The plague doctor was somebody whose job was to venture among the plague victims and keep a tally of the sick and dead. He burned herbs in the end of his mask to discourage plague germs. I’m kind of surprised no one wore one of these get-ups in the past year.*

The Black Death was a proper pandemic. Coffin-makers couldn’t keep up with the business. Bodies needed to be buried in mass graves. Entire towns were left empty. A huge chunk of the Holy Roman Empire’s population just wasn’t there anymore. Church attendance plummeted. Food was in short supply because there weren’t enough serfs left to plant and harvest crops. The devastation was so comprehensive that it took a couple centuries to recover.

* GAAAAH! Update! I did this sketch as a kind of tribute to my pal Chuck Dillon who wrote and illustrated Which Art Student Are You? that features art student stereotypes with all their attributes called out—and then I forgot to mention Chuck when I posted! I tell you, I’m losing my marbles.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.


5 responses to “Doom

  1. Nicely done, John! Those doctor duds were something else; can you imagine what the smell of rotting suet on leather must’ve been like for a plague sufferer? Ew-w-w! Still what a frighteningly powerful vision. Not surprising that it became the costume for the Il Dottore character in the Commedia dell’ Arte performances.


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