Did Early Christian Clergy Help Spread Syphilis?
In 1492 CE an Italian explorer named Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) sailed from Palos de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain, on his first of four voyages hoping to reach the East Indies via a westward route. His expedition consisted of Ninety men on three ships, the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. The voyage came about with the patronage of the Spanish Royals so titled “La Católica/The Catholic” by Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) in 1494. Who financed the expedition with the men and the ships named above.
Well, he did not find the Indies. Instead, he found a route to the Americas. We know now that he was not the discoverer of America—that honour belonged to a Welsh Prince.
https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofWales/The-discovery-of-America-by-Welsh-Prince/ However, the Vikings also have a claim with Leif Erikson’s Vinland.
Columbus’s voyage would be a disaster for the native people of the Americas that came in contact with the European explorers. For Columbus and his ninety man party, they did not come in peace or friendship nor even with goodwill. They came not bearing gifts for they sought El Dorado. For their sponsorship for the expedition “La Católica” wanted a handsome return on their investment. Gold and silver and anything that created wealth to feed their insatiable greed. Even slaved brought gold and silver to their royal coffers.
Columbus’ crew did, however, take with them all the diseases that plagued the Old World. Deadly (microbe) diseases such as smallpox, measles, typhus, malaria, and influenza that were foreign to the immune system of the indigenous people of the New World. Tens of thousands died in Hispaniola itself, the indigenous Taíno people went from a population of 250,000 to 12,500 (lost 95% of its population) died between 1492-1517.
I omitted one disease that plagued Europe from 1493 (?) onward, which was blamed on the native Americans. A disease they said Columbus and his men supposedly brought back to Europe from the Americas—Syphilis!
However, since 2017 we know that the syphilis plague of the late 15th-century Europe onward was not a contagion carried from the New World to Europe—that was a myth!
Kingston upon Hull, England
When the city planners decided to build a new magistrate’s court next to a multi-story car part in Hull city centre. The local Archaeological unit had the opportunity to survey the site for ancient remains and artefacts. Working within a limited time frame as they suspected a medieval friary remains on the site. By the end of the dig, they had unearthed more than 240 skeletons and numerous artefacts. It was a heady mix of religion and riches, medicine and morality, sex and disease. The archaeology excavation site unearthed a complete ground plan for a medieval Monastery. Which was almost unheard of and is a significant piece of archaeological discovery. Fortunately, the site preservation conditions were excellent. Finds, such as textile fragments, wood coffins, leather objects and bodies (skeletons) still wearing their shoes. The priory was one of the first to be established in England, and in 1539, probably the last to be destroyed under Henry VIII’s (1509-47) Reformation.
One skeleton from the Hull archaeology site, in particular, was set to rewrite history. That of skeleton No 1216, which was of a male between 25 and 35 years of age. An expert in Paleopathology (the archaeology of disease) stating that there were signs of syphilis in more than 60% of the bodies. That would mean of the 240 bodies exhumed on-site a 144 showed signs of having the classic cases of Venereal Syphilis. Not forgetting that these people buried within the sanctuary walls of a deeply religious celibate community, the order of Augustinian Friars. Also, venereal syphilis is transmitted through sexual intercourse, so the vast majority of the infectious being friars. With a few possibly rich merchants who paid handsomely for the privilege to be buried closer to God when they died. The site in Hull uncovered large collection of imported wine jugs, evidence that at least some of the carousing was going on within the friary walls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWNF_eNwvI
Carousing, which seems to be the norm for religious establishments as the Saxon Chronicle (SC) of the “E” manuscript Modern Englisce Translation states:
SC entry for year 852. About this time Abbot Ceolred of Medhamsted (Peterborough), with the concurrence of the monks, let to hand the land of Sempringham to Wulfred, with the provision, that after his demise the said land should revert to the monastery; that Wulfred should give the land of Sleaford to Meohamsted [sic], and should send each year into the monastery sixty loads of wood, twelve loads of coal, six loads of peat, two tuns full of fine ale, two neats’ carcases**, six hundred loaves, and ten kilderkins* of Welsh ale; one horse also each year, and thirty shillings, and one night’s entertainment. [Saxon Chronicle entry for 852 CE, translated from the original by Rev. James Ingram (1774-1850)] The brackets ( ) [sic] and emphasis (highlight) are my own.
* Kilderkin equals 18 Imperial Gallons = 144 pints.
**twa slægnæt/two neats’ carcases = slaughtered ewes.
One night’s entertainment on top of all this excellent Welsh ale can make the mind boggle to what these supposedly celibate Monks got up to in those days of old? With experts saying that the Monks of old drank four times more wine/beers than the common folk, and now with the evidence of Hull, we can say we have a good idea what they did for entertainment or what they were up to on their leisure time!
Why we say it is a myth! It is claiming that the native Americans gave Columbus and his men syphilis on their voyage of discovery arriving back in Europe/Spain in 1493.
Skeleton No 1216, had a bone sample taken and radiocarbon (14C) tested. His wooden coffin also tested by dendrochronology dated (1340-136o). Both results came back to the 1300s, but of course, this information from the site in Hull has sent shockwaves through the archaeological and historical worlds. Because syphilis is not supposed to have been in Britain or Europe until Columbus’ return from the Americas in 1493. One of the preeminent American scholars rejected this claim; however, the Smithsonian institute has sided with the British Paleopathologist. Since the discovery of syphilis in Hull 100 years or more before Columbus, other archaeologists have looked more closely at their earlier finds. They have discovered that many of the people in Pompeii and ancient Greece more than 2,000 years ago had signs of syphilis, which vindicated the Native Americans as the cause of the syphilis plague.
History has shown that monks and clergy not only in England but, clerics throughout Europe suffered from Syphilis.
Nota bene. Syphilis is mainly spread through close contact with an infected sore. This usually happens during vaginal, anal or oral sex, or by sharing sex toys with someone who’s infected. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/syphilis/
As you can see the brethren of old are no different from those of today, hiding behind a clerical mask and feigning celibacy by taking part in sexual pleasures that they claim is SIN!
What do you say?