What Made the Anglo-Saxons Capable of Conquering the Britons?

Mar 2015
1,422
Yorkshire
The Gaul argument probably derives ultimately from Gregory the Great's written account of the spread of the plague and the fact that Gaul is close to Britain. If we accept Halsall's concept of southern and eastern England being part of a North Sea zone in which ideas (as wella s goods and people) went both ways across the Channel, such a conclusion makes sense.

Bear in mind that at Edix Hill, the cemetery was in use for a long time and only about 15% of the graves have been examined. If the findings of the paper are representative of the cemetery as a whole (and they may or may not be), the actual number of plague victims would be significantly higher than the four currently identified. We have plenty of contemporaneous (and lurid) accounts of the impact of the plague around the Mediterranean, so I'd be careful about assuming that the impact was any lighter here.
Yes, you are correct - I agree that it is too early speculate given the small amount of data we have. However I would point out that here there very few multiple burials, vast majority are single graves and the dead have been properly honoured. We do not have a mass dump of victims in a shallow scraping which is more typical of Plague scenes and whilst they might flee initially, the village continues to be occupied for over a 150 years later.
 
Mar 2015
1,422
Yorkshire
It's the nature of the contact which could prove informative. Who would travel from the continent to visit a bunch of farmers in Cambridgeshire? There will be a story somewhere in there.
From the nature of the disease, it is more likely to be trade contact. A by-product of these studies could give us a better idea of the flow of trade in this period.

However, all this is very early days. The technique\s for identifying the Y Pestis in ancient populations were only developed a very short time ago.
 
Nov 2008
1,372
England
Yes, you are correct - I agree that it is too early speculate given the small amount of data we have. However I would point out that here there very few multiple burials, vast majority are single graves and the dead have been properly honoured. We do not have a mass dump of victims in a shallow scraping which is more typical of Plague scenes and whilst they might flee initially, the village continues to be occupied for over a 150 years later.
We have to bear in mind that we are dealing with a village not a city such as London in 1347. There was an outbreak of plague in the village of Eyam in Derbyshire, about 10 miles from where I live. The plague struck in 1665 and lasted until 1666. The death toll was about 260, and all the victims were buried in individual graves, but not all in the graveyard which had quickly filled. Indeed, some of these random graves can still be seen in the village.

In the Northern hemisphere, the plague was known to be active in the late Summer months.
This is fairly consistent with what happened at Eyam. The outbreak did indeed abate during the winter months, but it did not entirely disappear. The reason why the plague did not spread was due to the villagers, on the advice of the rector, William Mompesson, imposing a cordon sanitaire around the village.
 
Jan 2014
2,546
Westmorland
My understanding is that the Black Rat Flea can not breed on Humans - fleas are very particular about the type of blood. The flea which carries the YPestis plague will not even breed on different types of rat and it is postulated that one reason the Plague ceases after 150 years is not just immunity in the Human population but the growth of the Norwegian Rat population at the expense of the Black Rat.
Thank you for correcting me on that.

So, it has to be something on which a flea can survive for long enough to bite a human, having abandoned its black rat carrier?
 
Jan 2014
2,546
Westmorland
We have to bear in mind that we are dealing with a village not a city such as London in 1347. There was an outbreak of plague in the village of Eyam in Derbyshire, about 10 miles from where I live. The plague struck in 1665 and lasted until 1666. The death toll was about 260, and all the victims were buried in individual graves, but not all in the graveyard which had quickly filled. Indeed, some of these random graves can still be seen in the village.

This is fairly consistent with what happened at Eyam. The outbreak did indeed abate during the winter months, but it did not entirely disappear. The reason why the plague did not spread was due to the villagers, on the advice of the rector, William Mompesson, imposing a cordon sanitaire around the village.
Do we know what the population of Eyam was?

I remember hearing that the plague got to Eyam in a roll of cloth. Is that right? In light of Peccavi's comments, how did the plague survive once the infected fleas died? Did it get into the local rat population?

Delightful summary here about the various ways in which cats can cough plague over us...

Ecology and Transmission | Plague | CDC

I must go back to Rosen's Justinian's Flea. I'm sure he explains all but it's a while since I read it..
 
Nov 2008
1,372
England
Thank you for correcting me on that.

So, it has to be something on which a flea can survive for long enough to bite a human, having abandoned its black rat carrier?
See my previous post about Eyam. The plague infested fleas arrived in the village in some damp cloth imported from London. The first victim was a certain travelling tailor, George Viccars, and he was the person who opened the box containing the cloth. He died five or six days later.
 
Mar 2015
1,422
Yorkshire
We have to bear in mind that we are dealing with a village not a city such as London in 1347. There was an outbreak of plague in the village of Eyam in Derbyshire, about 10 miles from where I live. The plague struck in 1665 and lasted until 1666. The death toll was about 260, and all the victims were buried in individual graves, but not all in the graveyard which had quickly filled. Indeed, some of these random graves can still be seen in the village.



This is fairly consistent with what happened at Eyam. The outbreak did indeed abate during the winter months, but it did not entirely disappear. The reason why the plague did not spread was due to the villagers, on the advice of the rector, William Mompesson, imposing a cordon sanitaire around the village.
By the time of the Black Death, there were greater means for bureaucratic and authoritarian control of populations. In the case of Eyam, I understand the villages courageously decided to quarantine themselves. This stops the spread of the Plague but at the expense of increasing the local death rate. This makes sense for the region as whole but the individual is safer initially if he flees. Thus, it might be expected that in Byzantine controlled areas (and has we have seen where the Church was active), quarantine might be a preferred option - probably not the case in A-S areas at this time.

By contrast with Edix Hill, the Spanish victims in the survey, seemingly Christian, were not carefully buried but were tossed into Plague pits, containing 5, 6 or more victims - typical of the Black Death (Eyam was a bit unique in this respect).
 
Mar 2015
1,422
Yorkshire
Thank you for correcting me on that.

So, it has to be something on which a flea can survive for long enough to bite a human, having abandoned its black rat carrier?
Aelfwine is correct the flea Xenopsylla Cheopis can exist for a remarkably long time on cloth and grain but of course needs the host Ratus Ratus to breed. The consensus seems to be that Geoffrey of Tours was correct when he blamed the outbreak in his time on a consignment of cloth coming from Spain, arriving in Marseilles.

This flea is a delicate creature, needing the right conditions to breed successfully, and only accidentally biting humans.

A feral cat decided to take up residence in one of my daughter's barns. I was bitten in at least 30 places on both legs and also my granddaughter (who fed the damn thing) - we were the only unlucky ones. We had been attacked by cat fleas - never happened again once the vicious brute was chased off. Cat fleas which like the Balck Rat Flea fortunately can't exist for long on human blood.