Life in a time of pestilence : the great Castilian plague of 1596-1601
Cambridge University Press 2019EISBN 9781108632720
From the Middle Ages onwards, deadly epidemics swept through portions of Spain repeatedly, but the Castilian Plague at the end of the sixteenth century was especially terrible. In late 1596, a ship carrying the plague docked in Santander, and over the next five years the disease killed some 500,000 people in Castile, around 10 percent of the population. Plague is traditionally understood to have triggered chaos and madness. By contrast, Ruth Mackay focuses on the sites of everyday life, exploring how beliefs, practices, laws, and relationships endured even under the onslaught of disease. She takes an original and holistic approach to understanding the impact of plague, and explores how the epidemic was understood and managed by everyday people. Offering a fresh perspective on the social, political, and economic history of Spain, this original and engaging book demonstrates how, even in the midst of chaos, life carried on.