What were (really) the worst years in history?

2020 is now over, and many have the feeling that it was one of the worst years in history. But are you really sure? We start from Ancient Greece, which could also include 1628 BC among its worst years, with the famous Minoan Eruption, on which, however, science has yet to provide sufficient answers to statistical analyzes to fully understand its extent. Then there are the war years, including both World Wars and, in any case, to make a comparison with the just ended 2020 is absolutely wrong. But the…

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The mysterious case of dance mania that broke out in Medieval Europe

St. John’s Dance, known historically as St. Vitus Dance, was a social phenomenon involving a type of dance mania that gripped mainland Europe between the 14 th and 17 th centuries. On this day, June 24 1374, just several decades after the Black Death swept across Europe, one of the most well-known major outbreaks of dance mania in Medieval Europe broke out in the German city of Aachen, even if it spread to Liege, Utrecht, Tongres and other towns up and down the Rhine. What was the problem? Afflicted individuals…

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The London’s plague pits map that shows where the Black Death victims got buried

Overcrowded, dirty and awash with sewage…it’s hardly surprising that the bubonic plague flourished in the crowded streets of London. Over 15% of London’s population was wiped out between 1665 and 1666 alone, or some 100,000 people in the space of two years. But where did all these bodies go?

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Why European plague doctors wore those strange beaked masks?

Four hundred years ago, dark figures with white beaks wandered the streets of Europe. But these were no boogeymen or other creepy figures, but healers, so dressed to stave off the current disease: the bubonic plague. The plague was once the most feared disease in the world, capable of killing hundreds of millions of people in seemingly unstoppable global pandemics and afflicting its victims with painfully swollen lymph nodes, blackened skin, and other macabre symptoms. Despite plagues were nothing new at the time, when outbreaks were routine in medieval Europe,…

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Is Saint Corona the patron saint of epidemics?

Did you know Aachen Cathedral, Western Germany, may be able to claim a special spiritual connection with the global coronavirus pandemic? It is said that the cathedral, one of Europe’s oldest, house the relics of Saint Corona herself. What’s more, Saint Corona is believed to be the patron saint of protection against plague. Ironically, locals had begun renewing its focus on Saint Corona more than a year ago, well before the novel virus had spread as a public health threat and, originally, Aachen Cathedral had planned to put the saint’s…

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Hong Kong and the sad echoes of the 1894 plague epidemic

While COVID-19 are stopping the world on current days, a 19th-century pandemic still haunts Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district. Nearly 130 years ago, the neighborhood was an epicenter of one of the deadliest pandemics on record, and like many former zone in which plague spread, the area still carries with it the weight of that tragedy. At the time the waterfront city was a British colony and vital port of trade. As such, it experienced a mass influx of mainland Chinese laborers, from tradespeople to servants, who came to the…

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The curious history of the Milan area that remained immune to the plague: an eccentric marquis, a witch or simply coal?

Before 1630 Milan had over one hundred thousand inhabitants. In 1632 there were forty-seven thousand. In the middle there was the most violent plague epidemic in the history of the city. In the peak period, the so-called “black death” killed nearly 1000 people a day. The Italian Plague of 1629–1631 was a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague which ravaged northern and central Italy. Often referred to as the Great Plague of Milan, it claimed possibly one million lives, or about 25% of the population. Historically, it seems that German…

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The remarkable story of Eyam’s self-quarantine in the 17th century

November 1st 1666, All Saints Day. The plague takes away its latest victim in the remote village of Eyam, England. One of the many deaths from the Great Plague of 1665/66, but not only. Because this twenty-year-old boy, the last of the 260 people in the village taken away from the disease, perhaps he would have had a chance to save himself, like others, if he had not accepted a very difficult but sensible decision, made approximately four months earlier from all the inhabitants of Eyam. From 1665 to 1666,…

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Friar’s Bush Graveyard: the big (and grisly) history of the oldest Christian burial ground in Belfast ~

The sense of ancient mystery enshrouding the old walled cemetery in south Belfast has long fascinated historians and local people alike. Though it’s only two acres in size, the oldest Christian burial ground in Belfast, Ireland, has seen more than its fair share of murder, body-snatching, and disease. Even the cemetery’s name, Friar’s Bush, came out of its bloodshed. With the foundation of Belfast in 1610, the site became a graveyard for people of all denominations, but especially for the increasing Catholic population drawn to the rising industrial city from…

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Anatori Burial Vaults: A tragic story of Khevsureti’s village.

The Anatori Vaults are a number of square slate structures located in a remote area in Georgia near the border of Chechnya, a land surrounded with lot of mysterious legends and folklore that captivate every visitor. This area of Georgia is wild and remote. Pagan “Ram’s Head” churches can still be found in this area and its proximity to Chechnya, a Russian republic, only adds fuel to the story’s fire…. We are in high mountains region Khevsureti, in the North direction from Tbilisi near the border of Russian republic. Distance…

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