The idea of organized satanic witchcraft was invented in 15th-century Europe by church and state authorities, who at first had a hard time convincing regular folks it was real.
In medieval times natural phenomena, such as comets and eclipses, were regarded as portents of natural disasters, including plagues.
People have lived with infectious disease throughout the millennia, with culture and biology influencing each other. Archaeologists decode the stories told by bones and what accompanies them.
With the plague decimating the ranks of laborers, surviving workers started pining for higher wages. When the monarchy responded by enacting taxes and restrictive labor laws, the peasants rebelled.
Fun fact: the term 'influenza' comes from the premodern belief stars influenced disease. Before epidemiologists, there were astrologers.
Those experiencing stress and uncertainty amid the coronavirus may find guidance in medieval responses to plagues, which relied on both medicine and prayer.
The etymology of an epidemic.
The cities of Europe have experienced disease outbreaks for centuries, but they were able to bounce back using quarantine, economic stimulus and patience. Not all were successful.
Even in a world where 99% of the male population is dead, patriarchy is still a very comfortable pair of shoes and very easy to slip into.
Racism against fellow Indians and classism against the poor characterised India's early response to coronavirus, that is reminiscent of British imperial public health policies.
The 14th century Black Death pandemic catalysed enormous societal, economic, artistic and cultural reforms in Medieval Europe. Infectious disease pandemics can be major turning points in history.
Then – as now – the wealthy fled to the countryside, while the urban poor were forced to work on the front lines.
Ancient Greek philosophers including Plato likened civic leaders to doctors, creating a healthy society through balance and moderation. Those ideas feed into what we expect from leaders today.
The Greeks treated their city-states like bodies. To protect them from disasters, it was the poor that were often sacrificed.
Thucydides’ description of the plague that struck Athens in 430 BC is one of the great passages of Greek literature. It focusses on the social response, both of those who died and those who survived.
Usually when a leader handles a crisis poorly, it's politically costly. But President Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus crisis is not likely to hurt him, says an expert on health crises.
Western literature began with a plague and ever since, writers have been using pandemics to comment on society.
Greek epics remind audiences that leaders need to be able to plan for the future based on what has happened in the past. They need to understand cause and effect.
Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended pilgrimage to its holy sites. Many Muslims travel to these holy sites round the year for a pilgrimage known as Umrah. Here is what it means to their faith.
The official naming of COVID-19 has the tone of a committee decision. Historically, names for diseases have not been quite so well thought out and were more likely to offend.