The Stuarts - The Plague Doctor
People in the seventeenth
century did not know what caused the plague and many believed it was a
punishment from God. They did realise that coming into contact with those
infected increased the risk of contracting the disease yourself. Cures and
preventative measures were not at all effective.
|Suggested Preventions and Cures||How they were supposed to work||What they actually did|
|Carry Flowers or wear a strong perfume||The smells would help to ward away the disease||Nothing|
|Drink hot drinks||The victim would then sweat out the disease||Nothing|
|Carry a lucky charm||The charm would ward off the disease||Nothing|
|Use leeches to bleed the victim||This would remove infected blood||Nothing|
|Smoke a pipe of tobacco||The smoke would ward off the disease||Nothing|
|Give a strong dose of laxatives||This would cause the victim to completely empty his bowels, thus removing the disease.||Strong doses of laxatives can cause death from dehydration.|
|Coat the victims with mercury and place them in the oven.||The combination of mercury and heat from the oven would kill off the disease.||This could actually increase the likelihood of death - mercury is poisonous and the heat from the oven caused serious burns.|
Many doctors, knowing that they could do nothing for plague victims, simply didn't bother trying to treat the disease. Those that did made sure that they were as protected as possible from the disease by wearing the 'uniform' shown below.
Click on the picture to learn more about the clothing worn by the Plague Doctor.
Image © H Y Wheeler - no unauthorised copying allowed
|Read About the Great Plague
||Worksheet version of this page
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