A Podcast Exploring the Wit and Weirdness of Medieval Texts

MDT Ep. 81: Concerning More Descriptions of the Plague

Figure of a bubo being treated from the Bristol City Library MS of Guy de Chauliac's Chirugia Magna.

As life under quarantine begins to enter a new phase, we continue our survey of plague texts, with a grab-bag of selections ranging from Petrarch baring his soul to a surgeon listing failed remedies to some Paris professors issuing pandemic guidelines to keep the country safe, which include by no means consuming olive oil.

Today’s Texts

  • Capgrave, John. The Chronicle of England. Edited by Francis Charles Hingeston, Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1858. Google Books.
  • Dobson, Susanna, translator. The Life of Petrarch. Collected from Memoires pour la vie de Petrarch by Jacques-Francois-Paul-Aldonce De Sade, vol. 2, 7th ed., W. Wilson, 1807. Google Books.
  • Guy de Chauliac, Grand Chirurgie. “Description of the Plague.” Tr.  by Anna M. Campbell. Reprinted from Campbell, The Black Death and Men of Learning, pp. 2-3, 1931.
  • Guy de Chauliac, Grand Chirurgie. “Description of the Plague.” Tr.  by William A. Guy. Public Health: A Popular Introduction to Sanitary Science, Henry Renshaw, 1870, pp. 48-50. Google Books.
  • Petrarch, “Letter to Gherard, May 1349.” Translated by Francis Aidan Gasquet in The Black Death of 1348 and 1349, 2nd ed., George Bell and Sons, 1908, pp. 33-34. Google Books.
  • “Statement of the Faculty of the College of Physicians of Paris.” In The Epidemics of the Middle Ages, by J.F.C. Hecker, translated by B.G. Babington, 3rd ed., Trübner & Co., 1859, pp. 47-49. Google Books.


  • Hecker, J.F.C. The Epidemics of the Middle Ages. Translated by B.G. Babington, 3rd ed., Trübner & Co., 1859. Google Books.
  • “May You Live in Interesting Times.” Quote Investigator, 18 Dec. 2015, quoteinvestigator.com/2015/12/18/live/. Accessed 21 May 2020.

Image: Figure of a bubo being treated from the Bristol City Library MS of Guy de Chauliac’s Chirugia Magna. In Singer, Charles. “The Figures of the Bristol Guy de Chauliac MS. (circa 1430).” Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 10, pp. 71–90, doi.org/10.1177/003591571701001504.

1 Comment

  1. Lamp

    Hello, you sounded a bit bummed out about how interesting the topic was at various points in the episode so I just thought I’d reassure you that everything you say is fascinating even the little side facts. Looking foward to more!

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