The Epidemics of the Middle Ages

Justus HECKER (1795 - 1850) and John CAIUS (1510 - 1573), translated by Benjamin G. BABINGTON (1794 - 1866)

Justus Friedrich Carl Hecker (1795-1850) was a German physician and medical writer, whose research focused on the history of epidemics, in a broad sense of the term that included pandemics like the Black Death as well as the group of social phenomena known as dancing mania. The Epidemics of the Middle Ages comprises three of his works -- The Black Death, The Dancing Mania, and The Sweating Sickness -- translated by the English epidemiologist Benjamin Guy Babington. Despite what the name of the book may suggest, the events it describes are not limited to the Middle Ages.

The Black Death recounts the history of the bubonic plague in Europe, with particular attention to its cultural ramifications, such as the Flagellant movement and persecution of the Jews. The Dancing Mania describes mysterious social phenomena that occurred mainly in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries, in which groups of people engaged in apparently uncontrollable dancing. The nature of the dancing mania continues to be a subject of debate, and Hecker's book remains one of its most comprehensive descriptions. The Sweating Sickness was a series of epidemics that struck England and later continental Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. Hecker's account pays particular attention to its impact on political history.

Hecker's books were written before the germ theory of disease became widely accepted. While his accounts of epidemics are based on critical examination of historical evidence, modern readers are likely to disagree not only with his epidemiological theories, but also with his assessments of the evidence itself. These disagreements can provide a striking illustration of how the prevailing views of one's time may affect one's judgements about credibility of primary sources.

The audiobook includes appendices which contain source materials, including (for The Sweating Sickness) a 1552 treatise by the English physician John Caius and (for The Dancing Mania) examples of music as well as short texts in Latin, German, and the early modern German dialect of Cologne.(Summary by Kazbek)

Genre(s): Middle Ages/Middle History

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 General Preface Kazbek
Play 02 Hecker's Address to the Physicians of Germany Kazbek
Play 03 The Black Death. Translator's Preface Kazbek
Play 04 The Black Death. Preface Kazbek
Play 05 The Black Death. Chapter I, General Observations Kazbek
Play 06 The Black Death. Chapter II, The Disease Kazbek
Play 07 The Black Death. Chapter III, Causes--Spread Kazbek
Play 08 The Black Death. Chapter IV, Mortality Kazbek
Play 09 The Black Death. Chapter V, Moral Effects Kazbek
Play 10 The Black Death. Chapter VI, Physicians Kazbek
Play 11 The Black Death. Appendix I, The Ancient Song of the Flagellants Kazbek
Play 12 The Black Death. Appendix II, Examination of the Jews accused of poisoning the wells Kazbek
Play 13 The Dancing Mania. Translator's Preface Kazbek
Play 14 The Dancing Mania. Preface Kazbek
Play 15 The Dancing Mania. Chapter I, Dancing Mania in Germany and the Netherlands Kazbek
Play 16 The Dancing Mania. Chapter II, Dancing Mania in Italy Kazbek
Play 17 The Dancing Mania. Chapter III, Dancing Mania in Abyssinia Kazbek
Play 18 The Dancing Mania. Chapter IV, Sympathy Kazbek
Play 19 The Dancing Mania. Appendix I, [LATIN] Extract from "Vita Gregorii XI," &c. Kazbek
Play 20 The Dancing Mania. Appendix II, [LATIN] From "Chronicon Magnum," &c. Kazbek
Play 21 The Dancing Mania. Appendix III, [GERMAN] From "Die Limburger Chronik," &c. Kazbek
Play 22 The Dancing Mania. Appendix IV, [KÖLSCH] From "die Chronica van Coellen," &c. Kazbek
Play 23 The Dancing Mania. Appendix V, From "an Account of Convulsive Diseases in Scotland," &c. Kazbek
Play 24 The Dancing Mania. Appendix VI, Music for the Dance of the Tarantati, &c. Kazbek
Play 25 The Sweating Sickness. Preface Kazbek
Play 26 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter I, First Visitation. 1485 Kazbek
Play 27 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter II, Second Visitation. 1506 Kazbek
Play 28 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter III, Third Visitation. 1517 Kazbek
Play 29 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter IV, Fourth Visitation. 1528, 1529 (part 1) Kazbek
Play 30 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter IV, Fourth Visitation. 1528, 1529 (part 2) Kazbek
Play 31 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter IV, Fourth Visitation. 1528, 1529 (part 3) Kazbek
Play 32 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter IV, Fourth Visitation. 1528, 1529 (part 4) Kazbek
Play 33 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter V. Fifth Visitation. 1551 Kazbek
Play 34 The Sweating Sickness. Chapter VI. Sweating Sicknesses Kazbek
Play 35 The Sweating Sickness. Appendix. A Boke, or Counseill against the Disease commonly called the Sweate, or Sweatyng Sicknesse. By Jhon Caius Kazbek
Play 36 The Sweating Sickness. Appendix (continued) Kazbek