Back in the Middle Ages,
there was no cure for the plague.
But that didn’t stop people trying
pretty much anything to avoid succumbing to this terrifying illness.
The Wellcome Collection in London holds records
of many of the supposed and rather bizarre cures for the plague.
So one of the things I have here
is a manuscript from the end of the 15th century.
Dr. Elma Brenner is an expert
in the strange world of the medieval doctor.
The plague charm that we have here on this page,
they’re using the kind of the format of the circular diagram,
which is a kind of universal medieval format
to give protection against pestilence.
These charms quite often have some kind
of instruction to write them on the body,
sometimes in blood.
But you could do other things with this.
You could write — you could copy it onto a scrap of paper
例如 你可以写出来 就是在废纸上临摹一份
and carry it on your body, for instance.
Of course, doctors did exist in medieval times.
Unfortunately, they were as clueless as their patients
as to the real cause of the plague.
But that didn’t stop them profiting from it.
Physicians quite often get bad reputations for being very wealthy
and shamelessly charging a lot of money for their advice.
Now, another thing I want to ask you
about — because, see, the image I have in my
mind is of a plague doctor with a special costume.
So I’ve actually acquired for myself the sort of thing that people would wear.
Yeah, and although it’s something that looks strange to us,
对 虽然对我们来说 那好像很奇怪
it actually had come from continental Europe,
particularly France and Italy.
The Europeans settled on this look in the 17th century,
proving they could even deal with the plague
more stylishly than we could.
So this is the outfit.
I’ve got on all but the top bit.
So the gloves are more like motorcycle gauntlets,
which obviously would protect against the germs getting in.
And I’ve got a big stick.
Now, what’s this?
This is just a standard stick?
Or did it have some function,
还是 在你看来 对瘟疫医生来说
do you think, as plague doctor?
Yeah, I mean, I think it adds to the distance from the patients
He wouldn’t get up close to them
So he could say, look, you’ve got buboes there.
所以他可能会这样说 看 你那里有淋巴结炎
This is virtually the barge pole
that you don’t want to touch things with.
Now, I suppose this is the most fascinating thing.
The beak was there so that there would be something
in front of the respiratory area
that was filled with heavily aromatic plants
that were understood to purify the air.
Is this what the plague doctor might look like?
Yeah, I mean, what we could say is
that this would be a physician that you would encounter,
and you would not be able to see his face at all.
So in that sense, it’s more of a negative
所以 在这种情况下 我会倾向于认为
than a positive encounter, I think it’s likely to say.
Right, well I have to move on.
I’ve got a lot of other patients to see.
You’ve got the plague.
You’ve got about two weeks to live.
I wonder if you can pay the money for my fee on your way out.
Back in the Middle Ages,