Sanitation and Plagues of Elizabeth's England

Topics: Black Death, Elizabeth I of England, Infectious disease Pages: 3 (827 words) Published: April 16, 2002
In Elizabethan times, living conditions of an everyday townsman was quite indecent. Elizabethan's lived in houses that were extremely close to one another, which made it quite easy to disregard such a necessity to keep the streets and living surroundings clean.

People threw all of the waste outside of their windows, which included, their feces, dead cats and dogs, and also kitchen waste. Eventually, when it would rain, the rain would wash all of the rancid waste into local waters. There were "regulations against people washing clothes in or near waters used for drink, or against washing the entrails of beasts after slaughter"(Rowse 156). "…it is evident from innumerable documents how frequently they were broken" (Rowse 156). As long as people lived in small groups, isolated from each other, there were not many incidents of widespread disease. But as civilization progressed, people began clustering into cities. As the cities grew and became crowded, they also became the nesting places of water-borne, insect-borne, and skin-to-skin infectious diseases. The Elizabethans shared communal water, handled unwashed food, stepped in excrement from casual discharge of manure, and used urine for dyes, bleaches, and even treatment of wounds.

As A.L. Rowse mentions, "many of the citizens possessed chamber pots, usually made of tin, or close stools." The close stools were put in the cockloft, the sleeping quarters of the Elizabethans. This would obviously reek of horrible odors and force the townsmen to dump them as soon as possible into the slimy cobblestone streets.

Many rats and rodents flocked to the littered streets, finding morsels of anything that would satisfy their hunger. This is where the transportation of the plague would come to play. As the rodents feasted on the waste, the plague-infested fleas would jump to the nearest passerby. "The most devastating to England was the bubonic plague. Also known as, ""The Black Death", because of the black spots...

Cited: Miller, Liam and Evan Orr. "Elizabethan England: Plague". 14 Mar 2002
Rice, Aaron. "The Black Death: Bubonic Plague". David O. McKay School of Education, Bringham Young University. 8 Dec.1998. 14 mar. 2002
Rowse, A. L.. The Elizabethan Renaissance: The life of the Society. New York: Charles Scribner 's Sons, 1971.
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