Martin Rinkhart’s Hymns, 1636

Those who sow with tears    will reap with songs of joy.Those who go out weeping,    carrying seed to sow,will return with songs of joy,    carrying sheaves with them.– Psalm 126:5-6 Martin Rinkart was born in Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire on April 23, 1586. His father was a cooper, a relatively prosperous tradesman who sent his son toContinue reading “Martin Rinkhart’s Hymns, 1636”

The Yellow Plague of 664

“In this year, the sun was eclipsed on the 5th before the Nones of May [that is, May 1]…the same year, there was great pestilence in the island Britain.” – The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 664 “A great mortality in Ireland came on the kalends of August [August 1]” – The Annals of Tignerach, 664 The yearContinue reading “The Yellow Plague of 664”

The Plague of Eyam, 1666

In 1665, an outbreak of the bubonic plague struck London, crippling the life of the city and killing nearly a quarter of its half-million people. King Charles II, the royal family, the entire court, and anyone with enough money fled the city hoping to avoid contagion. In doing so, they carried the fleas that spreadContinue reading “The Plague of Eyam, 1666”

The Plague of Athens, 430 BCE

The Golden Age of Athens is the stuff of legends. The coalition of Greek city-states under Athenian leadership had defeated the invasion of the mighty Persian Empire in 478 BCE, and Athens continued to lead the anti-Persian Delian League alliance after the war. Tribute money from other cities flowed into Athens in the long periodContinue reading “The Plague of Athens, 430 BCE”

The Plague of Cyprian, 249-262

Around the year 249 CE, a pandemic broke out Africa that rapidly spread from Ethiopia to the Roman Empire. It reached Rome around 251, followed by Greece, before spreading east to Syria. The disease ebbed and flowed for the next twenty years; at its worst, the pandemic claimed as many as 5,000 people *per day*Continue reading “The Plague of Cyprian, 249-262”

Plague Hymn: Huldrych Zwingli, 1519

In 1519, a recurrence of the bubonic plague struck Switzerland. Huldrych Zwingli, pastor of the church of Grossmunster in the city of Zurich and a leader in the Protestant Reformation, was on vacation when the plague struck his city; he rushed home to minister to the sick and dying of his parish. Near the peakContinue reading “Plague Hymn: Huldrych Zwingli, 1519”

The Caladrius

This bird is a caladrius. It might be based on real bird, based on classical descriptions, but by the Middle Ages, the caladrius had become a mythical bird associated with sickness. It was said that by a look, the caladrius could tell if a sick person would live or die. From the Aberdeen Bestiary, whichContinue reading “The Caladrius”

Primary Sources for the Present Crisis

The past is prologue. – William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 2, Scene I, 1610-11. The novel coronavirus is EVERYWHERE. Most of the world is in quarantine. This pandemic is slaying our people, stifling our culture, and shutting down our societies. Media outlets of all sources are talking about how ‘new’ this is, how unprecedented, howContinue reading “Primary Sources for the Present Crisis”