Tuesday, 8 June 2010

So we know about the plague and how it affected millions of people across Europe, but today we will be looking at how the great historical figures dealt with the disease. When sickness kills people in their thousands, it can’t help but have some effect. So, we have already mentioned the Royalty and doctors, but how did some of history’s most famous people react to the plague?

As is evident but the mass exodus of anyone with money, not many people stuck around to witness the decay, but a few notables suffered terribly.

William Shakespeare was a particularly sad case, losing many family members to the plague, including his baby sisters Margaret and Joan, another younger sister, Anne, and his brother Edmund. He also lost his only son, Hamnet Shakespeare, when the boy was just eleven years old.

Scientist Sir Isaac Newton, who featured in The Dresskeeper, was in Cambridge lecturing at the university, but it wasn’t long before the effects of the disease reached him there. When the plague hit Cambridge, Newton promptly left for Lincolnshire. This wasn’t a bad thing, though, because he credited 1665-66 as the "prime age of [his] invention".

Sir Christopher Wren (famous architect, among many other things, who featured heavily in The Dresskeeper) was travelling around Europe at the time and escaped the worst of the disease. When the plague hit London in 1665, he was in Paris, absorbing the French architecture.

The Black Death of 1348 saw the death of a young royal. Joan (sometimes known as Joanna) of England was the favourite daughter of King Edward III. She was betrothed to marry King Pedro of Castille, the son of Alfonso XI and Maria of Portugal, and set off from England, no expense spared on her transportation. She travelled through France to get to her new home, and was apparently looking forward to her marriage when she was struck down by the plague. In the 1340s, the disease had yet to reach England, but was virulent in France. The poor teenage princess never made it to the alter and died alone in Bayonne.

That’s it for this time, but before I go, I just want to send a quick hello to all those people who have reviewed The Dresskeeper for Goodreads and Amazon, and for all your kind comments. I hope you like The Plaguemaker just as much.

All the best,