Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Extracts: Precautions against leprosy

“Now mark this well, for these are the rules you must henceforth live by. You are forbidden to enter a church, a tavern, or a bakery or to go into any place where Christian souls meet. You are forbidden to wash in a stream or drink except of that water which has been placed in your cup. You must not touch food, or garments, or well ropes, or anything that Christian souls might touch. You must never go barefoot. When you buy food you must not hand your coin to the merchant, but place it instead in a bowl of vinegar. You must not eat or drink except in the company of others like yourself. You are forbidden to have intercourse with any woman. You are forbidden to come near a child. If you meet any person on the road you must step off it and warn them not to approach you. You must not pass down any narrow street or lane lest you brush against a Christian soul. You shall sound the leper’s clapper to warn godly souls of your approach. You must wear at all times the appointed garb so that all men may see at once what you are. When you die you shall be buried outside the parish bounds and may God give you grace to bear your suffering in true humility.”
The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland


snafu said...

Presumably taken from a time when leprosy was not understood and illness was seen as a punishment from God, but it all makes good sense as a means of the containment of contagious diseases before medicine was advanced enough to prevent the spread of infection.

MorningAJ said...

I'm still trying to work out exactly when the book thinks it's set. But yes, you're pretty much on the button there.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Anne .. the extract certainly had a distinctly early medieval feel about it .. how very sad - but I'm sure happened to many, over and above those with leprosy - the outcasts of the world ... mind you not much has changed with the homeless etc ..

Not a good thought to end on - but the book looks interesting! Cheers Hilary

A Heron's View said...

I avoid as much contact with christians too, for a different reason.