Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Great Plague of Marseille, 1720

From Geri Walton at Madame Gilflurt's salon:
For a time nothing stopped the plague: no amount of city intervention—walls, troops, or burials—nor regal or priestly intervention slowed it, and it terrified Europe. As the Marseille plague raged on, it touched everyone living in Marseille and beyond. One eighteenth century newspaper reported in October 1720 (the height of the plague) that "Marseilles is entirely ruin'd, above 80000 Persons have died there, and abundance die daily still, so mortal and so stubborn a Plague was never seen." However, the newspaper appears to have exaggerated the death toll. Although the plague devastated the city, today's estimates are that about 50,000 Marseille inhabitants died, which was more than 50% of it 90,000 inhabitants. Moreover, another 50,000 people died as the plague moved northward through France.

When at last Marseille was declared free of contagion (which took about two years), one person wrote, "We owe our deliverance, the cessation of this terrible scourge, to the mercy of the Lord, who was pleased to relent in his anger at the prayers of our the zeal of the magistrates and citizens who assisted his efforts...and, above all, to the liberality of the illustrious prince who governs us...Happy will it be the remembrance of our past misfortunes serve us as a warning for the future, and inspire us with wisdom to use all human means to guard against the renewal of a catastrophe so deplorable...and to entertain a just fear of exciting once more the anger of the Lord against us, and drawing down on our heads a judgment yet more dreadful." (Read more.)

No comments: