A recent study conducted on the remains of plague victims buried in London during the Black Death in 1348 has shed new light on the impact of the disease on different groups. The research suggests that women with Black African ancestry may have had a higher risk of death compared to others.
Contrary to the common perception of medieval England as a homogeneous white society, previous research has shown that the population was diverse, with people of various backgrounds residing in the country. In the case of London, there is evidence of individuals with Black African ancestry and dual heritage living in the city during that period.
The study, led by Dr Rebecca Redfern from the Museum of London, analyzed the remains of individuals buried at three different plague cemeteries in the city. By examining the skull features of the victims, such as the shape of the eye area, the researchers inferred the individuals’ probable affinity with different populations using a forensic databank.
The results revealed that a higher proportion of individuals with Black African heritage were found among the plague victims compared to those who died from other causes. Mathematical modeling further suggested that women with Black African heritage had a greater risk of dying from the plague than white individuals of similar ages.
The findings have drawn comparisons to the disparities seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on, it was observed that Black people were more likely to die from the virus than white people due to higher rates of infection. Similarly, in medieval England, issues surrounding heritage and socio-economic status could have influenced health outcomes during the Black Death.
This study underscores the importance of recognizing and understanding the diverse population of medieval England. It also highlights the potential impact of discrimination and hardships faced by women of color during that time, which could have made them more susceptible to disease.
While the research sample size is small, it opens up new avenues for further investigation into the impact of the plague on different groups throughout history. It is crucial to approach historical evidence objectively and avoid politicizing the findings to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the past.
Q: Were there people with Black African ancestry in medieval England?
A: Yes, previous research and archaeological evidence have shown that people with Black African ancestry and dual heritage lived in medieval England, including London.
Q: Did the Black Death affect different groups of people differently?
A: The recent study suggests that women with Black African ancestry may have had a higher risk of death from the Black Death compared to others.
Q: How was the study conducted?
A: The study analyzed the remains of individuals buried in three plague cemeteries in London during the Black Death. Researchers examined the skull features of the victims and inferred their probable affinity with different populations using a forensic databank.
Q: What are the implications of the study?
A: The findings highlight the diversity of medieval England and the potential impact of discrimination and hardships faced by women of color during the Black Death. It also emphasizes the need for objective analysis of historical evidence.