., note 1 above, p. 105). Also the approach to treatment of the disease may have varied between different regions. Dehydration was probably the main reason for the rapid death within twenty-four hours and since many doctors, including John Caius, advocated fluid restriction, the treatment in itself may have increased mortality. A number of contemporary continental doctors supported fluid restriction, among them Anthonium Brelochs, Ein kurtzer gegründter undterricht, unnd erklerung einer geschwinden, und überscharpffen seuchten, yetzo von vielen der Englisch schwayss, aber von den Alten das Pestilentzisch fieber genant, in Gruner (comp.), op. cit. note 4 above, pp. 123–46, on p.131, and Johann Hellwetter (Vor die Engelische krnackheyt die Schweysssucht, in Gruner (comp.), op. cit., note 4 above, pp. 147–52, on p. 152), while others, for example Euricius Cordis, supported fluid intake (op. cit., note 13 above, pp. 80, 87). Cordis was professor of medicine in Marburg, where according to Luther about 50 were hit by the disease but only one or two died (Martin Luther, Briefwechsel, Weimar, Hermann Böhlaus, 1934, vol. 5, p. 154). If Euricius Cordis’s attitude to fluid intake was generally accepted in Marburg, it could explain the low mortality of the disease in this town.

16 B M Lersch, Geschichte der Volksseuchen, Berlin, S Karger, 1896, pp. 215–20.

17 “… und tödete in kurzer Zeit unglaublich Viele”, J Hanssen and H Wolf, Chronik des Landes Dithmarschen, Hamburg, Langhoff, 1833, pp. 422–3.

18 W-D Hauschild, ‘Frühe Neuzeit und Reformation: das Ende der Grossmachtstellung und die Neuorientierung der Stadtgemeinschaft’, in A Grassmann (ed.), Lübeckische Geschichte, Lübeck, Schmidt-Röhmhild, 1989, pp. 341–432.

19 Johann Adolfi (genannt Neocorus), Chronik des Landes Dithmarschen, ed. F E Dahlmann, Kiel, Universitetsbuchhandlung, 1827, p. 69.

20 Hanssen and Wolf, op. cit., note 17 above, p. 423.

21 August Sach, Geschichte der Stadt Schleswig nach urkundlichen Quellen, Schleswig, Julius Bergas, 1875, p. 153 ( “1529 raffte die svedtsyke eine so grosse Zahl von Menschen hin, dass zur beerdigung der ärmeren Einwohner die nöthigen Gelder fehlten”).

22 Johannes von Schröder, Geschichte und Beschreibung der Stadt Schleswig, Schleswig, Königl. Taubstummen-Institut zu Schleswig, 1827, p. 333.

23 Gemeinschaftsarchiv, Schleswig, Abt. 2, nr. 95: Der Stadt Schleswigk Schotell Boeck 1524–1588. p. XVII: “Des 29. Jahres… einigen Falles durchlief die ganze deutsche Nation die erschreckliche Seuche Schwitzseuche, aus England ursprünglich her gekommen, die darein befallen starben binnen 24 Stunden, sobald aber von den davon befallenen die 24 Stunden überlebten, die konnten sofort essen, trinken, arbeiten, gehen, reisen,stehen was die wollten, die hatten solche unermessliche Hitze und schwitzten die davon Befallenen, dass menschlicher Vernunft es unmöglich gewesen, dass jene Menschen davon konnten da Leben werhalten…. Und obwohl jetzt in den benachbarten Landen und Städten in Lübeck, Rostock, Hamburg, Bremen und weiterhin wo auch in diesen Landen, Städten und Flecken ein erschrechlich eiliges oderschnelles Hinfallen der Menschen gewesen ist, hat der liebe Gott doch die Stadt, vor allen anderen gnädig und väterlich beschutzt, und obwohl auch viele hier in dieser schrechlichen Plage befallen so ist doch hier nicht mehr als unser Pastor Marquardus Schuldrup der gelehrte Mann und fleissige Prediger gestorben …”.

24 “Um diese Zeit zumal im Jahre 1529 raffte eine bösartige Seuche—Sweetsüke, auch Sudor Anglicus genannt,—viele Menschen hin”; C G Hanssen, Versuch einer Chronik von Eckernförde, Kiel, Königl. Schulbuchdruckerei, 1833, p. 15. Hanssen’s source is given in ftn 30 on p.15: Noodts Beitr. 2. vol. p. 272.

25 Gottfried, op. cit., note 1 above, pp. 14–17.

26 J Chiffoleau, ‘Les testaments provençaux et comtadins à la fin du moyen âge’, in Paolo Brezzi, Egmont Lee (eds), Sources of social history. Private acts of the late middle ages, Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1984, pp. 131–52.

27 Ibs, op. cit., note 8 above, pp. 117–123. The wills in Lübeck have been published only for the period 1278–1363 by Ashaver von Brandt (Regesten der Lübecker Bürgertestamente des Mittelalters, Lübeck, Max Schmidt-Röhmild, vol. 1, 1964; vol. 2, 1973). The present study is based on registered wills from the period 1520–1535 preserved in the Archiv der Hansestadt Lübeck.

28 Gottfried, op. cit., note 1 above, p. 16.

29 Lübeckische Geschlechter, Archive number HS 171. Personenregister “Schnobel”. Archive number HS 8172. Personenkartei (card index of Lübeck citizens).

30 Wylie and Linn, op. cit., note 1 above pp.104–5.

31 Paul Slack, The impact of plague in Tudor and Stuart England, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985, pp. 88, 26.

32 E A Wrigley and R S Schofield, The population history of England 1541–1871, London, Edward Arnold, 1981, pp. 646–93.

33 Dyer, op. cit., note 1 above, p. 364.

34 Ibs, op. cit., note 8 above, p. 125.

35 Ibid., p. 207.

36 Ibid., p. 126, ftn 225.

37 Slack, op. cit., note 31 above, p. 26.

38 Documenta Geigy: scientific tables, Basel, J R Geigy, 1962, pp. 186–8.

39 The mean number of issued wills per month in the years 1520–1534 was 1.5. The probability that any month contains d. wills is which for d=5 would be 0.001. if more than 5 deaths are observed in a month the assumption that this has happened by chance can be rejected quite convincingly. The probability of observing 17 deaths in one month is extremely small.

40 John Christiansen; ‘Den engelske svedesyge. En analyse af epidemien i Danmark i 1529’ (with an English summary), Historisk Tidsskrift, 2005, 105: 80–96.

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