War, Suffering and Disease in a Rural Parish. The Case of Øster Løgum in Southern Denmark during the Thirty Years War

Mads Perner, Roskilde University

In the wars of early modern Europe, troops represented a major burden to the communities through which they passed. In part, this had to do with the taxes that they levied and their demand for food and housing, but they also brought communicable pathogens that spread rapidly among the local population. There are few cases where the available source material allow us to fully comprehend how rural communities were affected both during and after the presence of troops. One such case, however, is the parish of Øster Løgum, north of the market town of Aabenraa in the Duchy of Schleswig, now in southern Denmark. The parish lies close to the German border and when the Danish king entered the Thirty Years War on the Protestant side, Catholic forces quickly occupied the parish. What makes this parish special is an early parish register (starting in 1619) and a detailed map series from 1650 that covers each village with its individual farms and their tenants. In the 1620’s, following the arrival of the Catholic troops, Øster Løgum suffered two epidemics during which the vicar noted the cause of death with the letters B (blodsot, bloody diarrhea), maybe dysentery, and P (pestilentze), the plague. With family reconstitution, we can reconstruct the families of each farm and study, in promising detail, the spatial patterns of disease on a micro-level: from farm to farm and from village to village.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 16. Spatial Epidemiology