Mortality Rates

One of the hard things about imagining oneself in the middle ages, or writing a character who lives then, is figuring out the odds of them living at all.  The median lifespan of an individual living in the US was 78.7 years in 2010, unchanged since 2004. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm I’ve posted before about life expectancy in the Middle ages (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/life-expectancy-in-the-middle-ages/ and http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/child-mortality/), indicating that among the elite, both men and women–if they survived childhood–couldn’t reasonably expect to live out of their forties.  Some people did, but what were the mechanisms that kept mortality Read More…

Medieval Diseases

In the Middle Ages, the range of types of diseases was similar to what we experience today, with some exceptions (HIV/AIDS).   Viruses, of course, are no easier to combat now than then, but without vaccines and if the infected person was living in unclean or freezing conditions, or suffering from a poor diet, the disease was made that much worse.  Antibiotics help with some diseases, but then again, more have sprung up in response to them (C-diff). That said, these are some of the most common diseases people experienced in Read More…

The Black Death in Wales

The Black Death is generally understood to have been caused by the flea on a rat that appeared in Europe from Asia, having come from the steppes.  The Black Death came in three forms:  bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic, all caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis.    These three forms had a mortality rate of 30-75%, 90-95%, and 100% respectively. http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/fleas/bdeath/Black.html Skip Knox writes:  ‘The Black Death erupted in the Gobi Desert in the late 1320s. No one really knows why. The plague bacillus was alive and active long before that; Read More…