Syphilis in Shakespeare's England
The emergence of syphilis in Europe at the end of the fifteenth century had a profound influence on the history of Western civilization during the Renaissance. The author's assertion that syphilis was as widespread in England as in the rest of Europe challenges generally accepted views in the field. Working from primary sources, he shows how syphilis spread across the country, what its effect was, the range of cures that were used, and what preventive measures were taken against it. He shows how syphilis brought about a profound change of manners and morals during the Renaissance, leading to an emphasis on monogamy, premarital chastity and absolute fidelity within marriage.
He suggests that, in many ways, the emergence of syphilis has numerous parallels with our latest venereal epidemic, AIDS. There are many indications that a similar change is taking place in our modern world, and that a moral reaction rivalling that of the Reformation may be on its way.
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