Plague Doctor : Everything You Need To Know

plague doctor


The Black Death, the Grim Reaper decimating medieval Europe, God’s punishment for sins, touching kings, priests, peasants and commoners alike. The event is associated with dancing skeletons and doctors with bird-like beaks.

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Origin and spread of the Plague


The mysterious black death was the epidemic of the bubonic plague. The infection came to Europe along the Great Silk Road from China in the 14th century. It had probably reached Europe through Sicily of Genoese trade ships. There were infected people on the deck, including those with a fatal outcome, but the main danger was that, together with the crew members, the main carriers of the infection, the rats, set foot on land.

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Medieval thinking and medication

facts about plague doctor

The principle botch was the conviction that the bubonic plague is transmitted starting with one individual then onto the next because of physical contact, consequently the strategies for treatment and the ensemble of the “dark specialist”. Actually, this plague spread through the chomps of insects, rodents, contacts with an open injury and airborne beads. The ailment continued rapidly enough, without medicinal intercession, fever, sepsis started, and much of the time, all finished with the demise of the patient.

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Specialists of that time neither knew how the ailment spread nor how to battle it. It was fixed past the point of no return when it appeared to be difficult to do anything. The causative operators of the illness for a few centuries will stay obscure, treatment, all things considered, didn’t exist by any stretch of the imagination.

However unsanitary conditions, consistent ailing health and a decline in the physical opposition of the human body, absence of fundamental cleanliness abilities and swarmed populaces are the real contributors of the pestilence.

The Plague doctor

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The man we associate with this epidemic was a sign of death as he appeared on the streets of the plague-ridden 17th century Europe. The attire being invented by Charles de Lorm, who was the personal physician of the queen of France, Maria de Medici. The suit was based on the leather armor of the infantry of that time.

The most striking, apart from its long black coat from neck to floor, was the beak mask. It was associated with the ancient Egyptian God of wisdom and knowledge, Tom, who had the head of an ibis bird. It was believed that this resemblance also scares away the disease.

The beak was filled with medicinal herbs like mint, camphor, cloves, laudanum, myrrh, rose petals or storix which were supposed to alleviate the odor of rotting corpses. This was also to wash away the stench coming from the constant chewing of garlic as a preventive measure. The doctor also put incense in his nostrils and ear on a special purpose sponge. The beak had two small holes for ventilation to prevent suffocation.

The eyes were protected by glasses.  Often the long leather coats were layered with a mixture of camphor, oil, and wax.  In reality, this to some extent avoided the bite of the plague carriers – fleas and protected from a disease transmitted by airborne droplets, although this was not even suspected at that time.

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The doctor also wielded a wooden cane that could be used to touch the patients and was also seen as a means of repentance of the affected. As many believed that the plague was a punishment and they would have to be whipped to repent for their sins. He donned a black hat as well.

In addition to doctors, there were also so-called Mortus (special servants recruited from those who survived the plague or from convicted criminals) whose duty it was to collect the bodies of the dead and bring them to the burial site.

However sinister they looked, they were utterly respected in the European society for being selfless servants to go through the fatal disease consciously. They would also get employed and paid highly by the city authorities for serving the rich and the poor alike.

Perhaps the most famous Plague Doctor was Michel de Notre Dame, aka Nostradamus. This extraordinary astrologist, mistaken mathematician discouraged a technique used by the doctor, called bloodletting. He advised the burning of the corpses, staying outside in fresh air, drinking freshwater or rose brew.

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Plague doctor’s horrific treatments


Since specialists treating the bubonic plague were faced uniquely with the horrendous side effects and not a top to bottom comprehension of the infection, they frequently were permitted to lead post-mortem examinations. These, nonetheless, would in general yield nothing.

Plague specialists thus turned to some questionable, perilous, and incapacitating medications. Plague specialists were to a great extent inadequate, so they had less therapeutic information than “genuine” doctors who themselves bought into mistaken logical hypotheses. Medications at that point extended from the odd to the genuinely terrible.

They worked on covering buboes – discharge filled growths, the size of an egg, found on the neck, armpits, and crotch, which most likely spread further disease. They additionally went to phlebotomy and spearing the buboes to deplete the discharge. The two practices could be very excruciating, however the most agonizing was that of pouring mercury over the affected and putting them in a broiler. As anyone might expect, these endeavors frequently quickened passing and the spread of contamination by opening putrefying consume wounds and rankles.

Today we realize that the bubonic and resulting plagues like pneumonia were brought about by the microscopic organisms Yersinia pestis which was conveyed by rodents and the like in urban settings.

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Facts about Plague Doctor


  • The Black Plague killed 800 people a day in Paris alone. Around 50 million Europeans were wiped off.


  • The mask was similar to a birds beak because before people believed that the infection is carried by birds.


  • The name Black Death was of recent origin- because of its ability to turn the flesh black or the bleakness it caused the human race.


  • The Plague Doctors were a Back Death Myth because they were not around during the 14thcentury when the plague hit. They stepped in much later in the 17th


  • On January 10, 1897, a plague vaccine was first introduced by Russian microbiologist Vladimir Khavkin after he injected himself.


  • The Black Death might have helped instigate the Renaissance.


  • Only 2% in Poland died, thanks to polish quarantine and sulfur dioxide- Kwarantanna.


  • The year 2017 saw the recurrence of the plague in Madagascar.



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