The historical past of syphilis is being rewritten by a medieval skeleton

Illustration of bone


Within the final days of the 1400s, a horrible epidemic swept via Europe. Women and men spiked sudden fevers. Their joints ached, they usually broke out in rashes that ripened into bursting boils. Ulcers ate away at their faces, collapsing their noses and jaws, working down their throats and airways, making it inconceivable to eat or drink. Survivors had been grossly disfigured. Unluckier victims died.

The an infection sped throughout the borders of a politically fractured panorama, from France into Italy, on to Switzerland and Germany, and north to the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Russia. The Holy Roman Emperor declared it a punishment from God. “Nothing might be extra critical than this curse, this barbarian poison,” an Italian historian wrote in 1495.

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