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What was sweating sickness – the mysterious Tudor plague of Wolf Hall?

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Publication date6/02/2015
JournalThe Conversation
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In the first episode of BBC historical drama Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s novel of the same name, Thomas Cromwell returns home to find his wife and two daughters have all died during the night, victims of a pestilence – the “sweating sickness” – that is scything through the Tudor world.

The speed of onset of this disease, which saw victims literally being well today and dead tomorrow, and its relentlessly high mortality rate gave the sweating sickness the same aura of terror that we attach to Ebola today.