Milan: Filippo Ghisolfi ad instanza di Giovan Battista Bidelli, 1648.
Quarto: 21.2 x 16.4 cm. , 151 p. Collation: a4, A-T4
Bound in modern cartoncino. A fine copy with good margins of this rare book. Minor blemishes as follows: Small, light stain at upper corner of opening leaves, dampstain in margin of final three leaves (and an inconspicuous, short wormtrail in the blank margin of those same few leaves), occ. light blemishes. Printer’s device on title, woodcut head-pieces and initials. Rare. 4 copies located in North America: Illinois, NLM, Univ. MD, McGill.
First edition of this work written after the plague that struck Milan and its vicinity from 1629 to 1632, written by Alessandro Tadino, a prominent Milanese physician and member of the Tribunale della Sanità. Tadino was one of the first physicians sent to investigate the origins of the first suspected case of the plague (in the countryside outside Milan) and was one of the chief medical officers in charge of coordinating a strategy for fighting the pandemic when it struck the city. He proposed and helped implement public health measures, although his efforts were often stymied (with disastrous results for the population) by those who either denied the plague’s presence or discounted its transmissibility, including a number of physicians. For the three years that the plague raged, Tadino worked on the front lines, providing care for the sick, at great personal risk. The physician was a figure of such central importance that he was featured in some of the literature that was written in the plague’s aftermath.
This official report charts the course of the pandemic from 1629 to 1632 and includes valuable, detailed information on the public health response, the pathology of the disease, treatments employed, and the social upheaval, including threats against Tadino, who was accused of looking to enrich himself by “inventing” the plague as a hoax, and almost stoned to death.
Most contemporaries agreed that the plague was introduced to Milan in November 1629 by a soldier, Pietro Paolo Locato, who had become infected when he purchased clothing from Imperial soldiers encamped north of the Duchy. Although his possessions were burned after his death in the city, those in the household in which he had stayed all contracted the disease. The city, however, was slow to respond, resulting in a broader outbreak.
“In October 1629 Alessandro Tadino and Giovanni Visconti were sent into those regions to investigate the cases and, after visiting many different villages, they confirmed that the plague was spreading in the valleys outside of Milan. Tadino wrote an extensive "geography of the plague" with precise descriptions of the living conditions of the areas he had visited. Tadino was able to formulate his diagnosis thanks to extensive fieldwork, which included close observation of the disease's symptoms and of the contamination patterns. His observations were sufficient to convince the Tribunale della Sanità of the need to immediately implement restrictive measures in order to prevent the spreading of the plague into the city.”(Brivio, La Peste degli Untori: the complex cosmology of Milan during the 1630 plague)
Despite these measures, the plague spread, with grim results. Tadino gives a final figure of 165,000 dead.
“The Milanese plague of 1630-1633 followed a course different from the outbreak in Florence that occurred about the same time. In Milan, there were riots, the killing of reputed plague spreaders, and moments of collective panic and revolt. Even the mortality rate was higher, when compared to the 10,000 deaths during the peak periods of the Florentine pandemic. Naturally, in Milan all the apparatus that invariably accompanies pandemics was put in place: the public health commission, a hierarchy of health functionaries, the lazarettos, the mass graves, the barred doors, the quarantines.”(Citriniti, Alessandro Manzoni and the Milanese Plague of 1630-1633).