Ibn al-Khatib

(1313 - 1374)

Some five hundred years before Louis Pasteur proposed his germ theory of disease, Ibn al-Khatib—a poet, historian, and politician born in the emirate of Granada—determined that the bubonic plague was transmitted through contagion. After two periods of exile, he was sentenced to death by suffocation in 1374—officially for heresy, but likely because of his feuds with the ruling dynasty and current sultan of Morocco. His enemies threw his body into a bonfire after his death.

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