Contagion, morality, and practicality: the French pox in Frankfurt am Main and Nuremberg, 1495-1700

O'Brien, Monica Catherine (2020) Contagion, morality, and practicality: the French pox in Frankfurt am Main and Nuremberg, 1495-1700. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis investigates the factors that influenced understandings of and responses to the French pox and its victims in the free imperial cities of Frankfurt am Main and Nuremberg during the period 1495–1700. This thesis is the most extensive study of municipal responses to the pox in the Germanic lands of the Holy Roman Empire to be undertaken. These responses are contextualised within the cities’ histories and other sources on the disease, which include early modern medical texts and victims’ accounts. I argue that the councils’ responses to the disease, the orders that they issued to control its spread and their provision and delimitation of poor relief, were driven by three key factors: contagion, morality, and practicality. The existing historiography has focussed overwhelmingly on the role of theories of sexual contagion in shaping reactions to the French pox. This thesis demonstrates that non-venereal theories of contagion retained a significant influence in both medical and municipal thinking throughout the period covered by this study. Studies of the pox in Western Europe have demonstrated how the association between this disease and sexual sin influenced social and charitable responses, particularly toward women. This thesis illustrates how morality motivated and justified charitable responses to the poxed. Yet, at the same time, I demonstrate how practical considerations, such as limited resources and funding, influenced the distribution of poor relief to the sick and the deployment of moralising theories. Through investigating municipal reactions to the French pox, this thesis contributes new insights into how this disease was understood and how responses to it were formulated.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Syphilis, Early Modern, social history, Germany, social history of medicine.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD Germany
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Cohn, Prof. S.K.
Date of Award: 2020
Embargo Date: 31 December 2023
Depositing User: Dr Monica O'Brien
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-80270
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2020 09:34
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2022 09:32
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.80270

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