Tudor Diseases

Hygiene was not a high priority in Tudor history, resulting in many diseases being at their most prevalent. Some of these are listed below.

Smallpox

An infectious disease caused by one of two variants ‘Variola Major’ and ‘Variola Minor’.

The symptoms included a rash that would spread across the entire body and blisters appearing on the skin filled with fluid.

Although many survived Smallpox, even when recovered they suffered from scarring on the skin.

Queen Elizabeth I suffered Smallpox during her early reign and in her later life she wore make-up to cover the scarring.

Tuberculosis

Also known as Consumption was an airborne disease spread between people by coughing and sneezing.

Symptoms included fever and night sweats, and sometimes weight loss. Lungs would fill with fluid and could result in a person coughing up blood.

Tuberculosis was almost always fatal.

Sweating Sickness

There were many epidemics of the sweating sickness in Tudor history.

Early symptoms included shivers, headaches, neck and shoulder pain and pains in the limbs. This was followed by fever and severe sweating.

Sweating Sickness was highly contagious and nearly always resulted in death, and this could happen very quickly, in as little as one or two hours.

Puerperal Fever

Also known as Childbed Fever, a bacterial infection suffered by women shortly after childbirth.

Symptoms included chills, headaches and abdominal pain.

There was no known cure for Childbed Fever, and the most well-known deaths were two of King Henry VIII’s wives, Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr.

Dysentery

Also known as The Bloody Flux.

Symptoms included fever, stomach cramps, dehydration and diarrhoea.
Dysentery could be spread person to person and from contaminated food and water.

Due to the poor hygiene in armies, it was a common cause of death in soldiers.

The Plague

Every few years the Plague, believed spread by the fleas of rats, would sweep through the country decimating the population.

There were three strains of the disease, Bubonic, Septicaemic and Pneumonic, however Bubonic was the most common.

The symptoms of Bubonic Plague were swellings on the skin, especially in the groin, armpit and neck areas, that would turn purple. People also suffered from both fever and chills, headaches, weakness and fatigue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked