Book ID: CBB456494737

Expelling the Plague: The Health Office and the Implementation of Quarantine in Dubrovnik, 1377-1533 (2015)


A vibrant city-state on the Adriatic sea, Dubrovnik, also known as Ragusa, was a hub for the international trade between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. As a result, the city suffered frequent outbreaks of plague. Through a comprehensive analysis of these epidemics in Dubrovnik, Expelling the Plague explores the increasingly sophisticated plague control regulations that were adopted by the city and implemented by its health officials. In 1377, Dubrovnik became the first city in the world to develop and implement quarantine legislation, and in 1390 it established the earliest recorded permanent Health Office. The city’s preoccupation with plague control and the powers granted to its Health Office led to a rich archival record chronicling the city’s experience of plague, its attempts to safeguard public health, and the social effects of its practices of quarantine, prosecution, and punishment. These sources form the foundation of the authors' analysis, in particular the manuscript Libro deli Signori Chazamorbi, 1500-30, a rare health record of the 1526-27 calamitous plague epidemic. Teeming with real people across the spectrum, including gravediggers, laundresses, and plague survivors, it contains the testimonies collected during trial proceedings conducted by health officials against violators of public health regulations. Outlining the contributions of Dubrovnik in conceiving and establishing early public health measures in Europe, Expelling the Plague reveals how health concerns of the past greatly resemble contemporary anxieties about battling epidemics such as SARS, avian flu, and the Ebola virus.

Reviewed By

Essay Review Nükhet Varlık (2017) Beyond Eurocentric Histories of Plague. Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period (pp. 361-373). unapi

Review Samuel K. Cohn Jr (2016) Review of "Expelling the Plague: The Health Office and the Implementation of Quarantine in Dubrovnik, 1377-1533". Bulletin of the History of Medicine (pp. 323-325). unapi

Review Lori Jones (2016) Review of "Expelling the Plague: The Health Office and the Implementation of Quarantine in Dubrovnik, 1377-1533". Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (pp. 93-95). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Varlik, Nükhet
Nutton, Vivian
Mormando, Franco
Worcester, Thomas W.
Long, Pamela O.
Modestin, Georg
Journal of World History
Sudhoffs Archiv: Zeitschrift fuer Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Public Understanding of Science
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Journal of Medical Biography
The Wellcome Trust Center for the History of Medicine at University College London
Truman State University Press
Society for the History of Technology and the American Historical Association
SISMEL edizioni del Galluzzo
Ashgate Publishing
Disease and diseases
Public health
Medicine and society
Poliziano, Angelo Ambrogini
Fernel, Jean François
Clavius, Christopher
Fibonacci, Leonardo
Time Periods
16th century
14th century
15th century
Early modern
Ottoman Empire
Venice (Italy)

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