2 archaic A plague, epidemic, or crop blight.
- There were great murrains, or diseases, of sheep and cattle, which meant that the animals all died, adding to the misery of the starving people.
- Whole villages, ruined by murrains, pests, fires, or raids of new immigrants, were often abandoned by their inhabitants, who went anywhere in search of new abodes.
- The more mystically-minded clerics and chroniclers may have been confounded in their dire predictions of murrains, pestilence, and the imminent Second Coming (a comet sighted around 996 had been thought particularly propitious), but though Armageddon did not materialise, the reality was scarcely less awful.
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