Plague letter

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Plague letter of the city of Avignon from 1637

A plague letter was a health pass that was introduced in Venice in 1374 due to the plague pandemic of the 14th century . It served as the basis for deciding whether a traveler and their goods had to enter the 30-day isolation, the Trentana, or whether they could enter the city unhindered. This 30-day period was increased to 40 days in 1377 by the Dalmatian city ​​republic of Ragusa and in 1383 by Marseille , from which the term quarantine arose ("quaranta giorni" = 40 days).

The plague letter was not issued by the port authority of the port of origin, but by an agent residing there on behalf of Venice. The pass was passed from ship to ship with iron tongs while still outside the port and decontaminated by smoking over sulfur. He could be "pure"; H. identify its owner as a traveler from a non-plague-contaminated area, or “unclean” if the owner came from a port of origin that is at risk of disease or is contaminated.

The letter of plague is regarded as the forerunner of the later passport .

See also


  • Stefan Winkle: Cultural history of epidemics. Komet, Düsseldorf / Zurich 1997, ISBN 3-933366-54-2 .