According to the Germanist H. Wenzel, the medieval nobility employed pleasant fragrances to distinguish themselves from the rural population. This paper tries to argue that urban centres might rather be qualified as the aristocracy’s negative ‘point of reference’. It outlines how town gardens and municipal law in the form of sanitary regulations served as early measures to curb environmental pollution and to promote ‘public health’. The geographical focus will largely be on medieval England and Germany.
Tyrol, the mountainous area in the central part of the Alps forming a barrier between northern and southern Europe, has been devastated repeatedly by plagues and diseases in late-medieval and early-modern times. It seems, therefore, that, during these periods, both the Tyrol’s favourable position along trade and transport routes and its rising mining industry played an important role in the spread of plagues. Furthermore, the form and development of controlling epidemics relate to these two economic aspects. So far, there has been little investigation into several aspects of this topic; the author, therefore, intends to ask questions about the plague’s local appearance in late-mediaeval Tyrol, its economic and demographic consequences, and its management. This investigation begins with the appearance of Black Death and continues with several later epidemics up to the early sixteenth century.
Past research into medieval plague has covered the Black Death of 1348-51 in the first place, and concentrated, above all, on the immediate social responses given to and the economic and demographic consequences following from it. Subsequent epidemics have remained much less studied, especially in their religious and cultural effects where sermons must have played a significant role – as it is suggested by research on early modern plagues. One reason of this neglect may be related to the registration and transmission – and thus the availability – of such texts. The emergence, in written form, of a specific sermon type related to pestilence presupposes the institutionalisation of certain religious practices – liturgical or other – in the framework of which these texts could be used. The aim of the paper is to provide a preliminary survey of sermons de pestilentia and contra pestem, and to reflect on their diffusion and utilisation.