Cures

Measures against the plague were often extreme.

Supposed cures for the plague included the letters 'abracadabra' in a triangle, a lucky hare's foot, smoking tobacco, dried toad, leeches, and pressing a chicken against the sores until it died.

Public

The city authorities reacted firmly and responsibly. The Mayor ordered:

  • Public prayers, and days of confession.
  • Closure of public places like theatres and dancing-houses.
  • Fires in the streets to purify the air.
  • The killing of cats and dogs, which were thought to carry the plague. It was estimated that 40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed.
  • Doctors were appointed to look after the poor.
  • Houses where someone got the plague were shut up, and marked with a red cross. 'God have mercy upon us' was written on the door.
  • Burial of the dead in mass graves.
  • Those employed in the collection of bodies frequently smoked tobacco to avoid catching the plague.

Personal

  • Many people just stayed indoors. Others fled to the countryside.
  • Doctors advised people to fumigate their houses, and keep the windows closed.
  • People refused to touch other people. Money was dropped into jars of vinegar.
  • People carried bottles of perfume and wore lucky charms.
  • 'Cures' for the plague included the letters 'abracadabra' written in a triangle, a lucky hare's foot, dried toad, leeches, and pressing a plucked chicken against the plague-sores until it died.