How Britain's media would respond to bubonic plague
BRITAIN’S highly responsible and scientifically literate newspapers had the best interests of the people in mind even 700 years ago. Here’s how they reacted to the Black Death:
SET OUR PEASANTS FREE
Keeping our honest serfs visiting each other’s hovels is a unfair curb on their freedom, even if they’ve got a few armpit buboes. When Gran dies from hideous boils too, that’s because she was suffering from the serious underlying medical condition of being 39.
TURNIP SOUP FOR ALL
A 14th-century version of Eat Out to Help Out sees barons praised to the high heavens. As the plague pits fill, Ye Medieval Sun runs six articles a day about how amazingly generous our noblemen were to give them a free shrivelled potato.
ONLY SINNERS NEED FEAR, SAYS PLAGUE SCEPTIC DOCTOR
The country’s press eagerly promotes various crackpots, mystics and beak-masked medics claiming the plague only hit sinners, blasphemers or Catholics, or weird theories that it was transmitted by seeing a magpie.
LYING MONKS IN IT FOR THEMSELVES
Teachers hadn’t been invented in 1346, so the Daily Mail hits out at anyone who can read. The debate is bitter and childish, with headlines like ‘Stay out of politics and stick to illuminated manuscripts, egghead monks told’ and ‘This monk is being PAID with YOUR tithes to chat to GOD every day’.
CHILDREN HIT BY LACK OF WITCH-BURNINGS
The hand-engraved press exploits any issue to undermine lockdown, such as kids’ deprivation of wholesome family days out to see Satan’s brides burned at the stake. They viciously oppose any other attempts to help children and insist that youngsters ‘have it easy these days’, labouring in the fields for just 16 hours a day and having sticks to play with.
NEW BABY JOY FOR EDWARD III
As swathes of the population are wiped out, the credulous are distracted by nauseating articles about Edward III’s new heir, or woodcuts of a hot female minstrel whose nose had only partially fallen off.