Catalogue

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The plague files : crisis management in sixteenth-century Seville /
Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook.
imprint
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c2009.
description
x, 296 p.
ISBN
080713404X (cloth : alk. paper), 9780807134047 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c2009.
isbn
080713404X (cloth : alk. paper)
9780807134047 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6804522
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
In the first half of the 1580s, Seville, Spain, confronted a series of potentially devastating crises: a brush with deadly contagion; the billeting of troops in preparation for Philip II's invasion of Portugal; crop failure and famine; an aborted uprising of the Moriscos (Christian converts from Islam); bankruptcy of the municipal government; the threat of pollution and contaminated water; and the disruption of commerce with the Indies. The Plague Files reconstructs daily life during this period in sixteenth-century Seville, exposing the difficult lives of ordinary citizens and shedding light on the municipal officials' struggles to find solutions to the emerging public health emergencies. Filling several gaps in the historiography of early modern Spain, this volume offers a history of both Seville's city government and of the medical profession in Andalusia. All levels of society enter the picture-from slaves to the local aristocracy. With the help of detailed records of city council deliberations, private and public correspondence, reports from physicians and apothecaries, and other primary sources, the authors recount Seville's story in the words of the people who lived it-the city's governor, the women innkeepers, the physicians who detail the nature of plague victims' symptoms. As this detailed micro history makes clear, in spite of numerous emergencies, Seville's bureaucracy functioned with relative normality, providing basic services necessary for the survival of her citizens. Cook and Cook's account of the travails of 1580s Seville provides an indispensable resource for those studying early modern Spain.
First Chapter
In the first half of the 1580s, Seville, Spain, confronted a series of potentially devastating crises: a brush with deadly contagion; the billeting of troops in preparation for Philip II's invasion of Portugal; crop failure and famine; an aborted uprising of the Moriscos (Christian converts from Islam); bankruptcy of the municipal government; the threat of pollution and contaminated water; and the disruption of commerce with the Indies. The Plague Files reconstructs daily life during this period in sixteenth-century Seville, exposing the difficult lives of ordinary citizens and shedding light on the municipal officials' struggles to find solutions to the emerging public health emergencies. Filling several gaps in the historiography of early modern Spain, this volume offers a history of both Seville's city government and of the medical profession in Andalusia. All levels of society enter the picture-from slaves to the local aristocracy. With the help of detailed records of city council deliberations, private and public correspondence, reports from physicians and apothecaries, and other primary sources, the authors recount Seville's story in the words of the people who lived it-the city's governor, the women innkeepers, the physicians who detail the nature of plague victims' symptoms. As this detailed micro history makes clear, in spite of numerous emergencies, Seville's bureaucracy functioned with relative normality, providing basic services necessary for the survival of her citizens. Cook and Cook's account of the travails of 1580s Seville provides an indispensable resource for those studying early modern Spain.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-03-01:
As the authors state, this book presents the debates and correspondence of the Seville city council from 1580 to 1583, the period when the Count of Villar, don Fernando de Torres y Portugal, served as royal governor. After explaining Seville's topographical features and the constitution of the city's governing council, the authors skillfully summarize the issues the council faced: water pipe breaks, fights over ceremonies with the Inquisition, prostitution, and outbreaks of illnesses (influenza in 1580 and bubonic plague in 1581 and 1582). The authors not only condense a mass of information into a lively summary, but also add important commentary. For example, they emphasize that one of the emergency plague hospitals was located in a mansion that had belonged to Fernando Columbus, the explorer's son and biographer. However, the authors make no effort to draw conclusions from the material they present, nor do they show why the events of these years in Seville had significance for the destiny of Spain or for the history of Western medicine. Should historians draw these conclusions, or are the authors right to let the documents alone speak? Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. T. S. Miller Salisbury University
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Choice, March 2010
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