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  • Author or Editor: Ákos Tussay x
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Abstract

Plague was a frequent visitor to early modern England, ravishing the whole country six times between 1563 and 1666. The plague problem was, however, definitely not just an English peculiarity. Plague, due to its recurrent and devastating outbreaks, was one of the central themes of late sixteenth-century medical scholarship and social policymaking. Plague was regulated mainly at the local levels, but most of the continental regulations and contemporary guidance seems to endorse two common features. They placed considerable emphasis on contagion and drew certain correlations between contacting plague and poverty on the one hand and meagre living conditions on the other hand. In some desperate attempts, the Elizabethan and Jacobean governments, set out to contain the spread of the disease, missing some marked features of these novel continental practices, issued various ill-suited regulations which dominated English plague control from 1578 to 1666. Despite these regulations' remarkably egalitarian overtone and seemingly charitable resolutions, this paper argues that the Elizabethan and Jacobean policies of plague control were destined to failure chiefly because of their elitist and inconsiderate measures, reducing them effectively to a harsh policy of confinement of the infected poor masses, taking almost no account of their health or well-being.

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