Roman Fever

Malaria, Transalpine Travelers and the Eternal City


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About the Book

During the last 1500 years, Rome was the inspiration of artists, the coronation stage of German emperors, the distant desire of pilgrims, and the seat of the Roman popes. Yet Rome also lies within the northern range of P. falciparum malaria, the deadliest strain of the disease, against which northern Europeans had no intrinsic or acquired defenses. As a result, Rome lured a countless number of unacclimated transalpine Europeans to their deaths in the period from 500 to 1850 AD. This book examines how Rome’s allure to European visitors and its resident malaria species impacted the historical development of Europe. It covers the environmental and biological factors at play and focuses on two of the periods when malaria potentially had the greatest impact on the continent: the heyday of the medieval German Empire and its conflicts with the papacy (c. 800-1300) and the Protestant Reformation (c.1500). Through explorations into the history of religion, empire, disease, and culture, this book tells the story of how the veritable capital of the world became the graveyard of nations.

About the Author(s)

Benjamin Reilly is an environmental historian working at Carnegie Mellon University’s branch campus in Qatar. His publications have included French Revolutionary ideological discourse, information on lactose tolerance amongst Arabian Bedouins, and Europe’s long engagement with the Eternal City of Rome. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Benjamin Reilly

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 221
Bibliographic Info:47 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8655-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4395-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction 1

Part I: Malaria and Rome
1. The Nature of the Beast 8
2. Romulus’ Mistake 15
3. Assessing the Threat 25

Part II: Transalpine Europe and the Caput Mundi
4. Grave of Nations 36
5. To Roam/Rome 45
6. Dragon’s Lair 55
7. The Christmas Crown 63
8. Brood of Vipers 78
9. Imperium’s Price 93
10. Jubilee 103
11. Fullness of Power 115
12. From Scandal to Sack 125
13. The Scarlet Whore 139
14. Fork in the Road 147
15. Homecoming 157
16. Last Gasps 168

Conclusion 181
Chapter Notes 185
Bibliography 201
Index 209