According to recently discovered journals, the 14th century's rat-feces-smeared men of science were at a total loss to explain how the Black Death was able to spread so quickly across Europe.
The rodent-gnawed documents, which were recovered by historians from various filthy sites in England and France, provide scholars with a unique glimpse into just how utterly perplexed rat-shit-soiled physicians were by the plague's rapid dissemination.
"Verily, as I brush'd a thin layer of vermin dung from my eyes to espy with clearer gaze, I saw to my amazement that our entire village had somehow run afoul of this vile and horrendous pox," doctor of physick Osbert Langley of Gloucester wrote in a journal entry dated Mar. 19, 1349. "I ran immediately home, swept the festering rats from my laboratory table, and set about devising an elixir of perry and gillyflowers to help combat whatever could possibly be causing this devilish epidemick."
Despite the 14th-century healers' attempts to link the Black Death's spread to either the alignment of the stars, God's anger, or the poisoning of wells by Jews, they never deduced within the excrement-stained pages of their journals the exact origin of the disease.
"The people of our hamlet were once plentyfull," physician Guillaume Faicheur of Marseilles wrote on Oct. 23, 1348. "As plentyfull as the droves of rodents that scurry about our streets and homes. But now we are hedg'd on all sides by the sick and the dying, and surely some unknown, diseas'd element is to blame. Any fool can see that. It is as plain as the fleas in the feculent water we drink, of which there are so very, very many."
A number of entries from late 1350 show that, as a final resort, the learned men of Europe planned to import thousands of rats from Asia Minor in an attempt to frighten the plague away.