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Geneeskundeboek-Opmaak Binnenwerk-ENG.indd

Below: Text below the painting of the capuchins taking care of plague victims in Maastricht. Day chapel Sint Servaaskerk Maastricht. | Photo Appie Derks 53 Although medicine was powerless, town councils appointed People in the middle ages had no idea what caused pestilence plague doctors during epidemics. Their main task was to give and leprosy. But the social consequences of both diseases were advice about and oversee the execution of the Italian measures. dramatic. With leprosy only some stigmatised inhabitants were The plague doctors were therefore feared, but contact with afflicted but the plague affected the entire population. In the them was also avoided out of fear of infection. They could be background, the metaphorical scourge of God loomed large. identified by their attire as well as their hoods. The latter were Eventually, nature relented. In the fifteenth century leprosy not so much used for prevention as to carry herbs to make the spontaneously disappeared from Europe. And the last large malodorous smells of the plague more bearable. Today we know pestilence hit Marseille in 1720. that communication of the plague from human to human occurs only rarely if at all. In times of plague, rich people fled the towns to go to their country estates. The ring of sixteenth and seventeenth century castello’s around Pisa is one of the pleasant souvenirs of the plague. The clergy remained in the towns. Monks and nuns were charged with and paid for looking after people who were sick. The bishops and priests in the parishes shared the view of bad air as the cause of the plague, but they saw contamination methaphorically as moral and religious decay. That is why processions passed through the towns and people invoked plague saints like Sint Sebastianus, Sint Rochus and Carolus Borromeaus.


Geneeskundeboek-Opmaak Binnenwerk-ENG.indd
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