The Earliest X-file: Mysterious Killer of the Tudor Era

Edwin, Ed, Wollert hails from the History of Science Department in Oregon State’s School of History, Philosophy, and Religion. Ed is a third year PhD student and is currently preparing his dissertation. His topic? A mysterious disease that affected Europe during the reign of House Tudor. Symptoms include: an intense episode of chills, giddiness, and pain followed by a stage of perceived heat, sweating, headache, delirium, unquenchable thirst, and exhaustion. Fatalities from this disease were swift with many deaths occurring within twenty-four hours. The unknown killer still evades historians today and is known as Sweating Sickness.

After pouring over documents at the British Library and National Archives last summer, Ed visited The George and Pilgrims Inn in Glastonbury. This is the site where the local abbot had to face the wrath of Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s...

After pouring over documents at the British Library and National Archives last summer, Ed visited The George and Pilgrims Inn in Glastonbury. This is the site where the local abbot had to face the wrath of Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s…

Imagine the challenge of studying a disease that has not affected Europe since its last outbreak in 1551. In his research, Ed works as a detective slowly uncovering clues about Sweating Sickness amid thousands of legal documents. Late fifteenth and early sixteenth century documents were constructed before a published unified code of grammar. Ed sifts through handwritten documents sometimes with a rough guidebook for deciphering vague descriptions of symptoms piecing together a possible agent or vector in retrospect.

Ed has dabbled in just about every field and his academic journey has lead him to many different locations around the United States and Internationally. He describes his pursuit of history as obeying an annoying curiosity. Originally trained in Philosophy with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from midwestern universities, Ed has served the past 13 years as an adjunct professor in Philosophy at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. That’s not all, he has a second Master’s in Medieval History from American Public History, and has authored two novels. When applying to Oregon State for his PhD, Ed came prepared with a proposal to ignite the curiosity of his major advisor Paul Kopperman. And the rest… is history.

Tune in to KBVR Corvallis 88.7 FM this Sunday at 7PM PST to hear from a true detective or stream the show live.

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