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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.

  leather hat mask glass eye beak gown gloves leather gloves wooden stick wooden stick boots bootsplague doctor image copyright www.historyonthenet.com no unauthorised copying allowed

Image H Y Wheeler - no unauthorised copying allowed



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