I just found a reference to a leper colony in Cordoba south of the river during the 13th century. My characters are going to be journeying there in the next few adventures, and one of the characters is a specialist "healer" Magus. I'd like to work the colony into the adventure if possible. I think I'd like to get the Magus involved in order to challenge his ethics and possibly spread his reputation. Perhaps meet a Muslim healer, and have a bit of knowledge exchange.

  1. Any knowledge about how the colonies worked would be welcome. My knowledge stretches as far as what I learned about St. Francis of Assisi in Catholic School. Did the lepers walk the streets with bells around their necks, begging? Was that allowed? Or were they completely shunned? My main obstacle is how to get the characters aware of the colony in the first place. Once made aware, I think the healer will venture there out of duty, to "see what he can do...."

  2. any adventure seeds are welcome as well.

Have a great day!


I don't want to be one of those always-trust-Wikipedia people, but their article on leprosy is interesting, and their article on leper colonies contains both the traditional view (the colonies were prison camps designed to segregate the sick from the well) and an alternative view (not so bad, really).

Well, Henry II, King of Germany fom 1220-1235, had leprosy. Perhaps some agent of the king is also studying the colony and the Muslim doctors, and hilarity ensues? E.g., once the magus effects a cure, the king's men offer him a princely sum to heal the king. But, plausibly, the Code blocks that (or, perhaps the king's enemies do). A refusal pisses off the king's men, which is also against the Code. An acceptance pisses off the quaesitores, and/or the king's enemies.

Henry II was King of Germany 1002 to 1024. Mainly because of his founding the bishopric of Bamberg, he was declared a saint 1146, and his wife Kunigunde - who had to endure the ordeal of hot plough shares because of his suspiciousness - was sainted in 1200. No need to cure saints of leprosy in 1220. :wink:
You probably meant Henry (VII), 'den Klammer-Siebten', firstborn son of Emperor Friedrich II. 1220 Friedrich had made Henry King of Germany at the tender age of 9, but kept him prisoner from 1235 on after an attempted uprising against his father. Interestingly, one of the main then contentious issues was the persecution of heretics in Germany, which Friedrich II wished to be perfomed with far more rigor than his son.
Henry (VII) died on a transport from one castle to another near Melfi 1241. Chronicles (e. g. Matthaeus Paris) speak of suicide rumors, but also of possible other causes of his death.
It might fit the fantasies of some storyguides to have him die of leprosy in the deep, deep dungeon, then have his corpse be carried out and thrown into a chasm in a fake transport accident.

Kind regards,


I did indeed. But he could have had leprosy at that tender age, and someone could have been looking out for him from that early on. (Besides, I don't know when the saga is set.) Setting Henry aside, the basic story idea is just that some prominent person has leprosy, and the intercession of the magi on his behalf is sought.

Thanks gents. I do like the idea of introducing the noble-with-leprosy. The healer also has connections to many of the minor nobility in the Christian lands of Iberia, so this might fit in well. The nobleman will be Muslim, however.... Again, test the character's ethics. See where his loyalties lie, etc. Moral Mayhem ensues!!!

The campaign is currently in 1198, but by the mid-1220's, we might find him in Germany, with some business in the royal court....

I looked up the relevant article about the leprosy of Henry (VII) now:
paleopatologia.it/modules.ph ... cle&sid=45

I do not understand a third of its medical part, but as the facts it refers to apparently were also published in 'Lancet' (Fornaciari G, Mallegni F, De Leo P. The leprosy of Henry VII: incarceration or isolation? The Lancet 1999; 353: 758.), they ought to be sound.
The article summarizes its findings:
"We can conclude that this was a case of lepromatous leprosy, the most severe and diffused in the past, in quite advanced stage of development. The infection and clinical overture certainly started some years before the death and the disfiguring conditions of Henry VII must have obliged him to forced isolation, until his dramatic suicide.
On the basis of this scenario, not only does Frederick II appear less cruel, as a father, but he must also be absolved from the severe suspicion of his son’s murder."

From this, the fact that leprosy in young persons was hard to diagnose, the further fact that Friedrich had several sons to choose from for the difficult job of keeping Germany in order while he fought and ruled in Italy, and the lack of any reference in chronicles - also the many which are openly hostile to the Hohenstaufen - to Henry's leprosy, we can exclude that the disease was manifest and known before 1234 or 1235. For all we know Henry might also have contracted the disease in his father's prisons.

Kind regards,


You could also include mentiones of the Knights of Lazarus. The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem as they're called. Interesting case. Apparently, there were some members of the order afflicted with leprosy themselves. Don't know if it's true or not tho, but it makes for great stories!

Two more Internet sources about leprosy in history:

Global Project on the History of Leprosy leprosyhistory.org/english/englishhome.htm
with a very extensive bibliography:

The Dr. phil. thesis on
by ANTJE SCHELBERG, Göttingen 2000
should contain all you need to know on the subject, but requires that you can read German.
You can download it from:
perspicuitas.uni-essen.de/au ... elberg.pdf

Kind regards,


It looks convincing, except for the claim that he was unusually tall at 1.66cm.

People were midgets in the dark afore-time...

Cute lil'uns... This is where midget-tossing came from. Honest!