'Great Stenches, Horrible Sights and Deadly Abominations': Butchery and the Battle Against Plague in Late Medieval English Towns

Rawcliffe, Carole (2018) 'Great Stenches, Horrible Sights and Deadly Abominations': Butchery and the Battle Against Plague in Late Medieval English Towns. In: Plague and the City. Medical History . Routledge. ISBN 9781138326125

[thumbnail of Chapter] Microsoft Word (Chapter) - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 31 December 2099.

Request a copy


Focussing upon urban responses to the perceived hazards posed by butchers and butchery, this paper argues that sanitary measures promulgated throughout England from the 1350s onwards were based upon complex and sophisticated beliefs about human physiology and the dissemination of disease. The conviction that pestilence was spread by miasmatic air had widespread practical implications for a trade that generated large quantities of noisome waste and frequently stood charged with environmental pollution. Medical theories concerning the crucial role of diet in strengthening (or weakening) an individual's resistance to epidemics, as well as ideas regarding the transmission of toxins through the gaze, also prompted complaints about butchers, which in turn gave rise to the many regulations concerning their activities that feature so prominently in local and national records. These attempts to safeguard public health had a striking impact on the urban landscape, as new, purpose-built slaughterhouses were constructed on hygienic principles, and attempts were made to confine the worst aspects of butchery to peripheral areas. The disposal of offal and other noxious waste taxed authorities to the limit, and led to the development of special facilities for removal, which were designed to protect the urban water supply and keep the streets free of filth. At the same time, markets became cleaner and better organised with improved standards of supervision in order to ensure that poorer citizens could obtain cheap and uncontaminated cuts of meat.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 3 - good health and well-being,sdg 11 - sustainable cities and communities ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/good_health_and_well_being
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Medieval History
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 16 May 2016 10:00
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2021 17:27
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/58744

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item