History shows humanity has come through much worse than coronavirus

From: Alan Chapman, Gawthorpe, Beck Lane, Bingley.

Eyam, near Sheffield., has been known as the 'plague village' ever since dwellers selflessly quarantined in order to prevent the spread of the bubonic plague in the 1660s. Over the course of 14 dreadful months, the plague wiped out almost 40% of the population as it killed 260 out of 700 villagers. However, the virus was contained and the residents were responsible for saving countless lives in larger towns to the north such as Chesterfield and Sheffield. Picture: SWNS

Historical enlightenment on our problems comes from an episode of BBC Four’s Michael Woods’ Story of England on The Great Famine and Black Death.

Its research comes from the village of Kibworth, Leicestershire. From 1290, the English weather went wrong with a mini ice-age, prolonged rain, and harsh winters lasting beyond Easter.

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The first signs of the famine emerged in 1302. This was followed by severe cold in 1314, a record wet late summer in 1315 and sheep rot on the farms; 1316 was very dry, producing rock hard ground and resulting in the worst harvest. Times were exceptionally tough; of England’s population of five million, half a million died.

In the same century far worse was to come. The Black Death started in India and was spread by rats, swept across the Middle East, through Asia Minor, and reached London 1348.

Much of England was severely affected during 1349. The population of six million was reduced to two to three million. The only solution then was crowd herding.

It is inconceivable to think of applying the same ratio of deaths in our new pandemic.

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