Forty Days And Forty Nights – Part Two

Fascinating, and very useful research information for a writer.



Last time we looked at the origins of quarantine and the development of lazarets – quarantine stations for maritime travellers, normally on isolated islands, where ships could be permanently at anchor for the period of the quarantine. The next major development in the rudimentary attempts to protect public health was the introduction of bills of health.

The vibrant trading centre that was Venice was the first place to develop an effective system of maritime cordon. Once news of an outbreak of plague in the eastern Mediterranean reached Venice, boats suspected of carrying plague or of having originated from or called in at a plague spot were signalled by a flag which would be spotted by lookouts perched up on the tower of San Marco.

The captain would then be transferred from the ship into a life boat and rowed ashore to the health magistrate’s office. The captain would be kept…

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