Centuries later, it’s hard to confirm that Ferrara’s specific combination of public health measures were indeed the secret to its success. Plague Spreads Swiftly. Christophel Fine Art/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ferrara is distinguished for having some of the first paved roads in 1375 and a municipal sewer system since 1425. Plague struck the besiegers in 1346 and then entered the town, to be carried abroad when the traders hurriedly left on ships the next spring. [citation needed], Population before the plague and death toll, selected cities:[1], A 2019 study found that the plague of 1629–1631 led to lower growth in several cities affected by the plague and "caused long‐lasting damage to the size of Italian urban populations and to urbanization rates. Justinian I is often credited as the most influential Byzantine emperor, but his reign also coincided with one of the first well-documented outbreaks of plague. Plague has caused some of the most-devastating epidemics in history. A team of researchers at the University of Ferrara dug through municipal archives and historical manuscripts to uncover a Renaissance-era approach to “integrated disease management.” They credit Ferrara’s remarkable success to a combination of strict border surveillance, aggressive public sanitation and rigorous personal hygiene regimens that tapped the natural antimicrobial properties of herbs, oils and even scorpion and snake venom. Although a work of fiction, Manzoni's description of the conditions and events in plague-ravaged Milan are completely historical and extensively documented from primary sources researched by the author. Sicily and the Italian Peninsula was the first area in then Catholic Western Europe to be reached by the bubonic plague pandemic known as the Black Death, which reached the region by an Italian ship from the Crimea which landed in Messina in Sicily in October 1347. The information was used to set threat levels and coordinate public health responses. Outbreaks of cholera from passenger ships arriving from Europe prompted a reinterpretation of the law in 1892 to provide the federal government more authority in imposing quarantine requirements. It reached the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 541 A.D., and was soon claiming up to 10,000 lives per day—so many that unburied bodies were eventually … This epidemic, often referred to as the Great Plague of Milan, claimed possibly one million lives, or about 25% of the population. Anyone arriving at the city gates needed to carry identification papers called Fedi (“proofs”) to ensure they had arrived from a plague-free zone. While Henderson says that the same general set of anti-plague measures were taken in cities across Italy, the town of Ferrara, population approximately 30,000, offers a fascinating success story. 1629-1631. This type of plague affects the lymph system, and its name came from the large "buboes," or swollen lumps, that would appear on the neck, groin, and armpits of the victim. "[4], The 1630 Milan plague is the backdrop for several chapters of Alessandro Manzoni's 1840 novel The Betrothed (Italian: I promessi sposi). Lime powder was spread liberally on any surface that may have come in contact with an infected person. Then they would be screened for any signs of disease. This particular page focuses on the effects of the Black Death. Bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system, usually resulting from the bite of an infected flea, Xenopsylla cheopis (the Oriental rat flea). For personal hygiene, the citizens of Ferrara turned to several popular natural remedies prescribed for protection against the plague. In fact, the northern Italian town of Ferrara managed to prevent even a single death from the plague after the year 1576—even as neighboring communities were devastated. READ MORE: Pandemics that Changed History. So Venice, a major trade port, grew nervous. But they prized one above the rest: a medicinal oil called Composito. According to Wendy Orent, author of Plague, the disease spread in two … According to a 2010 study published in Nature, DNA showe… The Great Plague of Vienna struck the Holy Roman Empire in 1679.. Italian Peninsula See also Black Death in Italy. This episode is considered one of the later outbreaks of the centuries-long pandemic of bubonic plague that began with the Black Death. Clothing and other textiles were hung out in the sun, beaten and doused with perfumes. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. [2], German and French troops carried the plague to the city of Mantua in 1629 as a result of troop movements associated with the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Most Italian cities also applied the same rules and regimens in fighting the plague. The plague was carried and spread by the fleas that lived on the Black Rat and brought to Italy on the Genoese ships. The plague may have contributed to the decline of Italy's economy relative to that of other Western European countries. This outbreak of plague also spread north into Tyrol, an alpine region of western Austria and northern Italy. The Black Death originated in the northwest shores of the Caspian Sea, in the land of the Mongol Golden Horde, and spread into Europe when the Mongols attacked an Italian trading post at Kaffa in the Crimea. The Galen plague of 165 to 180 AD, also referred to as the Antonine plague, was a pandemic brought to the Roman Empire by soldiers who were coming from the Near East. In 1546, the Italian physician Girolamo Fracastoro published an influential text on contagion in which he took this theory a step further. Starting in the 15th century, Henderson says, large Italian cities like Venice and Florence stayed in constant communication with smaller towns like Ferrara to track the spread of new plague outbreaks. E-mail Citation » Ten articles on plague patterns, ecology, labor markets, plague saints, Scandinavian art; concentrates on plague in northern Europe from the Black Death to the plague of 1711 in Copenhagen. The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (after Galen, the physician who described it), was an ancient pandemic brought to the Roman Empire by troops who were returning from campaigns in the Near East.Scholars have suspected it to have been either smallpox or measles. Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague. Today, many of us think of the plague as something confined to the history books. 1 million. The following year, Congress passed legislation that further clarified the federal role in quarantine activities. Notably, during the first wave of the Black Death, societies did begin implementing measures such as quarantining patients and isolating people. 12 million. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Italy - Italy - Famine, war, and plague (1340–80): Italy’s thriving economy soon confronted severe challenges. READ MORE: See all pandemic coverage here. Starting with the catastrophic arrival of the Black Death in 1347, Italian cities gradually began to take proactive public health measures to isolate the sick, quarantine possible carriers and restrict travel from affected regions, says John Henderson, a professor of Italian Renaissance history at Birbeck, University of London, and author of Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City. [citation needed], In October 1629, the plague reached Milan, Lombardy's major commercial center. Some historians believe that the drastic loss of life, and its impact on commerce, ultimately resulted in the downfall of Venice as a major commercial and political power. Patients develop swollen, tender lymph glands (called buboes) and fever, headache, chills, and weakness. “Painting in Florence and Siena After the Black Death: The Arts, Religion and Society in the Mid-Fourteenth Century” takes on Italian art in the aftermath of the bubonic plague. How did they do it? Overall, Milan suffered approximately 60,000 fatalities out of a total population of 130,000. How did they do it? The Black Death (1347-1350) was a pandemic that devastated the populations of Europe and Asia. © 2021 A&E Television Networks, LLC. A principal source on the origin of the Black Death is a memoir by the Italian Gabriele de’ Mussi. The papal city of Bologna lost an estimated 15,000 citizens to the plague, with neighboring smaller cities of Modena and Parma also being heavily affected. “[Afterwards], wash hands and face with acqua chiara (clean water) mixed with wine or vinegar of roses, with which sometimes all the body should be cleaned, using a sponge.”. Those seeds of disease had a sticky quality that could also adhere to clothes and objects.”. Track how it ravaged humanity through history. The Black Death is known as one of the deadliest and widespread pandemics in history. All Rights Reserved. Having conquered large parts of North Africa, and the Italian peninsula, the Byzantine Empire under Justinian I was at its peak when the plague broke out. Although the city initiated effective public health measures, including quarantine and limiting the access of German soldiers and trade goods, the plague smoldered. The last major plague outbreak, though, occurred in London between 1665 and 1666. Streets were swept of garbage and cleared of “filthy” animals like dogs, cats and chickens (no mention of rats). The Black Death arrived in Italy by sea, first making landfall in Sicily in early October, 1347. Live Science writes that some historians credit advancements in medicine for stemming the spread of the plague. [citation needed], East of Lombardy, the Republic of Venice was infected in 1630–31. The Italian Plague of 1629–1631 was a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague that ravaged northern and central Italy. READ MORE: Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly, Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images. Saint Vincent de Paul caring for plague victims in 1630. It was a big deal. Xenopsylla cheopis was the most effective flea species for transmittal. This epidemic, often referred to as the Great Plague of Milan, claimed possibly one million lives, or about 25% of the population. The plague was an unprecedented human tragedy in Italy. 1885. Among these, first, were famines, which affected most of Italy in the years 1339–40, 1346–47, 1352–53, and 1374–75, and a general expansion and intensification of war compounded these catastrophes. The Black Death was present in the Italian states of present-day Italy between 1347 and 1348. Castagno never disclosed the ingredients used in making Composito, but by examining records of materials that Castagno ordered, researchers determined that the balm contained myrrh and Crocus sativus, both known for their antibacterial properties, as well as venom from both scorpions and vipers. Early researchers still do not know for certain where and when the Black Plague first arrived in the historical or genetic record. Since the city was paying their salary they treated everyone, the rich and the poor. In Ferrara, the highest threat level meant closing all but two of the city gates and posting permanent surveillance teams composed of wealthy noblemen, city officials, physicians and apothecaries. Referred to as the Antonine Plague(after emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus), this epidemic did what hordes of roving armies could not. Pisa, Pistoia, and Florence in Tuscany were especially badly affected; there pesta secunda, 'second pestilence' killed a fifth of the population. Within the city, the same level of vigilance was employed to identify suspected cases of infection and move individuals into one of two lazaretti or plague hospitals located outside of Ferrara’s city walls. Third Plague. [3] Venetian troops, infected with the disease, retreated into northern and central Italy, spreading the infection. The town of Ferrara managed to avoid even a single death from the widespread contagion. Plague, infectious disease caused by Yersinia pestis, a bacterium transmitted from rodents to humans by the bite of infected fleas. In fact, the recipe for Composito was not dissimilar to anti-plague regimens used in other parts of Italy, particularly “Oil of Scorpions” and an ancient ointment called Theriac, also made from viper venom. Over the next three centuries, plague outbreaks were a regular occurrence in Italy’s densely populated cities, prompting increasingly coordinated and sophisticated responses. Similar plague hospitals in Florence treated over 10,000 patients during the Plague of 1630-31, all paid for by the state. “The choice to use venom is that only a true poison could combat the poison of plague,” says Henderson. Valuable objects and money were heated close to a fire and perfumes were sprayed throughout the house for 15 days. Moreover, when the plague had finally run its course, the Venetian Republic was so decimated that its trade and military forces never recovered from the … Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2009. The population of Italy was ill prepared for the spread of the disease. Critical in the city's success, records suggest, were border controls, sanitary laws and personal hygiene. 1 million. The secret recipe for Composito was concocted by the Spanish physician Pedro Castagno, who wrote Ferrara’s influential “Reggimento contra la peste” (“Regimen against the plague”), in which he described how the oily balm should be applied to the body. This webpage is for Dr. Wheeler's literature students, and it offers introductory survey information concerning the literature of classical China, classical Rome, classical Greece, the Bible as Literature, medieval literature, Renaissance literature, and genre studies. It was the disease behind the Black Death of the 14th century, … To Black Death spread to Italy from modern-day Russia. The plague had three distinctly different forms: Bubonic Plague Bubonic plague was the most common form of the disease. A plague doctor (Italian: physici epidemeie, Dutch:pestmeester, German: Pestarzt), was a special medical physician of the Middle Ages who saw those who had the bubonic plague.They were specifically hired by towns that had many plague victims in times of plague epidemics. The word is derived from the Italian quaranta giorni, in reference to the practice during the 14th century of requiring plague-infected ships from Venice to sit at anchor for 40 days before landing. The plague ravaged large cities and provincial towns in northern and central Italy from 1629 to 1631, killing more than 45,000 people in Venice alone and wiping out more than half the population of cities like Parma and Verona. There had been a series of famine and food shortages in the region, and the population … [1] This episode is considered one of the later outbreaks of the centuries-long pandemic of bubonic plague that began with the Black Death. Numerous scholars believed that it was either measles or smallpox; however, the cause of … Any damaged or cracked furniture was taken out and burned. Bisgaard, Lars, and Leif Søndergaard, eds. A major outbreak in March 1630 resulted from relaxed health measures during the carnival season. Italian Plague. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. When we talk about ''the'' plague, we're usually talking about the one that killed off millions of Europeans in the medieval era. As historian William Rosen wrote in his book ‘Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe’, the plague “would mark the end of one world, and the beginning of another. The disease itself is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestisand it had already long existed on the fleas of wild rodents. The Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea (500-565 CE) identified the beginning of the plague in Pelusium on the Nile River’s northern and eastern shores. The city of Venice was severely hit, with recorded casualties of 46,000 out of a population of 140,000. Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. Ferrara is a picturesque walled city situated along a branch of the Po River halfway between Padua and Bologna, both badly affected by plague in 1630. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. If the plague had not been able to travel from port to port with the rats and fleas on merchant ships, it probably would have not spread so widely or been so devastating.The fact that Italian city states were so successful as sea traders clearly connects them with the exposure and spread of the Black Death. The difference, says Henderson, may have to do with Ferrara’s level of enforcement. Living with the Black Death. Around 165 CE, a mysterious disease broke out across the Roman Empire. So when early civilizations encroached on the habitats of these flea-ridden rodents, the bacterium naturally jumped to humans. It peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350 and is thought to have been a … The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence and the Plague, was the deadliest pandemics ever recorded. But strikingly, some communities were spared. “That’s how he envisioned disease being spread from person to person. Originating in China and northeast India, the plague (Yersinia pestis) was carried to the Great Lakes region of Africa via overland and sea trade routes. If a ship was suspected of … [citation needed], An expunged section of the book, describing the historical trial and execution of three alleged "plague-spreaders", was later published in a pamphlet entitled Storia della colonna infame (History of the pillar of infamy). By law, a ready supply of Composito was to be stored in a locked box set into the wall of the municipal palace and only distributed in times of plague. This memoir has been published several times in its original Latin (2,3) and has recently been translated into English (although brief passages have been previously published in translation, see reference ). The Black Death marked an end of an era in Italy, its impact was profound and it resulted in wide-ranging social, economic,… What enduring legacy did the bubonic plague leave on life in Italy and beyond? https://www.history.com/news/plague-italy-public-health-ferrara These findings support the hypothesis that seventeenth‐century plagues played a fundamental role in triggering the process of relative decline of the Italian economies. By 1357, the plague had returned to Venice, and in 1361–1363 the rest of Italy experienced the first recurrence of the pandemic. The public sanitation campaigns in cities like Ferrara emerged from a long tradition of medieval and sanitary legislation, further reinforced by Fracastoro’s theories of contagion. Several flea species carried the bubonic plague, such as Pulex irritans (the human flea), Xenopsylla cheopis, and Ceratophyllus fasciatus. Bubonic plague does not spread from person to person. For Italians in the 14th-century, plague at first seemed extraordinary, then it became ordinary, even endemic. 1889-1890. As local authorities came to realize the benefits of federal involvement, local quarantine stations were gradually turn… The point of origin for Justinian’s plague was Egypt. Henderson says that physicians had long believed that plague was caused by “corrupt air,” which could be released from under the ground during earthquakes. [citation needed], "Plague in seventeenth-century Europe and the decline of Italy: an epidemiological hypothesis", "Plague and long-term development: the lasting effects of the 1629–30 epidemic on the Italian cities", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=1629–1631_Italian_plague&oldid=1000896017, 17th-century deaths from plague (disease), Articles with unsourced statements from December 2020, Articles containing Italian-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 17 January 2021, at 07:21. It not only shook Italian society, but transformed it. By January 1348 it had landed in Venice and Genoa. Yellow Fever. In 1347, only a few parts of Greece and Italy had experienced the horrors of … “Before getting up in the morning, after lighting a fire of scented woods (juniper, laurel and vine shoots), warm the clothes and above all the shirt, rub first the heart region, near the fire to ease balm absorption, then the throat,” wrote Castagno. Corruption was also caused by “putrefaction,” rotting matter and other filthy refuse in cities and the countryside. This was followed by a second wave in the spring and summer of 1631. Inside homes, residents tried a host of measures to disinfect objects and surfaces. [citation needed], Later outbreaks of bubonic plague in Italy occurred in the city of Florence in 1630–1633 and the areas surrounding Naples, Rome and Genoa in 1656–57. “He developed an idea called ‘seeds of disease,’” says Henderson. This occurs when an infected flea bites a person or when materials contaminated with Y. pestis enter through a break in a person’s skin. Genoese merchants spread the plague while fleeing a Mongol attack on their trading post in Crimea. The so-called Black Death killed 20 million Europeans in the 14th century. The pandemic is believed to have originated in Africa and then spread to Europe through infected rats on merchant ships. It nearl… However, it was not the only epidemic to reshape European history. The plague may have contributed to the decline of Italy's economy relative to that of other Western European countries. Russian flu. Regional – the Venetian plague occurred at a time when many other Northern Italian city-states were also being re-affected by the plague. The Black Death is also commonly known as the plague. The Italian Plague of 1629–1631 was a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague that ravaged northern and central Italy. Says Henderson particular page focuses on the genoese ships s how he envisioned disease being spread from person person... 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