Nib doctor, man closest to death in the Middle Ages

Wearing a black hat, wearing a black waxed robe, wearing gloves and holding a wooden stick, the most prominent is the beak mask on the face, and the mystery in the long beak. This is the medieval “Plague “Doctor”, also known as “Bird Doctor”. They walked in Europe where the Black Death was rampant. Because of this special clothing, they protected themselves to a certain extent and prevented others from being infected. People suffering from the epidemic were both afraid of Dr. Beak and looking forward to their arrival.

The invention of French doctors

In the medieval Europe, there was a large-scale “black death”, which is often called the plague. It is a severe infectious disease with a very high mortality rate. The main source of transmission is rats. The plague swept the entire European continent. , Wherever they go, the death toll cannot be estimated. Renaissance writer Boccaccio wrote: “Nosebleed is a precursor to death. Men and women first produce unknown masses inside the thighs and under the armpits, some as large as apples and eggs … the masses spread from these two places to The whole body. Then black spots appear, especially on the arms and thighs, densely packed; almost all those who have symptoms will die within three days, and those who are alive will gather in a safe house, lock themselves up, and live carefully. “In some places “Most corpses are thrown into carts like garbage.” During this period, a large number of corpses needed to be processed, and many of these tasks were performed by doctors. At that time, people did not know that the plague was caused by a bacterial infection. In order to isolate the rancidity of the corpses, doctors used sackcloth or cotton cloth to cover their noses and noses, a bit like today’s masks, but the effect was obviously very limited. As a result, a large number of doctors were infected and died.

In 1619, a French doctor named Charles Drome invented an anti-infective doctor’s suit, covering the doctor from head to toe. This is probably the earliest protective clothing in human history. This suit includes a wide-brimmed hat that can hide hair, a beak-shaped mask, and a long robe that can cover the whole body. It is made of wax and sheep fat tarpaulin to prevent The doctor was infected by the patient’s blood and body fluids. Some are made of leather and waxed on top. Wax was considered a reliable surface sealing material at the time to protect the body. Inside the robe were leather pants, also waxed. Gloves and shoes are also made of leather, straps are strapped around the wrists and ankles.

Among them, the long “bird’s beak” design can be described as rich in content. First of all, it can keep a certain distance between the doctor and the patient. Secondly, it is filled with many spices and herbs, usually a mixture of spices such as mint leaves, cloves, camphor, rose petals and ambergris. Of course, different doctors will have their own “secret recipe”. At that time, it was generally believed that people who died of infectious diseases were “unclean”, and the odor they emitted could spread the disease. A small hole is opened under the bird’s beak to help breathing, and the filling inside can make the doctor’s breath to pass through the filtering of aromatic substances, and can also control the invasion of germs, which plays a certain protective role. Some even say that this is the earliest gas mask. The position of the eyes on the mask is made of transparent glass to prevent the patient’s saliva from splashing. The beak part of the mask is silver, because silver can prevent poison. The wooden stick in the doctor’s hand is used to lift the patient’s clothing or sheets to avoid direct contact with the patient. It can be said that at that time, the beak suit still had some scientific reason and practical use.

As for why the mask was designed as a bird’s beak image, some analysts said that in people’s concepts at the time, the evil spirits carrying the plague were often hidden on the birds, and these birds would be scared away by the more vicious beak mask.

Plague Doctor Sign

The protective equipment of this beak spread from Paris, which first appeared throughout Europe, and over time, it became the epidemic of the plague doctor. The plague doctors wore beak suits in the streets of Europe. They came and went in a hurry and rarely talked to people. On the one hand, they maintained a mysterious image and more to prevent infection. And when people see people wearing this kind of clothes, they will hide too far, because whoever the beak doctor comes to means that someone in this family is going to die, and people see them as if they were seeing death.

In fact, it’s not the beak doctor that people fear, but the plague. This infectious disease was almost incurable in Europe at that time, and once it was reached, it would almost certainly die. And the sick will be isolated and die alone. At this time, the beak doctor became the only hope for the plague patient to survive, and also became the last person many patients saw before they died.

Due to the large number of patients and the fact that many doctors were infected and died, the gap in the doctor profession is very large, so many towns and towns are recruiting heavily for plague doctors, and these employed plague doctors are not all medically educated. They usually do not have sophisticated medical skills. Most of them are people who have little knowledge of medicine, even a lot of casual amateurs. In the records, even some plague doctors were small vendors selling things before entering the post.

At the time, plague doctors did not need special skills to treat the plague. The most commonly used method was bloodletting. They believed that only by releasing the diseased blood can people recover health. So they first burst the blood bubbles on the patient, put some herbs on the wound, and then placed animals such as ants, frogs on the wound to rebalance the body fluids. The plague doctor will also slap the patient with a wooden staff in his hand. In ancient Europe, superstitions were considered to be God’s punishment. Plague doctors struck the patients with wooden sticks. They were also considered to drive the patients out of sin and drive out demons.

It now appears that for plague patients, the plague doctors can do very limited treatment, most of the time they only play the role of nurses, take care of patients, and record death figures for the government. After that, the work of the plague doctors gradually evolved to witness death and help dissection. They were also one of the very few groups in Europe that could dissect corpses at the time. They were also the targets of many patients’ remorse and telling last words before death. Over time, people left every death There must be an impression of the presence of the Plague Doctor.

Become a pop culture

Although the beak shape of the plague doctor is not easy to get close to, and the rescue level may not be high, they are the front-line personnel fighting the death, and they are the group closest to death.

Until the 18th century, the plague gradually withdrew from the stage of history, and the work of the plague doctors had been undertaken by more professional doctors, nurses, coroners, volunteers, and even theological workers. However, the image of the bird’s beak doctor did not disappear, but became People remember the symbols of the past and become a cultural symbol, appearing in various books, film and television works and games. Nowadays, in the western carnival, Halloween and other festivals, people are often seen as dressed as beak doctors.