Plague Doctors – 13 Suprising things!

13 Surprising things about Plague Doctors in the Middle Ages

Plague Doctors were Doctors who Specialized in one area, they only treated the Bubonic Plague and could be called into any medieval town or city at a moments notice to deal with victims of the plague!

In times of a serious out-break or epidemic they were in great demand.

Plague doctors worked on an as required basis and were not employed as full time doctors within medieval towns and cities.

Here are 13 Surprising things about Plague Doctors in the Middle Ages


  • Plague Doctors had no Formal training, literally anyone could set themselves up as a Plague Doctor, even fruit sellers became plague doctors.
  • Plague Doctors didn’t touch their patients and used a cane for any examinations.
  • Plague Doctors mainly used Blood-Letting as their preferred treatment for the Black Plague.
  • The Treatments they used probably had no effect, modern science shows us that Blood-Letting is harmful.
  • Plague doctors were really just record keepers of the plague as their treatments did not work.
Plague Doctor Methods

Plague Doctor Methods Blood Letting Sucking leech

Plague Doctors Costumes, Masks

  • The Design of the Plague Doctors Clothes can be attributed to Charles de Lorme (chief physician to Louis XIII – French King).
  • Beak Shaped Masks were stuffed with a strange concoction of herbs, straw, and spices.
  • Many of the Ingredients in a Plague Doctors Mask was there to disguise the Putrid smells in towns and Cities.
  • Plague Doctors believed that their Masks helped protect them from catching the Bubonic Plague.
  • Plague Doctors wore long black coats that had a wax like quality that they believed protected them from the plague.
Black Death Medieval Doctor

A medieval doctor would wear a herb mask to protect against the Black death

Towns, Cities, Ransom and Autopsies

  • Towns and Cities hired Plague Doctors and because of this they treated everybody the poor, rich, nobility!
  • Plague Doctors during times of epidemics were in high demand and as such they were sometimes kidnapped and held for ransom.
  • Some plague doctors in Europe were allowed to carry out autopsies, which was somewhat of a privilege!

Medieval Doctors dissect a human body

Plague Doctor Mask