EPIDEMIOLOGY OF THE GREAT PLAGUE OF MILAN

Raguaglio dell’origine et giornali successi della gran peste contagiosa, venefica, et malefica seguita nella Città di Milano, et suo Ducato dall’anno 1629 sino all’anno 1632.

Milan, per Filippo Ghisolfi ad istanza di Gio. Battista Bidelli, 1648.

4to, pp. [viii], 151, [1]; inconsequential wormtrack in the gutter of pp. 61-75, light waterstain to the lower corner of the last few leaves, but a very good copy, clean and crisp, bound in contemporary carta rustica, manuscript title along lower edges; early eighteenth-century ownership inscription to title page.

£1300

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Raguaglio dell’origine et giornali successi della gran peste contagiosa, venefica, et malefica seguita nella Città di Milano, et suo Ducato dall’anno 1629 sino all’anno 1632.

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First edition of the most comprehensive firsthand account of the bubonic plague epidemic that ravaged particularly Northern and Central Italy from 1629 until 1632, also called the Great Plague of Milan from the city that suffered the highest number of fatalities (over 60,000 out of a total population of approximately 130,000).

At the time of the epidemic, the physician Alessandro Tadino (1558 – 1661) was Protomedico of the State of Milan, the official in charge of public health. In the first part of his treatise, Tadino investigates early outbreaks and the transmission and spread of the disease in Lombardy. The second part sets the rules for the lazaret and lists the cautionary measures adopted, such as the quarantine and the hunt for the ‘untori’, people suspected to deliberatley spreading the disease through venemous ointments.

Together with Ripamonti’s De peste Mediolani, Tadino’s work was the principal source used by Alessandro Manzoni for his novel I Promessi Sposi (English: The Betrothed), where the plague epidemic is faithfully described and provides the backdrop for several chapters.

OCLC records only 4 copies in North America (McGill, HSHSL Baltimore, National Library of Medicine and Illinois).

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