Bubonic Plague was known as the Black Death and had been known in England for centuries. It was a ghastly disease. The victim's skin turned black in patches and inflamed glands or 'buboes' in the groin combined with compulsive vomiting, swollen tongue and splitting headaches made it a horrible, agonizing killer. Samuel Pepys (peeps) in his Diary gives a vivid account of the empty streets in London, as all who could had left in an attempt to flee the pestilence.
The Plague Window, Eyam Church In 1665 a box of laundry was brought to Eyam by a traveler. The laundry was found to be infested with fleas, and the epidemic started! 80% of the people died here and there could have been a terrible outbreak in Derbyshire had the village not had a courageous rector called William Mompesson. He persuaded the villagers not to flee the village and spread the infection, but to stay until the plague had run its course. His wife was one of the many victims and her tomb can be seen in Eyam churchyard.
It was believed that holding a posy of flowers to the nose kept away the plague. A song about the plague is still sung by children today. "Ring a Ring O' Roses" is said to be an account of the horrors of the Great Plague. One of the first signs of the plague was a ring of rose-colored spots, and the protection against this terrible disease was, in popular belief, a posy of herbs. Sneezing was taken as a sure sign that you were about to die of it, and the last line "We all fall down" omits the word, "dead"! Ring a Ring O' Roses, A pocketful of posies, Atishoo! Atishoo! We all fall down!
The History of Thieves Europeans began producing essential oils in the 12th century. During the Plague of the 15th century, certain thieves robbed the dead without becoming infected. Finally, four thieves were captured in Marseilles, France, and charged with robbing the dead and dying victims of the plague. At the trial, the magistrate offered them leniency if they would reveal how they managed to avoid contracting the dreaded infection, in spite of their close contact with infected corpses. It was disclosed that these thieves were perfumers and spice traders who had rubbed themselves with a concoction of aromatic herbs (cinnamon, clove, and oregano). The formula for the Young Living Essential Oil blend, Thieves, is derived from the aromatic herbs used by the thieves of 15th century France.
The Plague Doctor People in the seventeenth century did not know what caused the plague and many believed it was a punishment from God. They did realize that coming into contact with those infected increased the risk of contracting the disease yourself. Cures and preventive measures were not at all effective.
Suggested Preventions and Cures How they were supposed to work What they actually did Carry Flowers or wear a strong perfume The smells would help to ward away the disease Nothing Drink hot drinks The victim would then sweat out the disease Nothing Carry a lucky charm The charm would ward off the disease Nothing Use leeches to bleed the victim This would remove infected blood Nothing Smoke a pipe of tobacco The smoke would ward off the disease Nothing Give a strong dose of laxatives This would cause the victim to completely empty his bowels, thus removing the disease. Strong doses of laxatives can cause death from dehydration. Coat the victims with mercury and place them in the oven. The combination of mercury and heat from the oven would kill off the disease. This could actually increase the likelihood of death - mercury is poisonous and the heat from the oven caused serious burns.