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The Great Pox was one of the major epidemics to impact early modern Europe, infecting all levels of society and causing long drawn-out suffering and death. This paper will explore how this disease was represented and experienced through written and visual evidence, from the popular printed pamphlets of satirical poems and broadsheets to medical illustration and imagery of Job, the patron saint of Pox. It will be argued that by analysing these sources through the prism of contemporary medical theory we can understand more clearly how this disease was received and understood more broadly in early modern Italy.

John Henderson is Emeritus Professor of Italian Renaissance History at Birkbeck, University of London, and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is Director of the research project ‘Public Health and Private Health in Pre-Modern Italy’, at the Medici Archive Project in Florence. He is Visiting Fellow in History at St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford, during Michaelmas Term, 2023-24.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking is required.