black_death_0212.jpgThe Bubonic plague is a plague that caused fever and painful swelling to the glands called Buboes. Rodents were the main cause of spreading the disease, although fleas can transmit the disease to humans. The disease can also cause spots, which initially are red and then turn black.
It all started with the fleas, they carried the bacteria that caused the plague in the blood they suck. If a flea bites an infected person or animal (usually rats) and then bites another person then they will get the plague also. The plague ended up killing around 75 million people.

Some of the symptoms are:
Abdominal pain
Red spots appear on the body
Diarrhea, which may be bloody
Decreased appetite
Tiny broken blood vessels (called Petechiae)
Black spot on chest
Big black swelling on armpits and at the tops of the legs. They get hard and painful and then in a day or two they will be dead

The plague also affected the theaters. All the theaters in London closed down because people could not gather together as there was fear of the plague spreading, therefore the acting companies all went bankrupt.

Queen Elizabeth was desperate to keep away from the plague so she implemented quarantine measures to try and ensure the safety of her courtier and herself. When the plague broke out in London in 1563, she moved her court to Windsor Castle. She ordered anyone coming from London to be hung. She also prohibited foreign goods as a measure to prevent the spread of disease.

Like any other person in that era, Shakespeare was terrified. He lost his sisters Joan, Margaret (Both just infants) and Anne (aged 7), His brother Edmund (aged 27). The worst loss he suffered was his son Hamnet who was 11. Nobody knows how many actors, directed, friends and acquaintances he lost but it would have been a large number.

There were people who were paid very well to watch the “plague houses” these men were called the watchmen.

Some of the treatments that were used were:
· Isolation
· Destroy the rodent population responsible for the outbreak.
· Throw herbs into fires to “clean the air.”
· Carry flowers in their pockets.
· Sit in the sewers so the smell of the sewer could drive away that of the plague.
· Drink ten year old treacle.
· Swallow powdered of crushed emeralds.
· Bloodletting.
· Drink their own urine.
· No sleeping through the day time.
· No physical intimacy.
· Avoid sad thoughts of death.
· Wash with vinegar and rose water.
· Didn’t eat meat or fish or figs.
· Burn all dead bodies.
· Pray.

A nursery rhyme that refers to the bubonic plague is Ring-a-ring-a-rosie.
· Ring a ring a rosie: This referred to first sign of the plague which is a red mark.
· A pocket full of Posies: This referred to the packets of herbs carried around to fend off infections.
· Atischoo, atischoo: the sneezing, which is another symptom.
· We all fall down: This was death and it would kill anyone, rich or poor, young or old.