Women of the plague

In 1665, bubonic plague ravaged London, killing tens of thousands. Scores of Londoners documented the outbreak but few reported on the experiences of women. Here – telling the story of the victims, the survivors and those charged with working with the dead and dying – Rebecca Rideal seeks to redress the balance...

Vienna Plague Hospital, 1679. (Getty Images)

This article was first published in the August 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine 

The reviled nurses

During the long, grim months of 1665, bubonic plague rampaged through the city of London. As thousands lay sick and dying, someone had to perform the unenviable job of nursing the afflicted through the last moments of their lives. That task invariably fell to women.

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