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    "Filth is the mother of corruption”: plague, the poor and the environment in early modern Florence

    Henderson, John (2018) "Filth is the mother of corruption”: plague, the poor and the environment in early modern Florence. In: Engelmann, L. and Henderson, John and Lynteris, C. (eds.) Plague and the City. Body and the City. London, UK: Routledge, pp. 69-90. ISBN 9781138326125.

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    This article examines the relationship between the impact of plague and the physical fabric of the city during the last major epidemic to affect Tuscany, 1630-1. Contemporaries were only too aware of the close connection between disease and the conditions in which people lived. This was reflected in the long tradition of sanitary legislation, which sought to address what they thought caused disease, namely corrupt air, which was seen as being generated by industrial and domestic waste and exacerbated by people living in cramped, crowded conditions. The threat of plague led early modern city states to implement both precautionary measures to address the factors which led to the generation of disease, and to preventive measures when an epidemic had broken. Health Boards were instituted to direct a complex system to mitigate the spread of disease, through cleansing streets and houses, inspection and registration of the sick and their incarceration in isolation hospitals, and quarantining their contacts and families in their homes or in villas and monasteries outside the city. Based on an examination of medical theory and its influence on government policies, this article will examine the way in which a detailed house-by-house sanitary survey conducted at the beginning of the epidemic reflects not just contemporary concerns about the causal links between poverty, housing, environment and disease, but also a determination to help the poor though addressing insanitary conditions and providing them with relief.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Plague, Florence, poverty, medicine, sanitation
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: John Henderson
    Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2020 09:31
    Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 23:29


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