17th-Century Plague Doctors

“During the 17th century, plague doctors started wearing uniforms in an effort to protect themselves from their patients. Charles de l’Orme came up with concept of the long, dark robe worn with boots, gloves, and a hat in 1619.

“The idea was to keep the physician’s entire body covered. The outer layer of the costume was made of goat leather and often coated in wax. Underneath, the doctor wore a blouse that tied to his boots.

“The infamous plague masks were actually associated with air purity. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the idea that the air could be polluted became widespread and doctors sought to prevent ‘bad air,’ or the miasma, from getting to them.

“Eye holes were fitted with glass pieces so doctors could still see, and the long noses on the mask were filled with drugs and aromatic herbs, including mint, camphor, cloves, straw, laudanum, rose petals, and myrrh to filter the air. The herbs also helped with the smell, considering that the dead bodies and lanced buboes that doctors dealt with were rather pungent.”

Learn more about plague doctors at Horrifying Things Most People Don’t Know About Plague Doctors.

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The Devil's Muse

A horror fan blog by Sean Zio.