It was called “the English sweat”. He killed Prince Arthur Tudor, heir to the throne of England, in 1502. Catalina de Aragón, who married Enrique VIII years later, survived the mysterious illness. He jumped from country to country with strange behavior. It was not known before 1485, nor was it known again after 1552. What was the epidemic that attacked the rich in England?
Attacked young men
It was also called “sweat anglicus” or “sweaty pestis”. It was unusual. It has not attacked babies or toddlers. The majority of their victims were healthy young men from a good economic situation. The symptoms could be mistaken for a flu-like process. But within a few days the subject died or improved almost immediately. Excessive sweating was another symptom, hence the name.
The disease was closely related to England. Five waves were recorded in the XV and XVI centuries before they disappeared. The first clues can be found in an epidemic in 1485, affecting the fleet that transported the Duke of Richmond’s troops during the Two Roses War. The epidemic spread to English ports and cities.
The disease focused on the upper and middle social classes. It was said everywhere that it only affected the English. The mayor and his councilors were the first to die in London.
The epidemic was characterized by a high lethality. Some English cities have lost more than a third of their population. As soon as he arrived, “the English sweat” went. It only reappeared a decade later. In 1528 he finally made the leap to the European continent without leaving any logical trace.
Invasion of Europe
It first affected the French. Then to the Germans and it spread to Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and other countries. In any place, the infection did not last longer than a few weeks. It was gone before the end of the year. The epidemic also affected the Turks, who besieged the city of Vienna in 1529.
No further outbreaks with this name were registered after 1552. It is not known what type of illness it is. It is believed to be a hantavirus that causes severe lung diseases. It could be transmitted either from rodents or from person to person. The idea that it only affects the English is completely rejected and belongs to the world of myths. Poor hygiene in urban areas could be a cause.
The fact that it was particularly healthy subjects is not unusual. Influenza Panic spread worldwide in 2009. It had the highest incidence among healthy young people and adults. Why? There is an explanation. Healthy adults died of lung damage caused by an overreaction in their immune systems. Those affected had antibodies to ward off other influenza viruses. However, they were ineffective against H1N1. The reaction of these antibodies caused uncontrollable reactions that led to a direct attack on the lungs.
The epidemic that attacked the rich in England had a myth, but it was actually quite fatal. Every now and then mankind is plagued by another virus. And in the end it will always come out in front. Once again.