Black Death Rakes

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Here are some accounts of the Black Death found in the book The Black Death by Rosemay Horrox.

The Writ

A Rake from London

Þe cƿild, hƿic first began in þe land of þe Sarakens, greƿ so strong þat, sparing no lordscip, it neesed eferig stead in all þe kingdoms streccing from þat land norðƿards, up to and inning Skotland, striking dune þe greater dele of þe folk ƿið þe bloƿs of sƿift deað. It began in England in þe scire of Dorset, umb þe simbel of Halloƿ Peter in Fetters, and forðƿið ƿent on ƿiðute ƿarning from stead to stead. It killed a great manig helðig folk, taking em from þe ƿorld of mans cares in þe span of a morning. Þose marked for deað ƿere seldomlig geefen leef to lif longer þan þree or four dags. It scoƿed hield to no one, but a small feƿ of þe ƿelðig. On þe same dag tƿentig, fortig, or sixtig bodies, and often manig more, migt be laged dune for berriging togeðer in þe same pit. Þe cƿild came to London at abute þe simbel of All Halloƿs and daglig benimmed manig of life. It greƿ so strong þat, betƿeen Candelmas and Easter, more þan tƿo hundred licces ƿere berried almost eferig dag in þe neƿ grafe grund made next to Smiðfield, and þis ƿas in eking to þe bodies berried in oðer circgeards in þe boroug. It stopped in London ƿið þe cumming of þe east of þe Holig Goast, þat is to sag at Hƿite Sundag, going forð unhindered toƿards þe norð, hƿere it also stopped nige Mickaelmas in MCCCXLIX.

A Rake from Bristol

In MCCCXLVIII, umb þe simbel of Halloƿ Peter in Fetters, þe first cƿild came to England at Bristol, born bi ceapmen and saglers, and it lasted in þe suðe lands umb Bristol þrugeute ƿeedmonð and all ƿinter. And in þe folloƿing gere, þat is to sag in MCCCXLIX, þe cƿild began in þe oðer scires of England and lasted for a hƿole gere ƿið þe utecum being þat þe lifing culd hardlig berrig þe ded.

A Rake from Geork

In MCCCXLVIII, umb Michaelmas, þere began a dieing of men in England. After Cristmas, on þe XXXI of Eregeƿl, þe ea called Use flooded and burst its banks at þe bridg toƿards Mickelgate, a befalling hƿic lasted until Lent. And after þis, at umb risingtide, þe dieing began in þe boroug of Eferƿic and ƿooded until þe simbel of Halloƿ James.

A Rake from Thomas Ƿalsingham

Þis gere þere ƿas a great dunegeeting hƿic lasted from midsummer to þe folloƿing Cristmas, and it ƿas spedilig folloƿed bi a great ding in þe east among þe Sarakens and oðer unbeleefers. It ƿas so great þat hardlig a tenð of þe Sarakens ƿere left alife, and hie, þinking þat þe cƿild had been sent to em for þeger unbeleef, hƿarfed to þe leef of Crist. But hƿen þeg fund þat þe same cƿild ƿoded among Cristens þeg ƿent back to þeger unbeleef like dogs to þeger speƿ. In MCCCXLIX, þat is in þe XXIII gere of þe ƿield of King Edƿard III, a great killing ƿent forð þrugeute þe ƿorld, beginning in þe suðern and norðern lands. Its bane ƿas so great þat hardlig half of mankind ƿas left alife. Tunes ones brimming ƿið folk ƿere emptied of þeger dƿellers, and þe cƿild spread so þicklig þat þe lifing culd hardlig berrig þe ded. It ƿas reckoned bi a handful of men þat barelig a tenð of mankind belifed alife. A great dieing of deres folloƿed on þe heles of þis cƿild. Gafels dƿindeled and land ƿas left untilled for ƿant of neet hƿo ƿere nohƿere to be fund. And so muc ƿreccedness folloƿed þese ills þat afterƿards þe ƿorld culd nefer go back to its former hoad. Meenhƿile, as þe cƿild ƿoded in England, Pope Clement eaded, oƿing to þe great sickness, full forgeefness for deedboot to all þose þrugeute þe kingdom hƿo died treƿlig sorrig after þeger andettings.

A Rake from Skotland

In MCCCL þere ƿas a great cƿild and dieing of men in þe kingdom of Skotland, and þis cƿild also ƿoded for manig geres before and after þis in sundrig steads of þe ƿorld, indeed, þrugeute þe hƿole þoðer. So great a cƿild has nefer been herd of from þe beginning of þe ƿorld to þe anƿard dag, or been ƿritten dune in books. For þis cƿild bleƿ its illƿill so þorouglig þat fullig a þird of mankind ƿas killed. At Gods bidding, moreofer, þe bane ƿas done bi a ferlig and neƿ scape of deað. Þose hƿo fell sick of a kind of gross sƿelling of þe flesc lasted for barelig tƿo dags. Þis sickness befell folk eferighƿere, but hure þe middelling and loƿer ilks, seldomlig þe great. It begat suc grore þat cildren did not dare to neese þeger dieing kends, nor did kends neese þeger cildren, but fled for fere of coað fanging as if from leprosy or a nadder.