Plague doctors have been a symbol of horror for hundreds of years, primarily thanks to their distinctive masks. In all art forms – from paintings to video games – these bird-like professionals have never really slipped out of public awareness.
It is probably safe to say that if Listverse had to choose an icon to represent it, the plague mask would be. We have mentioned it thousands of times (not literally – though it seems) on various lists and it is even the beloved avatar of at least one of our regular commentators (yes you Wyrmwood13!)
Despite their popularity – or maybe because of it – there is many misunderstandings about pest doctors. Below, for a change, we'll separate facts from fictions in a very non-US list.
8 Black Death
Although plague doctors were unequivocally and repeatedly associated with Black Death, a total of no doctors wore beak masks during this time. The “Black Death” is the name for the largest pandemic in history, in which up to 200 million people died between 1346 and 1353. Since then, scientists have been trying to identify the actual disease, and bubonic plague has long been considered the most likely culprit.
Plague doctors with their famous clothing only appeared in 1619. The costume was designed by Dr. Designed by Charles de Lorme. Even then, it only became widespread a few decades later during the 1656 plague. 
The most likely explanation for why these costumes have been associated with Black Death is the suspicion that bump plague was the cause. However, this theory has been challenged in recent years. For more devastating details about Black Death, check out 10 factors that made Black Death so deadly.
7 The Look
These costumes may not have existed at the same time as Black Death, but they did exist. So the obvious question is: why?
Basically, this was mankind's first attempt to wear the protective suit. The full coat was made of wax leather, which was designed impermeable. It covered a shirt, breeches, and boots.
The doctors' broad-brimmed hats were to signal their profession (if the rest of the costume was too subtle), and their sticks were used to examine the victims without touching them. Doctors also used these sticks to signal their assistants and ward off disturbed family members.
But the most notable aspect of the uniform was clearly its beak mask, which has a logical explanation. Remember that this was designed before doctors started washing their hands. So everyone was still trying to figure out how the disease actually spread. 
It was believed that "poisoned air" (also known as "miasma") was the cause, and so the masks were created. The mask filled with herbs and spices should overwhelm or drown out the miasma and thus protect the doctor.
Although we now know that an airborne disease cannot be stopped simply by putting more material in the air, we should at least acknowledge that it was not entirely wrong. Air can become infected and repaired by filtration. You just did it badly. And they haven't stopped here. Read more under 10 crazy cures for black death.
6 The smoldering look
While patients obviously had a hard time during the plague, their doctors didn't have it much better. In addition to the risk of developing the disease and the social stigma, they had an uncomfortable experience wearing only the uniform.
Anyone who has ever worn a Halloween mask knows how disgusting and annoying it can be after a few hours. The design of these plague masks made it almost impossible for doctors to speak to other people, which added to the already remarkable loneliness of the profession. 
However, for a small group of French doctors, saliva and chatter were probably not as worrying as the fires in their masks. Building on the theory of miasmas, some pest doctors in France set fire to the scented material in their masks in the hope that the smoke would help clear the bad air.
It is not surprising that fire technology never really prevailed. But if you think that's weird, you should read over 10 absolutely creepy historical masks.
5 Treated All
Given that the plague was so contagious that doctors needed special equipment and nobody really cared about it. With regard to poor people, it would be easy to assume that plague doctors only treated those who could afford it. But this was not the case. The poor may not be able to afford treatment, but the plague was so contagious that the rich could not afford to have their impoverished colleagues caught.
For this reason, plague doctors were hired and paid by the city councils to treat everyone in the hope of completely eradicating the disease village by village. However, this did not prevent doctors from burdening patients. 
Although the position was well paid, it was generally taken up by three types of people: new doctors, those who struggled private practice, or volunteers who were not trained but were willing to give it a try.
In many cases, cities offered additional benefits such as free home, payment of expenses, and a pension. As a result, pest physicians who treated patients for free technically have actually started lucrative careers.
Of course, modern doctors also earn a lot of money. Although they can be a stroke of luck if you are sick, you will be surprised to discover the top 10 disturbing facts about doctors.
4 Treatment Options
The plague doctor community consisted mainly of rejected doctors and non-doctors At a time when even the best doctors knew they were going to crouch. As a result, many of the treatments were. . . good, terrible.
The infected poor turned into laboratory rats as pest doctors became increasingly frustrated and creative with their treatments. In the end, however, none of these therapies helped.
Bloodshed (deliberate bleeding from a vein to reduce bad blood) has always been a popular choice. It has been thought that eating things like apple sauce, mustard, or mint sauce also helps. So the house could be filled with flavors. 
Alternatively, you can take some foods (such as onions, herbs, pigeons or snakes), chop them and rub them on the patient. Sometimes arsenic and mercury were fed to infected people. Mercury was also used to coat the patient before he was cooked in the oven, although this was usually a last resort (whether intended or not!).
In addition, there was always the possibility of suffocating patients in their own faeces or throwing them into the sewer overnight if they could not produce enough of their own waste. Click here to discover the 10 secrets of the old droppings.
3 Data Acquisition
Everyone knows that data speak in modern times. Regardless of whether you are trying to influence the outcome of a political campaign or stop the spread of coronavirus, data is essential if you want to win. Apparently, the governments of the 17th century also recognized the importance of data, since their collection was an essential part of the work as a plague doctor. 
You can imagine what kind of data they have collected: suspected cases, confirmed cases, deaths, healed patients and more. This allowed pest doctors to rule out ineffective treatments, although they never really focused on effective therapies.
It was unusual at the time, but they also performed autopsies to learn more about the effects of this condition on the human body. Since they were often with patients in their last moments, the plague doctors also had to record wills and testify in court if necessary. Of course, pest doctors were amateurs compared to data collectors in the world today. For the frightening facts, read 10 ways we are watched, monitored, and spied on.
In societies around the world, doctors were almost always highly valued. Among the most educated members of society, they can alleviate your suffering and save the lives of your loved ones. All of this usually makes them popular. However, it was a different story for plague doctors.
They spent so much time with the infected – which often led to the doctors becoming ill – that other people were careful not to contact them. When hired, these doctors were not allowed to mingle with the general public. In addition, they had to quarantine themselves for an extended period of time when they finished treating patients. 
Even afterwards they were generally treated as outcasts. The plague doctors were left alone to wander the streets of the villages that had saved them or to move away in hopes of starting a new life. More fascinating facts about pariahs in the Middle Ages can be found in the top 10 medieval outcasts.
1 Missing Doctors
Plague doctors were usually well trained, well paid, popular, well known and well networked. Even if they were terrible doctors, they probably came from reasonably wealthy families. They treated the political class and the elites and took part in legal proceedings. Obviously, pest doctors were important people, which is why it is so unusual for some of them to be missing. 
Although historical records from hundreds of years ago will always have gaps, they usually refer to the poor. Wealthier members of society had all types of records in banks, land registries, courts, etc.
Pest physicians were well documented and carefully monitored to ensure that they did not break their isolation clause. Even so, they occasionally just disappeared.
Some were kidnapped for ransom, although these people were often brought back quickly. Others simply disappeared from the face of the earth. They may have fled, died of the plague, or been kidnapped to treat people in another city. It's probably a combination of all three.
But we will never be sure what happened to them. For more tingling secrets of missing people, click here for 10 scary last words from people who then disappeared without a trace. And if you have a theory about where the missing plague doctors went, share them in the comments.
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