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'English sweat': a disease that killed faster than the plague, and then just disappeared


Source: Ino pressa

At the end of the War of the Scarlet and White Rose, England was suddenly seized by an epidemic of English sweat. She took the lives of mostly strong men and killed faster than the plague. Guesses are still being built about this disease, writes Ino pressa.

Photo: Shutterstock

When, after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Henry VII of the Tudor dynasty entered London with his motley army of mercenaries, he brought with him a disaster that killed faster than the plague. Within a few hours, two burgomasters and several members of the city council died after participating in the feast.

An unknown disease went down in history as "English sweat". “English”, because the five waves of the epidemic have always started on the island. “Sweat” because foul-smelling fumes were one of the characteristic symptoms.

John Kaye, personal physician at the English court, detailed the course of the disease. According to him, only a few hours later the “cold stage” with chills, dizziness, headaches and joint pains was followed by the “hot stage”, the characteristic signs of which were intense thirst, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, confusion and foul-smelling drops of sweat the size of millet, covering the entire body.

“Some had nosebleeds until they lost consciousness, others had such a severe runny nose that they nearly lost their hearing,” one eyewitness listed other symptoms of the disease.

People were horrified by the fact that the English sweat took away the lives of mostly strong young men. Also, the privileged living conditions of the upper class did not save them from infection. Many nobles, most notably Henry VIII, fled to rural areas. But even there, many became victims of the epidemic. The king managed to avoid the disease, but his wife Anne Boleyn was among the most famous people who contracted the disease. Although she recovered, this did not save her from the scaffold where her husband had sent her in 1536.

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A few months later, the disease disappeared as quickly as it appeared. After 1485, she returned in 1507,1517, 1527-29 and 1551/52. After 1517 England became insufficient for her, and she collected tribute throughout Europe, killing half the population in some cities.

Against the fact that it was poisoning with infected cereals, ergot, says the epidemic course of the disease. The reported death of birds during the European pandemic between 1527 and 1529 suggests that it was an aggressive form of avian influenza. The fact that the victims of the disease were mostly young, strong men is reminiscent of the Spanish flu, which fell victim to millions from 1918 to 1920.

In contrast to the idea of ​​a flu epidemic, a version of an infection caused by hantaviruses has recently been proposed. They are carried through rodent feces and can cause fever, headaches, joint pains, and stomach, intestinal and kidney problems. The incubation period is similar to the incubation period for English sweat.

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Although a man allegedly died of hantavirus a few days ago in China, these viruses are considered significantly less infectious than influenza viruses. But it is also possible that at one time the atrocities were created by their especially aggressive form.

To the surprise and joy of contemporaries, English sweat simply disappeared in the second half of the 150th century. Instead, XNUMX years later, a disease suddenly appeared in France, which had certain similarities with him and was called "Picardian sweat".

However, this disease was less likely to be fatal. About 200 regional outbreaks of the disease were recorded, and at the beginning of the XNUMXth century it also disappeared.

Did the pathogen mutate, did people develop immunity after several generations, or did changes in external conditions contribute to the fact that both diseases left Europe? This also applies to the plague, which disappeared on the continent after its last major outbreak in 1720-1722 in Marseilles, in order to hide in Asia and Africa. Maybe COVID-19 will do us a favor and disappear as easily as it appeared.

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