Tag Archives: Bubonic Plague

Epidemics from plague to Coronavirus

Michael Yafi Houston, Texas, United States   Copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel [i.e Dr. Beak], a plague doctor in seventeenth-century Rome. From the Internet Archive’s copy of Eugen Hollände Die Karikatur und Satire in der Medizin: Medico-Kunsthistorische Studie von Professor Dr. Eugen Holländer. circa 1656. Throughout history humanity has faced many epidemics and pandemics that caused […]

Fleas in art and medicine

Fleas cause itching and red bite marks on their hosts but are nowadays mainly a nuisance. This was not always so. In the Middle Ages they spread bubonic plague from rats to man, causing the Black Death epidemics that killed 25 million people—up to 50% of the Europe’s population. They also transmit the agents causing […]

The Plague of Ashdod, by Nicholas Poussin

The Plague of Ashdod, Poussin’s famous painting of 1630, is based on the Old Testament account of an epidemic affecting the Philistines after they had captured the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites and moved it to their coastal city of Ashdod. According to Samuel 1:5, the Lord first destroyed the statue of their […]

John Calvin: his rule in Geneva and his many illnesses

At the age of twenty-three the great French religious reformer abandoned his Catholic faith, becoming in time the founder of one of the most important branches of Protestantism. During his life he wrote numerous tracts on various aspects of religion, notably emphasizing predestination and the supremacy of the Trinity, and advocating a simpler and more […]

Preparing for a zombie apocalypse

Larry Kerr Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States   Pieter Bruegel the Elder created this apocalyptic view of a world in 1562 unprepared to handle a pandemic. The painting has been in Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1827. What can we learn from a Zombie Apocalypse? The first thing to learn? It could happen. Anyone who […]

Ernest Black Struthers: missionary life, kala azar, and military strife

Peter Kopplin Toronto, Canada     Kala azar disease In 1934 the third edition of Cecil’s A Textbook of Medicine contained a chapter by an academically obscure missionary in China.[1]  Russell Cecil, still editing the book by himself with only the help of a neurology colleague, chose Ernest Black Struthers to write about kala azar […]

Hybridity in Hong Kong: the Tung Wah Hospital

Angharad Fletcher Hong Kong, China   In his 1895 government report on the recent outbreak of bubonic plague, Dr Philip Bernard Chenery Ayres, last Colonial Surgeon of Hong Kong, berated the Tung Wah Hospital for its dangerous and insanitary conditions. Ayres listed the many “medical and surgical atrocities” he had witnessed within the walls of […]

Plague Sydney 1900

Sydney   Introduction Bubonic plague has been the most feared disease throughout history. Most people are aware of its ravages but see it as a pestilence of the middle ages. Few are aware that it remains a disease of the twenty-first century, is endemic in many parts of the developed and underdeveloped world, and has […]

Doctors and illness in Boccaccio’s Decameron

Maria Sgouridou Greece   Introduction Giovanni Boccaccio was born in Tuscany in 1313, the illegitimate son of a merchant of Certaldo, who launched him on a commercial career hoping he would follow in his steps. Sent to Naples for that reason, he soon abandoned commerce and the study of canon law, and began instead to […]