Lecture 4 - Plague (II): Responses and Measures

author: Frank Snowden, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: Aug. 19, 2014,   recorded: January 2010,   views: 1418
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Community responses to the bubonic plague ranged from the flight of a privileged few to widespread panic and the persecution of foreigners and other stigmatized social groups. The suspicion of willful human agency in spreading the disease, identified with the work of poisoners, was a major source of anxiety. Mass religious revivals also accompanied the pandemic, with the emergence of new cults of saints and public forms of repentance. Official attempts to contain the second pandemic resulted in the first full-scale public health program, the plague regulations instituted by the Italian city-states, regulations that included military quarantines, compulsory burial, and imprisonment of the infected. It is unclear to what extent these measures, while representative of impressive technical and administrative advances, actually contributed to defeating the epidemic.

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