In 1815-16, the small town of Noja (now called Noicattaro), on the Adriatic coast of Southern Italy, was affected by a plague epidemic, the last manifestation of this disease in Italy and one of the last in Continental Europe. Besides having serious demographic consequences at local level, the plague also had a considerable influence on medical and scientific debate concerning the nature of the disease and its feasible cures. In the first part, this study reviews some of the most significant doctrinal positions on the subject emerging within the southern medical profession. In the second part, it concentrates on the therapeutic strategies actually experimented in Noja, highlighting the rejection of traditional pharmacopoeia and mainstream treatments such as emetics, purgatives and bloodletting. Yet, the medicines validated and tested as an alternative to these therapeutic modalities were at best palliatives, if not at times highly toxic substances. As a whole, the analysis shows how, when confronted with the plague, medical science continued to grope in the dark, despite wanting to free itself from traditional dogmas: the doctors' intervention on the epidemic certainly had negative effects on the course of the disease and on the trend of the fatality rate.

Tanturri, A., The plague in Southern Italy in 1815-1816, in Taavitsainen, I., Hiltunen, T., Smith, J. J., Suhr, C. (ed.), Genre in English Medical Writing, 1500-1820. Sociocultural contexts of production and use, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK) 2022: 89- 103 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/216924]

The plague in Southern Italy in 1815-1816

Tanturri, Alberto
2022

Abstract

In 1815-16, the small town of Noja (now called Noicattaro), on the Adriatic coast of Southern Italy, was affected by a plague epidemic, the last manifestation of this disease in Italy and one of the last in Continental Europe. Besides having serious demographic consequences at local level, the plague also had a considerable influence on medical and scientific debate concerning the nature of the disease and its feasible cures. In the first part, this study reviews some of the most significant doctrinal positions on the subject emerging within the southern medical profession. In the second part, it concentrates on the therapeutic strategies actually experimented in Noja, highlighting the rejection of traditional pharmacopoeia and mainstream treatments such as emetics, purgatives and bloodletting. Yet, the medicines validated and tested as an alternative to these therapeutic modalities were at best palliatives, if not at times highly toxic substances. As a whole, the analysis shows how, when confronted with the plague, medical science continued to grope in the dark, despite wanting to free itself from traditional dogmas: the doctors' intervention on the epidemic certainly had negative effects on the course of the disease and on the trend of the fatality rate.
Inglese
Genre in English Medical Writing, 1500-1820. Sociocultural contexts of production and use
9781009105347
Cambridge University Press
Tanturri, A., The plague in Southern Italy in 1815-1816, in Taavitsainen, I., Hiltunen, T., Smith, J. J., Suhr, C. (ed.), Genre in English Medical Writing, 1500-1820. Sociocultural contexts of production and use, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK) 2022: 89- 103 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/216924]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10807/216924
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