Sunday, October 17, 2021

Plague in the Renaissance: plus ca change...

Found while researching for a fantasy novel:

Much of the dread generated by epidemics was caused by the rigid restrictions on daily life, the threats and bullying of officials charged with enforcing them, and the abuses that inevitably resulted. The merchant Romolo Amaseo, writing from Bologna in September 1527, reported that the proclamations against the pestilence were “grandissima—very extreme” and that most of the citizens had tried to flee, “if they were not already dead or gravely ill.” 

Not surprisingly, people resented the restrictions. Even as a child, Leonardo would have looked on, terrified, as the health police rapped on people’s doors and demanded entry, burned their belongings in gigantic bonfires, and marched the infected off to the lazzaretto...

"The remedy they found for relieving the pestilence was this: they ended all those restrictions and let people live in their own way. They ordered the physicians to visit the people in their houses and the pharmacists to give them medicines. After this decree went out, the epidemic didn’t have as much force, and all of a sudden a great gladness grew in the hearts of the people and thus the plague was completely eradicated."

William Eamon: The Professor of Secrets (Scribd): Mystery, Medicine, and Alchemy in Renaissance Italy (Scribd)

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