Plague, pox and the physician in Aberdeen, 1495–1516

Plague, pox and the physician in Aberdeen, 1495–1516

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Plague, pox and the physician in Aberdeen, 1495–1516

By Karen Jillings

Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Vol.40 (2010)

Abstract: This article discusses responses to disease in Aberdeen during a formative period in the provision of healthcare within the city. The foundation of King’s College was followed, in 1497, by the establishment of the first royally endowed university Chair of Medicine in the British Isles, and its first incumbent, James Cumming, was employed by the local government as the first city doctor in 1503. His appointment had been preceded in 1497 by another legislative innovation in Aberdeen, when its council became the first civic body in the British Isles to implement regulations against the threat of the Great Pox (usually considered to be syphilis). It had subsequently to pass measures to prevent the spread of plague to the city, and these were typical of those already imposed elsewhere in Scotland and on the continent. Their apparent success in staving off plague lasted until 1514, when the city was struck by a severe outbreak which lasted two years.

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