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The Great Pox; The French Disease in Renaissance Europe: Jon Arrizabalaga, John Henderson, Roger ...

The Great Pox; The French Disease in Renaissance Europe

Jon Arrizabalaga, John Henderson, Roger French.

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ISBN 10: 0300069340 / ISBN 13: 9780300069341
Published by Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1996
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 1996. Hardcover. First Printing. Book is tight, square, and unmarked but for former owner blindstamp and signature on the FFFP. Blue-green boards and spine with bright silver lettering on the spine. 352 pp. After the Great Death swept across Europe, The Great Pox known as the French Disease, brought a different type of horror; it did not kill rapidly, it stayed in the body for years causing acute pain, disfigurement, and ultimately an agonizing death. The disease confused the medical theory of the time, struck across all society, and all through Italy, France, and Germany. A clean pristine copy. Bookseller Inventory # 003083

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Great Pox; The French Disease in ...

Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven, CT

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

About this title


A century and a half after the Black Death killed over a third of the population of Western Europe, a new plague swept across the continent. The Great Pox - commonly known as the French disease - brought a different kind of horror: instead of killing its victims rapidly, it endured in their bodies for years, causing acute pain, disfigurement and ultimately an agonising death. In this study three experts explore the impact of the new plague and society's reaction to its challenge. Using a range of contemporary sources, from the archives of charitable and sanitary institutions that coped with the sick to the medical tracts of those that sought to cure it, they provide a detailed account of the experience of the disease across Renaissance Italy, as well as in France and Germany. The authors analyze the symptoms of the Great Pox and the identity of patients, documented in the records of the massive hospital for "incurables" established in early 16th-century Rome. They show how it challenged accepted medical theory and practice and provoked public disputations among university teachers. And at the most practical level they reveal the plight of its victims at all levels of society, from ecclesiastical lords to the diseased poor who begged in the streets. Examining a range of contexts from princely courts and republics to university faculties, confraternities and hosp-itals, the authors argue for an historical understanding of the Great Pox based on contemporary perceptions rather than a retrospective diagnosis of what later generations came to know as "syphilis".

From Kirkus Reviews:

A scholarly investigation of the response in Italy, France, and Germany to the sudden appearence of a seemingly new disease, ``the pox'' (syphilis), in the 1490s. The disease appeared first in Italy, in the wake of an invasion by French troops in 1494 and was quickly labeled ``the French disease.'' Its alarming symptoms included joint pain (so intense, one contemporary chronicler observed, that those infected ``screamed day and night without respite, envying the dead themselves''). Swellings appeared over the body, burst, and left blue or black scabs. Eventually, the disease corroded the features of the face, gnawing down ``as far as the marrow.'' Those infected also, witnesses insisted, eventually developed a revolting odor. To a continent only recently recovered from the Black Death (which had killed a third of Europe's population 130 years earlier), this new disease seemed like an equally lethal calamity. And even though doctors quickly identified sexual intercourse as the method of transmission, the ultimate cause of the disease, as well as effective treatments for it, remained elusive. Some of the devout, considering how the disease was transmitted, felt that ``the pox'' was God's punishment on sinners and required no intervention. Arrizabalaga (History of Science/Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cient¡ficas, Barcelona), Henderson (Senior Research Fellow/Wellcome Institute, London), and French (History of Medicine/Cambridge Univ.) offer a great deal of period detail, but their goal here is not a social history of the new disease. They are most concerned with the differing responses of doctors, municipalities, the Church, and royal courts to the disease. For those interested in such matters, there is much that is fresh and intriguing here. But lay readers, looking for a greater focus on the impact of the disease on society would do better to consult Claude Qu‚tel's vivid History of Syphilis. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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