|Nostradamus, Famous Seer
and Plague Doctor
Source: English.Pravda.Ru Posted: 15:00 February 25, 2008
The costume of a butcher - the robe and the mask - is strongly associated with horror. The costume of the so-called Plague Doctor was used to terrify people even more. A person dressed as the Plague Doctor was an unmistakable sign of imminent death.
The Plague Doctor costume
The information about the first epidemic of plague dates back to the 6th century. The epidemic broke out in the Eastern Roman Empire under Emperor Justinian's rule. The emperor died of plague himself, and the epidemic became known as Plague of Justinian.
The largest epidemic of the deadly disease, the Black Death (1348-1351), arrived to Europe from the East. Plague was spreading all over Europe very quickly with the help of medieval ships and their rat-swarming holds. The cycle to spread the infection from flees to rats and from rats to fleas could continue until the disease killed all rats. Hungry flees subsequently transmitted the infection to humans. As a result, plague ravaged every single country of Western Europe; even Greenland was not left aside. Plague was moving at horse's speed - the most common way of transportation of those times. The pandemic killed from 25 to 40 million people.
No one was insured against plague. The disease killed French King Louis IX, the daughter of Louis X, Jeanne Navarre, and other outstanding figures.
Medieval doctors could not diagnose the disease properly at those times. It was generally believed that the disease was transmitted through a physical contact, via clothes and bed linen. The most infernal costume of the middle-ages, the Plague Doctor costume, appeared on the base of those views. Doctors were supposed to wear those costumes to visit their plague patients. The mask of the plague doctor - the bird beak and the leather hat - was supposed to make a person look like an Egyptian divinity to scare off the disease. The beak, however, was actually a protective device to save the doctor from the unbearable infected stench. The beak was filled with medical herbs to ease the breathing process. The mask had two vent holes and glass inserts to protect the eyes. The doctor was also wearing a long waxed raincoat and leather or thick fabric clothes to help him avoid flee bites and physical contacts with patients.
Michel de Nostradamus was probably the most renowned Plague Doctor - he is widely known as Nostradamus. He recommended his patients to drink only boiled water, to sleep in clean beds and to leave infected towns as soon as it was possible.
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