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Thread: Yellow plague

  1. #1
    Caryl Gill

    Exclamation Yellow plague

    Hae seen reference to the yellow plage (circa 700/800). Has anyone any ideas what this was


  2. #2
    Guy Etchells


    In a word no; I assume you are referring to the epidemic of 664 (which coincided with an eclipse of the sun).
    The Encyclopedia of Plague & Pestilence (George C. Kohn isbn - 1-85326-753-8) states
    "The term "yellow plague" was not used by contemporaries to describe this pestilence, but was employed by later writers, who apparently assumed that the Irish Yello Plague ("buidhe conaill") of the 540s was the same disease as the pestilence of 664. It remains a matter of great debate among medical historians..."

    It has been suggested that it might have been smallpox.

  3. #3


    The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles are no greater use in identifying this.

    The Parker Chronicle of 664 records:
    "In this year there was an eclipse of the sun. Eorcenberht, king of Kent passed away. Colman and his companions went to his native land. In this year three was a great pestilence. Ceadda and Wilfred were consecrated and the same year Deusdedit passed away."

    The Laud Chronicle records for the same year:
    "In the year three was an eclipse of the sun on 3 May, and in this year came a great pestilence to the island of Britain. In the pestilence passed away bishop Tuda, he was buried at Wagele and Eocenberht, king of Kent passed away and Egbert, his son succeeded to the kingdom. Colman and his companions went to his native land. Ceadda and Wilfrid were consecrated and the same year archbishop Deusdedit passed away."

    Charlbury, Oxfordshire

  4. #4
    Caryl Gill

    Default Yellow Plague

    Thank you both for the clarification.

    I had seen that there was also a reference to Ireland, but unless it caused jaunduce couldn't work out why it was called yellow plague, thank you both. If it's smallpox then it seems to have been endemic in this country in the past.

    Thanks too for the refernce book - will also look that up.



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