Sweating Sickness Haiku

You think you’re hot shit?

Too bad weird mystery plagues

Don’t give a sweet damn.

I’ve been sick as a dog lately. I’ve been miserable as fuck. Be that as it may, my knowledge of history has helped me acknowledge that welp, it could be worse.

For example, I don’t have to worry about a mysterious sickness that kept cropping up in England for the better part of a century, only to disappear forevermore. Namely, the sweating sickness.

It would creep on you suddenly. You’d feel apprehensive, then cold, then giddy, then aching in your shoulders and head. Then the sweating and delirium would start, followed by a need to sleep – and if you gave in, death would follow. And say what you will about smallpox, but if you survived one round of that, you were good to go. Sweating sickness? Nah, it could get you a whole mess of times before you finally died.

We don’t really know where the disease came from, or why it went away. The best guess for the former is that it was a stowaway that came along with the future Henry VII’s mercenary troops as they crossed over the Channel to face down Richard III and HIS crew in 1485. (This is thought because the first major outbreak happened in London in the September after the showdown at Bosworth, during which thousands died. Must have made victory celebrations awkward.)

But it eventually died down. Only to crop up again. And again. And again. And a whole shitload of people died from it. The most historically significant? Possibly Prince Arthur. You know, Henry VIII’s big bro. (Catherine of Aragon, Arthur’s then-wife and Henry’s future wife, suffered through the same disease and survived.)

Thus, allowing the Drama Llama that was the reign of Henry VIII to eventually run riot o’er the land.

And then the sweating sickness made a final appearance in 1551 before disappearing entirely. Because hey, if you’re an ambitious disease, what more can you aspire to than indirectly causing the English Reformation?

This puts my piddly cold in perspective, but goddamn, I still feel like my skull’s been stuffed with cotton balls.

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